Yoga is a wonderful practice for so many reasons. One of my favorites, perhaps rooted in my education background, is that you can learn something each time you come to the mat.
You can never tell the form your best teachers will take. In my role as a kids’ yoga teacher I get to learn from the best. Here are three of my favorite lessons I learn from kids everyday.
Kids aren’t hampered by ego.
It is so easy to look at the yogi on the mat next to you and compare yourself to them. Even if your shoulder is hurting and you know today is the day to practice Chaturanga on your knees the temptation arises to perform the pose full on when your notice your neighbor jumping back in Surya Namaskar. We get so caught up in what others are doing and in listening to our ego. It’s amazing to watch kids in yoga class. Instead of letting their egos rule their practice I hear things like “Wow! Good job!” or “Nice! I’ll do it that way next time.” or “Show me how you did that.” A true appreciation of where they are that day and not putting pressure on themselves to be something they’re not is so lovely to observe. The purity of a practice, detached from the practice of others but appreciating them, is an awesome thing to watch as I teach my kids’ classes.
Kids are fearless!
Confession time. I have to admit the reason I haven’t achieved handstand yet is most likely fear. I’m scared I’ll fall on my back. I’m scared I’ll look ridiculous. I’m scared to stack my shoulders over my wrists and how that feels. Perhaps it would be safe to say I’m not alone in at least a few of these fears. One of the amazing things about teaching kids’ yoga is observing most children being open to try anything! They don’t have the experiences we’ve had that may create our fears in trying a pose. It is beautiful to see how quickly the kids in my class move from putting their feet against the wall to lifting one leg to going to a full on handstand attempt. A fall results in laughter and then their up and at it again. Openness to experiences with a true sense of “I can do that!” instead of “I’ll fall on my face if I do that.” is a magic that I greatly value in teaching kids yoga.
Kids live in the moment.
It is not uncommon to be thinking about your grocery list during savasana. It’s not strange that you may be hung up on that last pose you did while moving into the next. Adults have a lot of things on their “monkey” minds and it can be really hard to turn all that off and be in the present moment, in that breath. Kids have an uncanny ability to be able to just live in the here-and-now and leave a minute ago truly in the past. I love teaching kids yoga because they remind me every class about staying the moment. As I watch the kids move through class it is a rare event to observe a child getting hung up on the last pose. “Been there and done that” seems to be their mantra when it comes to past asana. When around that type of energy you begin to adopt their attitude. Another magnificent gift of teaching kids’ yoga.
Each time I walk into a studio or classroom to teach kids’ yoga I feel blessed. It is a time where you can always learn how to better your own practice. Please take the time to practice some yoga with your little and young yogis and see what they have to teach you. Enjoy your lessons. J