It can seem counterintuitive to do yoga with children. An adult yoga class requires a certain amount of focus and awareness of the body and the mind, as well as an ability to be still. Not always qualities that you would link to children!
And yet, even though a children’s yoga class is very different from an adult one, the end result is pretty much the same.
First of all, there is a theme, a story and the yoga poses are linked to the story. The children are not just doing yoga, they are telling a story using their body and their breath. Using their power of imagination, Warrior 2 becomes a surfer, a gladiator, a horse, or somebody roller-skating.
While telling the story, they move their body – getting some good stretches in the process – and totally invest themselves in the moment, which is the very essence of mindfulness.
They learn to use their breath to relax or to let go of things that bother them. They develop their hand-eye coordination with throwing and catching games. They learn to recognise and express their feelings, to listen to others and be kind.
They also learn to relax. There is nothing quite as satisfying for me as seeing a whole group of children surrendering to the relaxation at the end of the class. Eyes closed, they lay on their back, listening to music or to a story, they breathe evenly, and it seems as if they are melting in the moment, completely letting go.
So, there you are: stretches, mindfulness, breathwork, a new awareness of their body and what goes on in their mind and finally, a new found ability to completely let go and rest. These benefits are what any grown-up might expect from a yoga class. The road that leads to them is different – and definitely more dynamic than my usual adult sessions – but the end results are the same.