By Dorothy Fizzell, SOYA, IYTA, ERYT500, mom and grandma.
If you are a yoga teacher, and you have children, do you do yoga with them? Or is it something you do separate from raising your children? Or, are you a parent/grandparent of young children, who also participates in yoga classes? Do you share the knowledge with them?
There is a quote from Eyre in 1984 that defines play as “What joy is in the body! The joy of work, and of hard, purposeful effort, the joy of singing, the joy of sport and activity, the joy of tenderness and physical touch, the joy of controlling physical things!” This is also a perfect definition of yoga asana!!
Children love to move! Yoga is a natural extension of what children already do, and sharing yoga, as with other aspects of bringing up children to be positive, confident, healthy, contributing members of society, can be exciting.
As a yoga teacher, with young children, I did not spend much focused time sharing my passion with them. There were, however, many spontaneous teachable moments, while I was doing my personal practice, or preparing for teaching, that my two sons did become aware of what yoga is. I used photos of my ten year old son, Karl, in my specialty project on “Yoga for Preschool children”. It was enjoyable to answer their questions, to pay attention as they said “Watch me!” and to demonstrate breath and body movement, sitting still, as well as model some of the yoga philosophy such as yamas and niyamas.
Karl, doing Trikonasana at age 10.
Yoga can be extremely important in a child’s life. Just as with adults, life for even very young children can be very structured, busy and competitive. Yoga, in children, can reduce stress, can improve body awareness, strength and flexibility and can improve self-discipline and self-confidence. And with concerns about children not being active enough, yoga is perfect!
Play is the most important aspect of a young child’s life and is the major method of learning. When yoga is done in a fun, natural way, children will learn it. It is exciting for them to use the Sanskrit language, and they love to show and feel how their bodies move in space.
As parents, or grandparents, we can involve children in our yoga practice, challenging them, having them use their imagination, with all the same yoga asanas, the same breath techniques, the same meditation techniques. We do need to be mindful of the “dos and don’ts”, of not having to be precisely aligned, and we need to modify accounting for different body proportions.
Doing yoga with children also teaches us, as we open our minds to children’s perspectives, as we develop patient calm when they want to repeat and repeat again, as we move with more ease and relaxation, having some laughing moments in a yoga asana.
Karl, doing Sirsasana prep/ Svanasana with two year Odin.