The Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about teaching kids yoga

Via on Aug 12, 2011

Kids yoga teachers are a special breed of yogis. They are amazingly patient and uber positive. They are playful and kind, funny and fun, and they are always flexible and always smiling.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that folks can be so awesomely awesome!

Don’t they know about the dark side of teaching yoga to kids? Am I the only one? Are their superhuman yogi powers impervious to the kids’ kryptonite?

The truly good ones are.

So for the rest of us, here it is, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about teaching yoga to kids:

  1. 45 minute classes can feel like a life time. Sometimes a yoga class can feel like the last 45 minutes of school before summer vacation. Eternal.
  2. Kids are loud. Even when they are trying to be quiet and still–they are still loud.
  3. Kids cry. You can see it happening. The child pauses, contemplates whether or not they should cry and then slowly, timidly at first, the tears begin to fall. And the moment attention is called to the crying kid–BRING ON THE WATER WORKS!!!!! Nothing makes a yogi feel worse that a crying kid. Believe me.
  4. Kids point out all your mistakes and flaws. There’s nothing like a kid to keep us humble. Forgot to wax your upper lip? They’ll remind you. Forgot to bring the bubbles you promised? They’ll call you out on it.
  5. Kids interrupt. They want to tell you about their classroom hamster or their new toy dinosaur at the exact same time you want to start teaching. Funny how that always happens.
  6. Kids toot in yoga.
  7. Kids like Spongebob Square Pants and Dora the Explorer and so should you!
  8. If kids aren’t having fun you’ll have a mutiny on your hands. You’ll be waving the white flag of surrender while they run wild through the studio.
  9. The saying, “the more the merrier” doesn’t necessarily apply to kids yoga. Sometimes more is scarier! Taking on more kids than you can handle can be incredibly overwhelming and send you running for the hills.
  10. Kids love, love, love yoga props. Schlepping feathers and fuzz balls, bubbles and bells, puppets and hula hoops makes us glorified prop sherpas. Trying to avoid draging bags full of toys from your car to class by declaring that “our imagination will be our prop of choice” rarely works.
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About Laurie Jordan

Laurie Jordan is the author of YAWNING YOGA: A GOODNIGHT BOOK FOR A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP based on her successful bedtime yoga series, Yawning Yoga and the creator of Little Sprouts Yoga for kids. She has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work and is a certified yoga instructor for children and adults. Find her yoga practice here. Laurie took her first yoga class when she was 15 but the experience left a nasty taste in her mouth. She was kicked out for laughing at the instructors mantra, “feel the honey golden light in your...unmentionables” Eeww. Who would have thought that all these years later, that “honey golden” moment would be the one that influences her teaching the most? (Or at the very least, that it serves as a reminder to never say anything as hippy- dippy and dorky as that–and to always, always keep it real.)

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15 Responses to “The Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about teaching kids yoga”

  1. Lisa Flynn says:

    Oh my gosh – this is HILARIOUS! Thanks for keeping it real!!
    Lisa Flynn
    ChildLight Yoga & Yoga 4 Classrooms http://www.childlightyoga.com http://www.yoga4classrooms.com

  2. Thanks Laurie – here is a similar article which keeps it real for those considering teaching a kids yoga class http://yogainmyschool.com/2010/04/12/8-dirty-trut

  3. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  4. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Sweet!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  5. I wish this post had a place to answer all the 10 points mentioned. As a veteran of teaching yoga to PRE schoolers, there are answers to all of this, and I agree with Holle and Amy, now is not the time to make "jest" of teaching yoga to our youth.
    btw: adults toot in yoga class too.

  6. Marcia Wilson says:

    As a yoga teacher of kids and adults I see my most important role as one of "holding space." Giving kids space to be still, to chant, to focus in a pose, to share what's important to them, and to do savasana is what my kids crave. School and life can be a place of noise and interruption and craziness- yoga seems to be a refuge for kids- especially the boys. My school-age kids classes are an hour and they fly by- we barely have enough time. The preschoolers will chant for FIVE minutes if I let them! I breathe, they breathe and we see the light in each others eyes. The prep time I put into the class pays off. If things go off the rails a bit I hold space and we get back on track. And together we leave class one notch more connected to those around us- and to our own sense of who we are. Teachings kids yoga is an art and a science. Here's to the art of holding space!

    • Stephanie Clement says:

      Check out the earlier link… http://yogainmyschool.com/2010/04/12/8-dirty-trut
      Great article from yoga in my school.
      That link states a lot of true facts in a way that offers respect and understanding to our children. I believe there is a place for being loud, tooting, and more in yoga class. Kids need a space where they feel respected, listened to, and loved in the various forms they take on both active and still. However, when things get off track guiding them back to the class focus is an art and science that when taught from a place of embodying respect, and honor for who they are… what grace … what a connection you internally make with the kids. It's all heart! They recognize you as someone who cares about what is going on with them and you are there to offer guidance in how to come back… to themselves… through the yoga practice. Whether this be teaching kids or adults or looking within at our own self this is the key soften, open to grace, hug to the midline, inner body bright, extend your heart and ground through your feet…. I love teaching "Grounded Yoga" for kids, tweens and teens for what it offers to our world and the respect, dignity and love it offers our children…our world.

      • Laurie Jordan laurie says:

        I totally agree with you. I saw this article after Donna posted it and I thought to myself, whoever wrote that did an excellent job of providing solutions to the struggles of teaching kids.

  7. Laurie Jordan laurie says:

    Wow. I truly didn't expect all these responses. I wrote this article with my tongue firmly planted in cheek… I thought the tone was clear. I have been working with kids for 15 years–as a social worker and as a yoga teacher–and having a sense of humor has been a life saver. Being able to laugh through some pretty awful moments makes everyhting more palatable and it makes me a better teacher, a better advocate and a better cheerleader for these kids.
    And please let me be clear, I have the highest expectations for the kids I teach. I believe it is our job to raise them up. But I also believe that it is imperative that we start from where they are, be flexible and open to following their energy. Kids are way too stuctured and stressed. Yoga does not need to join the ranks of their other over scheduled activities. I appreciate your feedback.

  8. Amy Haysman says:

    Laurie,
    This is good to know. I totally agree that laughter is important and a gateway to elevation. There are a lot of people reading this blog and I felt it was important to let them know a perspective that reflects my experiences which are quite different than what you wrote in your article. The fact that we are discussing teaching yoga to kids in the first place is a wonderful thing and as it becomes more and more mainstream our responsibility as kids' yoga teachers to be clear in our message will only grow more important. Thank you for being open to the feedback.

    • Laurie Jordan Laurie says:

      Amy, having an open dialogue is what makes this forum so great. I respect your views and I hope you don’t hold it against me for having some fun. Xo LJ

  9. @haskins2 says:

    I posted a piece today about kids and yoga. Some of the "deeper" moments. They all get something out of it, some more than others. I had a boy last year who clearly disliked being there. He kept looking longingly out at the kids on the soccer field…

  10. Holle Black says:

    amen Amy. I completely agree!

  11. Holle Black says:

    You put it perfectly Amy. While people think its funny to put children down, as if they are really little aliens , nobody who is teaching to them should feel that way. Teaching children, yoga or anthing else, is not an in joke for adults to roll their eyes at afterwards. If you connect to your students they will connect to you, if you Ground your students they will elevate!

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