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Want to cultivate better communication, focus, and coping skills in students of all ages? We turned to Rina Jakubowicz from SuperYogis’ Schoolhouse for advice on getting kids interested in yoga at home or in the classroom. If you’d like to learn how to empower children through yoga, sign up for Rina’s kids yoga teacher training program at YJ LIVE New York, April 21-24.
1. Be the example.
This one’s easy: Do yoga around them, and they will want to imitate you, says Jakubowicz. Take the opportunity to have fun teaching them poses; the ones with descriptive names, like Tree Pose or Downward-Facing Dog, are always a big hit.
Helpful hint: Don’t ever force a kid to do yoga. This will have the opposite of the intended effect.
2. Make asking (and answering) their own questions an adventure for you both.
A sense of curiosity is a cornerstone of a yoga practice. We come to our mats open to however our mind, body or environment presents itself. And that’s difficult for adults: Expectation and a sense of “I already know this” are often obstacles.
But kids easily possess this innate investigative nature, and you can help them develop it to continue to learn and evolve.
“I try to get kids to think for themselves. If they ask me a question, I’ll ask them what they think the answer is. When one person says one answer, and the others say something else, I’ll address it: ‘Do we see there is more than one answer to that question, and is that okay?'” says Jakubowicz.
The a-ha! ability to process more than one answer and accept that there is more than one way to do or consider things puts them in a position of empowerment, helps open their minds, and may also foster more harmonious relationships with classmates and siblings.
3. Communicate without attaching your own agenda.
The first step, says Jakubowicz, is to reflect on how you interact with kids.
“Be aware that you have an agenda to begin with. Most of the time parents impose their beliefs on kids. (‘Don’t you want to run the family business one day? Don’t you want to be a doctor?’),” says Jakubowicz. “When you impose your thoughts on how kids should live and what they should aspire to, it only creates pressure, because they have their own agenda.”
And while finding themselves is certainly a lifelong process, helpfully navigated by Step 1 (having fun in tree pose) and Step 2 (maintaining curiosity), kids will have no problem telling you who they really are if you offer them space and an authentic connection.
More on kids and yoga:
3 Ways to Use Yoga in the Classroom
Watch: Kids Hilariously Try Yoga for the First Time