January 26, 2012

Kids? Yoga? No Thanks. ~ Mara Colbert

I do not like kids yoga.

There, I said it. I do not want to do yoga with kids, around kids, or with kids anywhere in the vicinity. I understand that there are some parents who enjoy doing yoga with their children, and some teachers who love teaching them. Good for them, and for the kids who are lucky enough to get to do yoga with them.

I would not mind doing yoga with kids if they could actually do what I say. But my experience has been that children are mostly unable to follow simple instructions such as “stand still” or “bend your knee.” Admittedly, this is a problem for some adults as well. But with kids, what might have been a tranquil and enriching experience can quickly degenerate into utter chaos.

I once agreed to teach a group of kindergarteners. I was dreading it, and I really should have said, “No thanks, I don’t teach kids yoga.” But I did it for the money (which I needed) and I hoped I would be pleasantly surprised by how much I loved teaching 5 year-olds to move and breathe (which I was not). Other yoga teachers encouraged me to sing songs, tell stories, and have the kids make up their own poses. Ick. I had a set of Baron Baptiste’s My Daddy is a Pretzel yoga cards that were sort of cute and fun to use. But when one of the kids puked directly on the cards, I swore off kids yoga forever.

I think that kids yoga is really about playing games and telling stories, and I’m all for games and stories. But for me yoga involves bringing minds and bodies into balance, or practicing acceptance of who we really are in the present moment, and kids already do this.

One of my favorite of the yoga teachings is santosha, or contentment. Acceptance of what is. This includes being okay with who you are and what you are good at, as well as what you are not so good at. I believe that I am pretty good at teaching yoga to adults, but teaching children is just not for me.

And no, I do not do yoga with my own kid. From the moment I announced my pregnancy four years ago people began sweetly asking the question, “Will you do yoga with your baby?” And I would respond, “Oh yes, of course,” while thinking to myself, “Jeez, I hope someone else will watch this baby so I can go to yoga.” Then once the tender young thing was born, blue in the face and screaming, people would inquire with a sparkle in their eye, “Does she do yoga with you?” And I would say with a knowing smile, “She’s a natural!” while cringing inwardly and thinking, “God forbid this succubus should claim my yoga mat, as she has every other area of my physical, mental, and emotional life.”

I love my daughter with all my heart. But my yoga practice is mine. It may be the only corner of my being that is private, quiet, personal, and mine all mine.

No kids allowed.

Mara Colbert is a yoga teacher, mother of a 3 year-old, and graduate student in counseling at the University of Missouri Kansas City. She strives to blend the tools and techniques of yoga practice and theory with more traditional cognitive therapy in order to treat people holistically. She also aspires to survive each day with some measure of grace and dignity, and looks forward to one day having more time to practice yoga and more money to get therapy. Connect with Mara on her website, follow her on twitter, or subscribe to her posts on facebook.

Article prepared by Yoga Assistant Editor: Aminda Courtwright. 

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