4 things I have learned from teaching kids yoga

I awoke to a crash coming from my son’s bedroom at two in the morning. Confused, I rushed to his room to find all three of my children laughing so hard they were crying. They had built an amusement park ride from the top bunk, all the way across the room to a cot that did a little bump into the closet. Their faces were covered in marker, glitter was in their hair and carpet, and I still wonder how they got the closet rod and built-in shelves to do what they did.

I did not see the humor they so obviously saw, and in my half-asleep haze yelled at them to get to bed and lectured them on how angry I was. Even though they knew they were in trouble, they could not stop laughing. Finally my daughter took my hand and said, "It’s okay, mommy. We can help you find your fun again."

A few months later, a friend of mine asked me to return to teaching kids’ yoga. I felt the familiar flutter of excitement. I love teaching kids. They are so lively and fun. Deep down inside, though, I was terrified. I was afraid I really had lost my fun. Life had become heavy with a schedule that left little time for playing. I couldn’t remember the last time I had fun! After the first class, I realized that the kids have more to teach me than I have to teach them.

Four things kids and #yoga can teach us

1. Everyone needs to play

A kids’ yoga class is not meant to be quiet. The kids thrive on making personal connections. They talk. They laugh. They play games. It’s a reminder that life should be lived out loud! We need to step away from work to play a little bit and get to know people around us.

I was sitting at the front of the room trying to get the next activity ready for the class as they built a fort with yoga props. Joseph came and took my hand and pulled me toward the fort to hang out with them. I protested, saying that I needed to get some work done so that we could do the next activity. He took my face in his hands, looked me in the eyes, and said,

If you want to feel so, so happy, you gotta play! This is how we get to know each other!

2. Everyone needs quiet time

Kids thrive when given the opportunity to rest. It gives them a quiet moment to reflect on the experiences they have had throughout the day and integrate things they have learned. Many people today have very full schedules and often don’t have the time to slow down.

Jenny came to class one day and immediately laid under a blanket on her mat. I tried everything to get her to participate. She told me she was just tired in her bones, so I let her lie there for the entire class. I later learned Jenny’s Grandpa was dying and the family had been so busy taking care of him and spending time with him. They were all emotionally drained, and Jenny knew that rest was exactly what she needed.

3. Everyone can meditate!

Meditation helps children regulate their emotions, make better decisions, and focus on what is right in front of them.

We often tell kids to focus, but we never teach them how!

I am so happy to have found Purna Yoga’s Heartfull Meditation ^TM^ Techniques! They are simple enough that I have been practicing them with my own kids since they were two years old. They are learning to use meditation to keep their mind sharp and their heart open.

My son is diagnosed with ADHD, and we have chosen not to put him on medication. As a homeschooling family, we are able to incorporate meditation into our school routine. One day, he was having such a difficult time concentrating and getting his work done. After getting in trouble over and over he looked at me and calmly reminded me that we had skipped centering that morning since we had a late start. He needed time to settle his mind so that he could focus on the work we were doing. Once we centered, he was able to focus with no problem! Keeping things simple can help our children in numerous ways.

4. Everyone deserves kindness

Kids’ yoga teaches children to be kind to others as well as to themselves.

A nine-year-old in my class says that you have to treat yourself like your best friend and treat your worst enemy like your best friend.

The world’s problems are so big it can be overwhelming. They learn that to even help one person is helping the world.

Another 9-year-old in my class told me that he used to hate his sister because she took his toys. He decided that he needed to be kind to her the most since she was his mortal enemy. He said he thinks she might be his best friend now. He is planning on picking another mortal enemy to be kind to because if we could all be a little less mad at each other the world would be better.

I am so grateful to the kiddos in my class for reminding me what is truly important in life. They have reminded me to be a little kinder, slow down, and have a lot more fun! So your homework this week is to do at least one thing that makes you want to "woop" out loud. Stop by the comment section and let me know how it felt!

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