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Kids Yoga versus "Real" Yoga
By Paula McDermid
Le Tot Spot

Kids Yoga versus "Real" Yoga
I have spent the last four years of my life dedicated to creative expression through movement and the arts with preschool and kinder aged children.
PHOTO CREDIT - Paula McDermid

Cornwall - April 26, 2015 - I have spent the last four years of my life dedicated to creative expression through movement and the arts with preschool and kinder aged children. After a couple years of running my own studio and struggling to find a yoga teacher for my little students; I found myself sitting in a room of eager, anxious, soon to be yoga teachers preparing for our intensive training. Little did I know it would change my life forever. I was aware that I didn’t need to be a full 200 hour yoga teacher to teach kids, in fact there are weekend courses I could have taken but being a studio owner, being the one responsible, I wanted to be in the best possible position to teach, I believe it was divine intervention.

Everything that I knew about kids’ yoga was NOTHING like the “real yoga” that I was suddenly being schooled on. Kids’ yoga is simply creative movement, it is what I had been doing all these years with my music and movement classes only with more emphasis on animal poses and breathing exercises. Essentially kids’ yoga is all about getting kids to move and have fun and if you’re lucky with the right group you can teach some clam down methods at the end of a class. As you may imagine, full yoga teacher training was a wildly different experience for me, I am a natural gigglier … that wasn’t so much the practice among the serious yogis around me (although I did find a couple special giggly friends along the way).

Upon my return as a ‘yoga teacher’, all of a sudden I had to explain to my students families that I wasn’t about to force mediation on to their three year olds. I had to tell, reassure, and convince them that the only thing I am changing is throwing in more animal poses and emphasis on breathing exercises. When we stand on one foot, I call it a tree or an airplane, when we make silly noises I make a point to associate it with an exhale or an inhale. That’s it, that’s all. I promise I am not forcing your three year old to sit still for 45 minutes and think about their chakras, I might break out the bell game, where we quietly ring bells and pass them to each other otherwise known as a bell meditation or maybe a quiet game of moving the feather up and down on their belly but most of the time it is just fun and games.

It is everything like adult yoga in the sense that most of the poses, you can find in an adult class. The warrior poses may be called warrior with older kids, but for younger ones, it’s a surfer. Does it matter what it is called though, or if they make dog sounds or of we use all of those poses in part of an imaginary yoga adventure? It matters that they are moving their body and recognizing that is feels good when they stretch and move about and that it is fun to be actively engaged in movement. As they get to be pre-teen and teens, they have a solid foundation of poses, breathing, body awareness and they are good to themselves and the people and world around them.

If by chance you’re the opposite kind of parent that wants me to teach your child how to meditate, that won’t happen the way you think it will either. In the first class, even the most attentive eight year old isn’t about to meditate -- they will have quiet moments; I may bring them on an imaginary journey with the lights dimmed and calm music. Sometimes all the kids break out in OMMMMMmmm, but the peace and calm in the kids yoga class in seriously limited, that’s not to say we aren’t building the tools it is to say that it takes framework and experience to build a house and even then it may be shaky.

Leaving my teacher training I didn’t actually think I would be able to teach adult classes, after all when your down dog pose is generally associated with a bark, and your cat pose a meow it can be hard to teach serious adult yogis. I struggled with it at first, being thrown in as a replacement as a favour to a friend, and then after a few weeks, I came to realize I am who I am. I teach adults and kids just a little lighter, with a little more fun and easier than most other adult teachers I know. I am going to tell you to smile, to be happy, to spread love and be love. I am going to use a kid pose name sometimes by accident or not … I am going to adjust you and tell you that if it doesn’t feel good for your body whether it is a counter pose or not, don’t do it exactly like I would in a kid’s yoga class.

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