Kids don’t “do” Yoga. They ARE Yoga so it’s no wonder that they love Kid’s Yoga. Have you ever watched a child eat a cookie? Time stands still and it is just her and the cookie in their own sweet existence. She devours it intentionally, one bite at a time, with her whole being and with purpose and enjoyment. In this moment, you are in the presence of their “now.” As you watch with clear eyes, something familiar and long forgotten stirs inside of you. Your breath stills and you begin to remember what you have forgotten.
Children possess a mind that is open and aware, not influenced by the past and previous knowledge. They freely think and act while they discover and create their world moment to moment. They are fearless and unburdened by mental chatter. This state of being, that is free of past perceptions and judgements, is living enlightenment. As we get older, this beginner’s mind gets buried and we begin to forget the now. Thoughts become habits. These habitual thoughts lend us to assumptions and limited ways of thinking and, in essence, we go on auto-pilot. A habit no longer resembles its original thought much like an oak tree bears no likeness to the acorn from which it grew.
Have you ever gone on a journey to somewhere new and your eyes are filled with wild wonder as you take in all of the sights and sounds? Time seems to slow to a “waiting for Christmas” crawl in the most delicious way. The camera in your brain is firing off flash synapses at massive speeds attempting to take all of it in and process it. When all your synapses are firing, you are focused and in the moment. Your mind feels electric. Welcome to childhood – when every moment is a new adventure full of endless possibilities.
A former instructor, on the topic of inner self or soul, told us to watch a child and there you will find Atman. I asked him how we, as parents, caregivers and teachers, help to preserve that state in our children. Essentially, we don’t. We must respect that each child has his or her own path to follow, that they are their own beings and must have their own experiences in order to create their identity so that one day they can self-realize. We can, however, gift our children with a healthy template to mindfully navigate life’s challenges.
Kahlil Gibran the artist, poet and author wrote on the topic of children in his poem, “The Prophet”:
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
One such life tool that we can gift to our children is Yoga. Yoga compliments our children’s natural state of being within a loving and playful environment. Classes are carefully crafted and geared towards addressing such topics as anatomy, self-awareness and self-esteem, growing bodies and expanding minds, compassion, empathy and love of ourselves and others all within the Yoga tradition. Yoga taps into children’s boundless energy and directs it inwards, affording children a template with which they can mindfully navigate the fast-paced complexities and adversities of growing up. It gives them the confidence to believe that they are truly the creators of their own happiness and navigators of rougher waters. Together, the teacher and the children become one and everything and every thought becomes an extension of themselves.
The next time you ask “Why Do Kids Like Yoga?” also ask yourself “Why Aren’t We, As Adults, Doing More Kids Yoga?” Put on your 3 year old or 6 year old hat, join a Next Generation Yoga class and “just be” in the presence of their Atman. I’m certain that you will be welcomed. You will receive a most enlightening gift and you, too, will begin to remember what you have forgotten.
Next Generation Yoga Teacher
Karen and her family reside in Snohomish, Washington. Both she and her husband enjoyed over five years of living, volunteering and traveling around the world before meeting in the Middle East and getting married in Africa. After another five years of travel together, they have paused for a bit in the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their family. Join them on their journey as young parents trying to carve out a life of adventure and global education for their children. When not working their day jobs, they are entrepreneurs, a budding kids yoga instructor, weekend trekking warriors and takers of chance when it comes to any opportunity to get out there and explore. Their (mis)adventures are proof that travel with toddlers can be fun, inexpensive and possible … even if the preparation takes longer than the trip itself! They are also learning that their best laid plans often get abandoned in exchange for the opportunity to discover the world through their children’s eyes.