The Bendy Blog

How to Be the Ultimate YogaKids Teacher

By Julie Pate

Bendy Blog category: Your Yoga Biz

Teaching children is extremely rewarding — as is teaching yoga. Combine the two and the rewards overflow. Children have a natural curiosity about life and movement and are not afraid to express joy. I taught adults yoga for over ten years before teaching kids; I soon realized that the skills I needed to teach adults left me lacking when in front of kids. If you are considering a rewarding career teaching yoga to children, YogaKids can help you to be more…

1. Present: The connections made between teacher and student in a YogaKids class are so special; you want to be present to enjoy them. If you check out and get lost in your own thoughts, you will miss so much. To see the excitement in a child’s face when they experience the creativity and fun in the YogaKids program is truly joyful. When kids realize they actually get to bark in Down Dog, or move from one mat (lilly pad) to the next in frog pose, the joy in the room can almost be touched. We direct our teachers to arrive to class at least 15 minutes early to set up, and also to take a moment to sit quietly and breathe. This will allow for a clear and calm mind, open to experience what is to come.

2. Joyful: The YogaKids program is based on fun. We bring fun to yoga or yoga to fun — I am not sure which came first. We make learning fun which is why our kids ask to come back again and again. or instance, take core work… nothing fun about core work, right? In a YogaKids class, our planks are actually lizards. So while we get a flat belly, we also get to recite rhymes like “Laura Lizard Loves Licorice!” Ir we get to stick our tongues out and imagine what color combinations our skin might be….how about pink with purple dots? If you do nothing else, make it fun!

3. Authentic: Kids know if you are faking it; they have a 6th sense. I came in to teach a class one day after a stressful day and I was clearly distracted. I noticed a lot of strange looks around my circle, and finally one student said, “Miss Julie, is yoga making you sad today?” This sweet question immediately made me realize that I was sad, and it was yoga that could help me feel better. Be truthful, authentic and kind, and your students will thrive.

4. Organized: When teaching kids, a detailed class plan is always wise. It is important to be flexible as I will talk about next, but a good organized plan is important to allow you to enjoy the class instead of being distracted with details during the class. Our program teaches you how to put together a class that energizes and calms, educates and entertains, all in a format that flows naturally.

5. Flexible: Yoga teachers need to be flexible, right? In body and in spirit! As mentioned above, having an organized class plan is essential to success. But you also must be open to making changes — even last minute ones if it serves the group. If you have planned to start your class with a story and your students come in extremely energized, it’s best to get them moving and work off some of that energy. Once the kids are tired, sitting down and listening to a story will be a welcome treat. If you have a group of toddlers close to nap time, keep things moving quickly from one activity to the next to hold their attention. If you have a group of teens at finals time, be prepared that they might need more than 5 minutes of relaxation at the end of class. It is important to ascertain what you students need in the moment — and to have the tools in your tool box to be able to shift gears quickly.

6. Grounded  In an adult class, if you decide to teach a challenging pose, most adults won’t argue with you. “No I don’t like that pose!” They might think that, but they will try the pose and usually be glad they did. Kids will tell you exactly what they think of each book, game, activity, and pose — and try to persuade you to switch directions on a whim. It is very important not to get caught up in each child’s current desires and stick to a plan. You will find, as with adults, kids’ hesitations about a pose or an activity usually melt once they try it.

7. Receptive: “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” This quote by Angela Schwindt really describes one of the biggest benefits of teaching kids: learning how to have fun, how to lose your inhibitions, and how to foster a sense of awe in even simple things. As a YogaKids teacher, you must be receptive to the little teachers before you, and remain receptive to the possibility that you might just get much more than you give from your students.

8. Allowing: A Chinese proverb says, “Teachers open the door, but the student must enter by himself.” Some kids will come to your class and not participate much at first. They might observe a lot and might not seem all that interested. Before you offer to refund the parent, be patient. Many children are slow to participate. I had one student who sat on her mat and wouldn’t participate or even look at me for 3 or 4 classes. During the 5th class, she started to come out of her shell — and now, a year later, she is one of my most engaged and outgoing students. Be patient and allow your students to progress at their own pace.

9. Positive: Yoga teacher Gabriel Halpern once said, “The law of Attraction says that what you give out through action, thought, speech and intention is what you get back.” As I said earlier, kids pick up on your energy. If you are stale and flat, the energy of your class will be too. Let your own light shine, and the kids will connect with that. The creativity of the YogaKids program really allows our teachers to open a jar of happiness in each class. We had a Foundations attendee from India join us recently. This student was introduced to yoga as a child and had a regular practice her entire life. “Yoga was forced upon me by my parents when I was a young girl. I would tell my mom, ‘it is so boring.’ The YogaKids program is so wonderful; I thought I was dreaming when I learned all the fun and exciting ways to teach children during my Foundations training. I am so grateful for this program; I wish I had been introduced to it in my own childhood.” Teach from the joy within your own heart and your rewards will be abundant.

10. Grateful: To be able to tap into a child’s joy is wondrous. When you are a part of that joy, it is beyond description. Meet each class, each pose, each child with gratitude and your life will be truly blessed.

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