Yoga has so many benefits for kids: from breathing techniques to understanding their bodies, to staying healthy, and having fun. One of the benefits that I enjoy the most as a Next Generation Yoga Teacher is how Yoga boosts children’s creativity.
I currently teach a group of ten amazing girls at an elementary school in San Diego and absolutely love it. I enjoy using the NGY Lesson Plans in my classes, adding my own ideas as well. The students I teach are K to 5th grade, so there are significant emotional and physical differences in the group. At first, I had trouble finding the right sequence to teach. It had to be simple enough for the younger children to follow without boring the older children. I started noticing that when they had to use their imaginations, they were totally focused and interested, and the class would flow beautifully. I started incorporating these types of creative movements and activities into every class. And, bonus, this made class planning more fun for me too!
In every class, I try to include some self-directed creative activity or craft. In particular, I enjoy having them draw and color their own suns for sun salutation out of paper plates. I have seen orange, yellow, and red suns, pink suns, suns with sunglasses, suns with bows and hearts, you name it! Giving them the freedom to create their own expression gets them in the flow of the exercise, creating a bond between them and the theme of the class.
Sometimes, each child creates their own Yoga pose, and I can tell they absolutely love it! They immediately start brainstorming, and they always surprise me with the most fun, creative, well thought out ideas. Our winter snow themed class went a little something like this. First we put on our winter boots and went snowboarding (warrior II) pose. We decided to go sledding with a friend (Sledding partner pose), followed by a session of fun ice skating (Ice skating partner pose). Next we made snowflakes, first by ourselves (star pose), and then all together in circle (child’s pose). We practiced “snowball breathing” with cotton balls, placing them on our hands and blowing them to help them fly. Finally we all went back to the cabin to have some hot cocoa and rest (final relaxation).
I think NGY helps children feel free to create, without fear of judgement, and that’s when their creativity shines. They aren’t afraid to show their personalities. We practice empathy too, sharing our reflections from class each day. The children feel safe expressing themselves openly, and they learn how to listen and respect the ideas of others.
When I started practicing Yoga years ago, I could have never imagined that life would take me on this amazing journey. I am so grateful when I teach Yoga to a child, sometimes for the first time in their life! It has been an incredible experience to teach them and learn from them. Beautiful little things mean so much: two sisters asking their grandparents for their own Yoga mats for Christmas, or a mom’s email, thanking me for teaching the “magic” world of Yoga to her young daughter. I read that and thought, yes, she said it perfectly. Yoga is MAGIC indeed, and when there’s magic, there’s love, there’s hope, and there’s happiness.
Ari Johnson was born and raised in Mexico. After finishing University, she came to the US to travel and work in San Francisco, CA, where she was introduced to Yoga. After marrying an American, she moved to Carlsbad CA, and continued her practice. She is now a stay at home mother of 3 amazing children: Noah, Matthew, and Nicole. She’s a certified Next Generation Yoga teacher and recently jumped at the chance to teach Yoga to kids. She also enjoys traveling, photography, and spending time with her family.