When walking into a kids and family yoga class it might strike you as to how different it is to a adult yoga class. From the placement of the mats, to the props and toys even the way the poses are practised, there is a lot that is different. Primarily, the reason for those differences is a kids and family yoga class is about connection. Not just connection with oneself (as it can be in an adult class) but with each other as a family and then, also as a community.
In our family and kids yoga classes we practice yoga mostly in a circle. It is the basis of our Mandala (sacred circle). It offers support for wobbly poses, as we press palms together with our neighbour's in tree pose and aeroplane pose. Openness to positive and appropriate touch through a massage circle. Oneness as there is no hierarchy in a circle. Everyone can see each other in the circle and be seen.
Kids and Family yoga props are fun as well as functional. They range from feathers, to face paint, to scarves and magic hats, bells and whistles and cards and books; the list is endless and my props case is a bit like Mary Poppin's Carpet Bag.
Feathers, Balls and Scarves are used in breath games. A "magic "hat can transform us into magicians who can turn our friends into any yoga pose or yoga animal we wish (and of course, back again.) With yoga cards we play matching games, memory games. We feel the Tibetan singing bowl’s vibrations and enjoy its ring helping us to stay in a peaceful meditative state longer. With props, we are only limited by our imaginations. They foster liberation and playfulness, breaks down the walls we put up and promotes connection.
Kids have active involvement in the class' content. When kids pick up their imaginary binoculars to spy what animal they want to pose as in our Yoga journeys, they co create the class. They can even create poses! Our classes foster creativity and spontaneity.
Participation in the class is optional - Yes, that's right! There are a number of reasons why children might not want to join in with the class. As a cornerstone of yoga philosophy, children are encouraged to respect and pay attention to their bodies, making sure each pose feels good, coming into and out of shapes when they feel ready. The same goes for the class, if they are listening to their bodies telling them they don't want to join in, then we honour that.
It is also surprising how much they can take in by just observing - I have been told by parents whose child hadn't felt like participating in the class that day that later that week they were doing poses that we did in the class at home or showing them to friends.
Our poses are based on the same poses in an adult class however delivery is quite different. Through simplifying the poses, playing yoga games, using props, and talking their language and to their age level we deliver yoga to kids in a fun and receptive way. As they grow and their practice grows, focus can then be more on the asana postures and yoga philosophy and eventually will flow onto an adult practice.
Although kids and family yoga might have some differences it is an engaging way to introduce kids to a yoga practice and all it’s benefits. With so many fun and positive ways to connect with your family and children, it's worth seeking out a class.