As many people know, yoga has a ton of benefits for the mind, body and spirit and this past week I got an email from my principal about a workshop for adults who work with kids and would like to implement some yoga techniques into their teaching repertoire. I jumped right on it and signed up.
The class was led by a yoga instructor named Milagros Anton who specializes in Hatha yoga, prenatal yoga, yoga therapy, yoga for kids, pranayama and meditation and workshops. It was really fun and the main things I got out of the class were how to help kids let out their energy while subtly tying in yoga breathing and positions and concentration. We ran around and learned the different animal poses. We played a concentration game with cones and rings and we did an active meditation that required picking up our feet and putting them down in front of us very slowly in a line.
Stories help the kids and they can get as creative as they want to with animal noises. The instructor can integrate a fable or a story with a moral at the end utilizing animals to which the kids will do different poses. Kids are never adjusted in their animal positions but the instructor can make sure the kids are doing the correct pose for the cat and not a camel pose instead. It is also great to implement stories that might help the kids feel better if they are feeling insecure or scared.
I really liked the implementation of breathing. There is a breath that sounds like a snake, one that sounds like a bear, a lion, and bees. Ujagi (sorry if I spelled that wrong) breathing is the technique of contracting your throat to make noise kind of like a wave. It warms up your breath and helps you concentrate on poses when you are doing your yoga practice. Milagros explained that we should tell the kids that they have to fill up the balloon in their stomachs and then make the sound of it deflating with our mouths closed. I had never heard it explained that way before.
Finally, we learned about mandalas and how they can be used to help kids relax and concentrate. We created our own mandala while Milagros read to us about what the different colors mean. It is interesting how even though we had different sections and could color whatever we wanted, in the end it all coincided and looked very fluid. It had a nature theme to it with different flying animals and bugs. It was super cool and I found myself in a sort of meditative state afterward which is exactly what they are supposed to do. I don’t think I will be implementing this in my job necessarily but it is great to know and I most definitely will have mandalas to print so my own kids will be able to enjoy their benefits.
I remember when I was in middle school and high school I used to draw flowers with four petals and then work my way outward with more petals in between the four. It was a go to doodle of mine and while I didn’t work from the outside in, it definitely was a mandala of sorts.
I am looking forward to sharing some of what I learned with my colleagues at work. I think that using stories and movement as well as breathing could really help the girls a lot. It will give them a space to be creative as well as learn to relax and concentrate a bit. It can be really challenging working with a group of 30 five and six-year-old girls with tons of energy.
I also look forward to utilizing yoga techniques with my own children. There are so many benefits to including it in the lives of young ones. It brings about self-awareness and tranquility in an ever faster paced world. I think everyone could benefit from yoga in some way.
Have you had any experiences with yoga and children? Tell me about it!
Note: Milagros Anton was a fantastic facilitator and I would love to try a regular class of hers sometime. She also does pre-natal yoga. For anyone interested in her services she can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org and her number is 989-062-694.