I’ve been meditating and focusing a lot on Aparigraha lately, non-attachment and letting go, and recently I was reflecting on how important this is in our NGY classes. So many of the “Tips for Teachers” touch on this concept. “Create an environment where kids drive the learning,” “follow their lead,” “let children be the teachers,” are just a few highlights.
These skills were quickly put to the test for me as I stepped on my mat for my first Kids Yoga class. I designed my own class about the seasons and about halfway through class, I realized we had gotten through nearly everything I had planned already. I felt a few seconds of panic, as well as embarrassment (I’m a school teacher by profession, I know not to under-plan!), and then I remembered what we had learned in training: be child-centered. I was prepared for this. So, I let go and gave the kids a chance to take the lead.
“Let’s go through all four seasons again,” I said, “and this time, you can all tell me some things you like to do and see each season!” They were overjoyed. The kids were not thinking, “wow, this lady ran out of stuff to do,” they were thinking, “wow, I get to decide what we do next!” Each child had tons of ideas and rose to the occasion of sharing their knowledge of the seasons and what kinds of yoga poses best showcased those things.
My mistake of under-planning that first class turned into a huge joy for me and the budding yogis. Giving them the opportunity to lead in their first Yoga class with me gave them autonomy and created a bond of trust between us. It was an incredibly fun class and afterwards, I went home and jotted down the ideas my students had come up with to add to class. Isn’t it amazing, how much a six-year-old can teach us?
As they put their shoes back on and got ready to go home after that first class I said, “I hope to see you again next week!” And the child who was hanging on his mother, crying before class, who had to be bribed to stay with a threat of ‘no video games for a whole week,’ replied brightly, “I wouldn’t miss it!”
Next Generation Yoga Teacher for 2-13 yr. olds
Veronica is a high school science teacher, who first started practicing Yoga as a pre-teen with her mom. She found herself practicing sporadically throughout her life until the stress of being a teacher brought her back to her mat with a vigor. She became a RYT, completing her 200-hour Yoga teacher training, in 2016 and soon after began teaching an adult candlelight class, as well as an elective class for the students at her school. Seeing how Yoga helped her students, many of whom have experienced a great deal of trauma in their lives, lit a deep passion for bringing Yoga & Mindfulness to schools, especially in high-need areas. Shortly after beginning the Yoga program at her school, she began to learn all she could about Yoga in schools, attending the Yoga in Schools Symposium at Rowan University, organizing a Mindful Educators training for teachers at her school, and training in trauma Yoga through Street Yoga. Continuing along this path, in 2018, she became a Next Generation Yoga teacher for ages 2-13 and has been teaching Kids Yoga at her studio, for birthday parties, and Girl Scout groups ever since. Her goal is to empower kids to be their very awesome selves!