Here are my 5 tips you can use for this silly season.
Help! Christmas is literally around the corner and as we know, the excitement goes straight to their heads.
The best teachers are not always the ones you think! Let me explain…
The first time I taught a kids yoga class was traumatic. It was at during after-school care on a Friday afternoon. The children were tired and restless, and listening to what I was saying was not high on their list of priorities.
It felt extremely chaotic and at the end of class, they all ran away screaming. In the moment I was grateful for the ‘zen’ of my adult classes! Still, the after-school care teacher turned to me with a big, victorious smile and declared “they loved it!!”. Sorry, did I hear you correctly?, Were we watching the same session? I wish someone would have taken a picture of my face because I am sure my jaw dropped to the floor.
I got home exhausted, I felt like my blood had been sucked out of my veins. And I swore then, to never do it again. Never. But as we often say ‘never say never’.
The next day I realised that as crazy as it all was, they had liked it, so I must have done something right. The more I thought about the experience, the more I thought about having given them the freedom to explore, to laugh, and be creative with the exercises. (I later learned requests are to be offered as suggestions in a kids yoga class).
The after-school care contacted me to do more classes for them, and I accepted, confident in the fact that I would be learning from the experience. And I did, but not what I thought I would.
First off, kids are amazing.
They are playful and fearless!! Why are adults so afraid to try a handstand without the wall to lean on? As adults, our ‘adultness’ tends to stop us from doing things; our beliefs, fear of falling, and the list goes on. So we prefer not trying new things, conforming to the image and meaning society has crafted for us and we stay in our comfort zone secretly wishing we’d have the guts to at least try. We don’t realise we are narrowing our landscapes and possibilities to keep learning and expanding.
When I tried acro yoga, my father told me that it wasn’t for my age and I was going to hurt myself, a belief deeply ingrained in our society. Adults are supposed to be serious and not have fun, at least not this way.
Children, however, are not worried about falling or trying something new. The concept of comfort zone doesn’t exist yet for a lot of them. Falling results in laughter and more trials, working together to explore new avenues and encouraging each other to try again in as many ways as their wild imagination can possibly create. It is such an eye-opening experience to witness. And I began to wonder when we lose this playfulness and thirst to explore.
They live in the right here and now. So it doesn’t make much sense to teach them about mindfulness because that’s what they do, that’s what they are. Reminding them to be present is reminding the sun to shine. If they are interested in what they are doing, they are 150% focused. Kids classes will be noisy, and that means they are expressing themselves and having fun with this new tool, being yoga, they have just been offered.
As a result, I began to understand the overall philosophy of yoga better: our inner child and mindfulness are always present and it is our natural state. It becomes clouded by thoughts and worries and to-do lists, but it is there, just like the sun shines behind the clouds.
Third, their ego doesn’t rule them (yet).
Adults, get so caught up in what others are thinking of us; we’re so worried about looking ridiculous; worried we’re not good enough; worried we can’t do it…In yoga classes, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others in the class, and watch with envy those we think as more “advanced”, and get frustrated or beat ourselves up if we think we don’t fit the perfect Instagram shot of the pose (a whole other topic…).
Kids are inhabited by the “I can do this” attitude, and even if they fall over and don’t achieve the pose they were shown they believe they can do it. They perceive everything as “easy” even when it’s not, and never stop trying. To them, the pose is not the goal, its the fun they have trying to do it. And they are so right!
Fourthly, they are unbelievably creative.
I absolutely love it when I ask them to do a pose or a short sequence, and they come up with a version different from the one I suggested, a version that hadn’t even crossed my mind. And unless I stop them, their ideas erupt like lava from a volcano and they keep trying, imagining, building, and laughing it all along the way.
Lastly, they don’t hang on to emotions.
A friend of mine told me a few months back, that she thought children don’t understand sadness; they only feel it for a few minutes and then move on to something else, which struck her as immature, childish, and limited.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike adults, children let their emotions go by, they feel them and let them pass through, then move on; they let it happen naturally and don’t hang on to sadness (or any other emotion). It
was scientifically proven that an emotion only lasts ninety seconds; anything longer than that is our mind making up stories based on that emotion. Something to keep in mind next time we feel anger or sadness: how much are we adding to the emotion by reliving the event over and over?
I have learnt so much with children. I have realised just how many layers of unnecessary and even harmful beliefs we have gained over the course of our adult lives. Thoughts about ourselves, how we should be/act/look like and so on. The older we get the more layers we add.
Teaching children has taught me so much. Reflecting on the past two years of teaching kids yoga I realise sometimes the best teachers are our kids, the exact little people we teach.
So my 5 tips?
N# 1 – Be amazing
N#2 – Be present
N#3 – Put your ego to bed
N#4 – Be creative
N#5 – Don’t hang on to your emotions.
Be inspired, find joy in just being here, play more, especially on your yoga mat!!