I tell you one of the things that is very close to my heart is the space I enjoy whenever I am in a Yoga class with children. I started teaching children Yoga as a teacher volunteer in 2011 during eN-Vidyalaya class, a weekend spiritual program for children gifted by my enlightened Guru, Paramahamsa Nithyananda (fondly known as Swamiji). I was drawn by my passion to work with children, so teaching Yoga to kids was the natural progression for me after ten years of teaching Yoga to adults.
What are the differences between teaching yoga to kids versus adults?
Here are my 5 discoveries:
- Children relate with space. By their nature, children live in the space of a child – the pure space of awareness and listening. However, due to societal conditioning, sometimes their space gets disturbed. As a teacher, if you are able to guide them back to that space of possibilities and creativity, they will simply listen to you and be willing to explore their possibility in body-mind. To do that, you must be in the space of completion and living with high authenticity. I remembered in the early days in 2011-12 when Swamiji had not revealed the science of completion (poornatva), I was struggling so much with children with restlessness, wild energies and non-listening. My space was filled with irritability and impatience, no wonder I had such a hard time. It was only after having understood the space of a child and also having completed within myself, I noticed the powerful space of completion awakens my ability to relate with kids in their space and also how I am able to hold a space of possibility for them to flower in their consciousness.
- Children learn through play. Yoga with children is a play of spontaneity, creative expression in movements and a play of energy. You cannot teach yoga to kids in the same way you teach the adults. They will complain that it is too boring and they start to disengage in class. This means that you have to be in the space of a child and learn how to draw them in to your space.
- Children are naturally flexible. Adults tend to build a lot of tensions and stiffness in their body due to their unconscious lifestyle. However, most kids are naturally flexible at young age, they just need to be taught how to build strength and steadiness so that they can express higher possibility with their body intelligence. The discipline of building strength and steadiness comes with a lot of inspiration, encouragement and will persistence so that they don’t give up on themselves.
- Children live with authenticity. Unlike the adults, children always emulate the next best possibility for them in any given situation. They are very intelligent and authentic in stretching themselves to the higher peak capacity if parents do not give them their fears and greed patterns in the formative years. That is why if the teachers are able to hold a space of possibility for them and show them the way, the future of our new generation will be phenomenal.
- Children learn through visualization. Adults learns from verbalization by the instructions given by teacher whereas children learn the best through visualization. That requires a teacher who can creatively guide them into the power of visualization in the form of play, so that they experience new dimensions and depth of Yoga.
In Yoga practice, the children and I enter into the space of Yoga – the present. I transmit what I want to impart to them and show them what they can do with their body-mind and eventually leading them to the space of no-mind. Sometimes, I allow them to discover the space themselves. In the silence, the different dimensions of reality become accessible for them to explore about the wonders of life. That gives me the greatest joy in seeing the children catching the subtler aspects of life such as prana (life force), vibrations and energy flow. That’s why yoga with kids is also a play for me. Namaste 😀