When I discovered my personal Yoga practice over seven years ago I realized how much further Yoga goes in life beyond just stretching and making me limber. It’s a truly a tool that helps me to remain centered, balanced and calm. So if Yoga does this for me, I knew it can also help my children!
Inspired by the possibilities, I did some research and attended a Next Generation Yoga Teacher Training. Amazingly, after I took the training, a door opened with new life skills for my kids.
Since taking the NGY Teacher Training, my kids love to practice Yoga! Like many, they do so at home with each other. You know how kids like to play “family” or “doctor” or “teacher” with their stuffed animals? Well, my kids play “Yoga” with each other. Often, Emilija (age 6) teaches Elena (age 3) an NGY sequence including warm ups, standing postures, cool down poses and relaxation. Emilija plays music and guides her sister through a class with movements and breathing exercises. It is precious and priceless.
But beyond just the physical movements, like my Yoga practice, they are gaining so much more!
Emilija has positively learned how to create, teach and lead a Yoga sequence on her own. She even sometimes creatively uses a children’s book to convey a sweet Yoga-inspired message to her little sister. She incorporates imagery and a lot of educational learning. Emilija is empowered and poised, which to me, are incredible tools for life!
When Elena can’t follow her sister’s instructions, Emilija is kind and modifies the pose for her. She listens to her needs and displays patience. When Elena is in Deep Relaxation, Emilija lovingly massages her head, strokes her hair and rubs her feet. All the sensorial aspects of Yoga bring them closer together, understanding that love and care are essential for sisters.
Now, that’s when they are practicing Yoga in the living room. But how do they bring this practice off the mat?
My girls are kind with other kids, they follow directions at school and show respect to their teacher in class. They are natural gracious leaders. I have witnessed them use their Yoga breath during tantrums which help to self-regulate and calm themselves down. Their breathing is their tool of choice which helps them to find balance again and carry on with their day in a more positive way.
Giving kids the skills to lead, understand, breathe and self-regulate, to me, is Kids Yoga off the mat. They bring the tools with them everywhere they go and with everyone they meet. They do this because they practice Yoga on a mat, but they apply it off the mat!
Next Generation Yoga is who my kids are, how they talk, how they touch, how they love and how they show up in their community. They have found a safe, nurturing and calm place on their mats, and they have developed the capacity to find that same safe place within themselves, even without the mat. They are, themselves, that nurturing space.
Next Generation Yoga Teacher
Ana Mateljan is an NGY Teacher and Trainer, mother of two little girls and passionate about Kids Yoga! Based out of San Diego, Ana teaches at studios, schools and after school programs. She also volunteers when possible through local organizations to bring Next Generation Yoga to children who live in difficult social and economic circumstances. Ana grew up in Mexico and with Spanish as her native language, she has also brought NGY to Spanish immersion schools, thus expanding the reach of the wonderful NGY methodology to Spanish speaking students. Ana is very passionate about NGY and the benefits that yoga provides to children of all ages.