Teaching yoga to children is much different than teaching adult Kundalini Yoga classes. Here are some tips and guidelines for teaching engaging and fun classes for kids:
- Yoga for children is age-specific. Very young children can start doing yoga in classes designed for Moms and tots. Even 2 and 3-year olds can be taught yoga. Classes can be designed for pre-school (ages 4-6), primary (ages 6-8), junior (ages 9·11), and intermediate (ages 12-14).
- All have varying developmental issues such as: attention span; ability to be quiet; need for snacks (watch for food allergies); and tendency to go to the bathroom. So extra class assistance may be required.
- Invoke the child's imagination through stories, songs, poems, activities, and games. Create an imaginary environment. They can pretend they are animals or imaginary creatures in some exercises.
- Don't be concerned about following a fixed routine (a kriya, or set).
- The length of class time spent in actual yoga poses varies (15- 30 minutes). The length of warm-ups (3 - 5 breaths per pose or exercise), yogic exercises (20 - 90 seconds each), and the rest time in between exercises should be dependent on the children’s attention span.
- Sometimes special games are helpful such as doing yoga in pairs, or having an animal puppet wake them up after relaxation.
- Children can begin a light Breath of Fire at age 5.
- Reduce the time in pranayam and be creative to keep the child's interest.
- Creativity and visualization help during relaxation (1 – 5 minutes).
- Meditation time is also short, especially at first (1 - 5 minutes).
- Be firm when you need to be and in disciplining, focus on the behavior and not the child.
Yoga for children can take place in scouts or guides, preschools, public or private elementary schools, during church Sunday school, community centers, in the home, or just about any place that children gather.
Resources: Shakta Khalsa, Fly Like a Butterfly. Baba Hari Dass, A Child's Garden Yoga.