YogaKids creator Marsha Wenig knew the importance of connection when she created the YogaKids program over twenty years ago. Marsha created 14 original Elements that YogaKids teachers weave into their classes to create fun, educational, creative lesson plans that are designed to help children thrive. Several of these Elements along with many poses, activities and techniques are designed to help children connect to each other, the world and to their own unique goodness.
Extensive research shows that having good-quality relationships can help us to live longer and happier lives with fewer mental health problems. A sense of connection helps children feel emotionally and physically safe and valued; they develop healthy social abilities and have a sense of sharing and caring for each other. The centerpiece of opening our heart is to remember that we belong to each other.
Professor Brene Brown says, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.” The YogaKids program helps teachers offer children this sense of belonging and connection. Whatever we practice gets stronger and when children practice compassion and love, that part of them grows immensely and they tap into that part of themselves that is full of light, full of love.
The Ecological Echoes Element connects children to plants, animals and the environment. This Element allows teachers to weave in fun facts while teaching poses. In Downward Facing Dog pose, children might learn that dogs have the ability to detect changes in the human body and are used to help diabetic and seizure patients. While in Tree pose, students might learn that California holds the record for the oldest living trees, with some thought to be 4,000-5,000 years old. Children get the physical benefits of these poses, but also learn to understand their connection to the world.
The Bridge of Diamonds Element teaches children that they are like a diamond: unique and brilliant in their own way. And every child can build a “bridge” from themselves to the larger world. Many YogaKids poses can be transformed into partner or group poses. For example, in Tree pose, children can hold hands and notice how getting a little help from their friend helps them find balance. Bridge of Diamonds poses and techniques give children the confidence to open their hearts and connect to others.
Connecting poses help children feel a sense of community. Many YogaKids activities offer children the chance to work together, while simultaneously celebrating their own unique qualities. In Circle of Friendship Flower (pictured above) children kneel in a circle, holding hands. They inhale and reach arms up, then exhale and fold down into Child’s Pose. In this pose, when children rise up and back bend, it symbolizes opening their hearts to life. Often when we get hurt, we fold in to protect ourselves, and in the effort, we close ourselves off to life and love. YogaKids helps us to teach children to rise up and stay open to life, open to love and open to seeing their own brilliance.
Poet Thomas Merton said, “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” YogaKids helps children find their true destiny and bask in the beauty of their own true nature.