Why teach children’s yoga?
I wrote my thesis on yoga in the national curriculum for my (adult) yoga teacher training at Bristol School of Yoga. Combined with launching YogaDad, it’s always felt like a logical progression that I would be drawn towards children’s yoga. Mainly due to the enjoyment I get from practicing yoga with the boys and following guided Headspace meditations at bedtime. Teaching them these life skills should stand them in good stead as they grow up.
Wellbeing activities such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness are growing in popularity in the education system. More often that not as part of after-school clubs, but also increasingly integrated within the national curriculum, where all pupils can benefit. Notwithstanding these successes, there is still a long way to go. With health education entering the national curriculum from autumn 2020, now is the time for yoga to shine.
What are the options for children’s yoga teacher training?
You would think that given the increasing interest in yoga there would be a plethora of children’s yoga teacher training courses on offer. Far from it, particularly in these parts. I deliberated over online courses, such as Rainbow Kids or Cosmic Kids, which offer high-quality teaching from the comfort of your own home. On the flip side, Michael Chissick offers a unique 1-day children’s yoga teacher training course, where you spend a day observing Michael teaching eight classes across different year groups within schools, albeit in Hertfordshire.
The stars aligned though with the Collins & Barth School of Yoga children’s yoga teacher training course. Not only was it taking place at St Werburgh’s Community Centre in Bristol, but the course offered the perfect balance of yoga stories, yoga games, partner yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques. The icing on the cake was that Jane Collins, one of the UK’s leading children’s yoga practitioners was teaching the course. I signed up in an instant and whooped for joy when I had secured a place on the course.
What was the Collins & Barth children’s yoga course like?
The course was everything I expected and more. For starters, my fellow yogis were absolute stars – ranging from a musician, occupational therapist, school teachers, yoga teachers and a civil servant (oh, hang on that was me!). Everyone came with the right mindset, an insatiable appetite to learn, support each other’s development and have fun. Jane’s friendly demeanour and relaxed manner made the course all the more enjoyable.
What did the course cover?
We learnt so much – for example, how to create yoga adventure stories using classic children’s books and use beautifully drawn picture cards to support yoga pose activities. We even adapted a sun salutation sequence to appeal to different age groups and abilities through the use of sounds, teaching cues and elaborate movements. I tried this out at my Yoga For Men class, and at least a few shouted woof, woof in Downward Dog!
Were there opportunities to teach yoga to children?
More than anything this course gave me loads of confidence to teach children. I seized the opportunity by teaching yoga adventure stories at my boys’ nursery on three occasions – we went on a bear hunt, space adventure and a witch’s birthday party. The latter was a story we created from scratch at home for Hallowe’en, using yoga movements to wrap the present, make our way to the party (scaring away all manner of creepy things en route) before taking a ride on the witch’s broom and being turned into a pumpkin-shaped child’s pose after drinking the witch’s special brew at the end of the story.
Seeing how the children reacted to the stories was the absolute highlight. Some were in my face from the start, others sitting afar, before slowly edging closer, and beginning to mirror my every movement. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching my adult classes, but there is something very special from seeing how much the children appreciated my classes. They can be your harshest critic, but also your biggest fans and they showed it.
Already I’m looking for opportunities to apply my newly learnt skills. First up is what should be a fab family yoga fundraiser at Winford Village Hall in the Chew Valley on Saturday, 30th November. It’s the last day of Movember, so not only will I be showing off my Mo, I will be raising money for local charity, A Sibling’s Wish which supplies beautiful personalised wooden memory boxes to children who have lost a sibling. It’s £5 per child with all proceeds (less costs) donated to charity. Get in touch to book a space.