I wrote this article for SivanaEast. If you have a little one and want some ideas for teaching them a yogic sun salutation, check out https://blog.sivanaspirit.com
By Jeff Dickson
"These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill."
Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.
- Thich Nhat Hahn
Returning to the MOMS club she participated in with her mother from years past, Ava helps demonstrate during the reading of 'I Can Be One Too! A Child's Book of Yoga Poses'. Thank you Kelly and Kathryn for hosting!
Great to have so many little ones joining Ava and I, in their pj's, doing the yoga poses of 'I Can Be One Too!'
Thanks to Erin Gambrill, Children's Services Supervisor with the Carroll County Mt. Airy Library, for hosting Ava and I today for an author reading/demo event. A little one decided to join Ava on her mat for downward facing dog. Toddlers are the best!
I recently wrote an article, which was featured at YogaU's online site. Thought it may be of interest for other yogi's or non-yogi's.
Playtime Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Toddlers
By: Susan Kain
As a teacher of 'Toddler and Me Yoga,' a class designed for children aged 12 to 36 months, I’m often asked, “How can you possibly expect to teach yoga for that age range?” The questions usually continue with, “Aren’t they full of energy?” Yes! “Don’t they have short attention spans?” Yes! “Isn’t it chaotic?” Not usually.
Children of this age are naturally curious and sponge-like. They want to play and learn. It’s an important developmental time socially, physically and emotionally. They are experiencing life through their eyes, ears, and sense of touch. They are learning and expressing through language. Toddler yoga provides an introduction to yoga with the freedom for the children to explore in a supervised setting along with their parent or caregiver.
Yoga Class for ToddlersWhat is a typical 45-minute class like? Since children of this age crave repetition, many basic songs and yoga poses are repeated each week. (They will remind you if you’ve forgotten any!) Music with associated movements and books are wonderful ways to help teach. Children learn by watching adults, so parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in the movements and poses.
As an instructor of toddlers, you quickly learn what activities the children prefer and when it’s time to change course. They enjoy various props such as a pinwheel or Hoberman sphere to practice deep breaths, a scarf held overhead to become a rainbow, or a play squirrel to climb their leg while in Vrksasana (Tree Pose).
Making Yoga Poses Appropriate for ToddlersAny basic yoga pose can be made appropriate for toddlers. For example, a basic Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) becomes reaching the arms up to touch the sun and hanging down to tickle the toes. Vipariti Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose) pairs well with the 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' song. Holding hands for 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' is an opportunity for a modified Upavistha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose). 'Ring Around the Rosie' morphs into 'Ring Around with Yogis.'
A toddler yoga class has lots of hugs and kisses! Throughout the class, parents and caregivers are encouraged to celebrate every attempt at a yoga pose by their child. Teaching yoga to children should be a fun, silly and playful time.
Swami Saryananda Saraswati said, “The yoga experience for the child of this age should not come through lessons but through play.” He adds, “While enjoying the play with the children, the yoga teacher does not want to simply entertain but to provide an environment for utilization of all yoga activities for unfolding and balancing the total personality of the child. As the child grows older and enters school, the presentation of yoga can take on a more structured form.” (Adjustments of a child’s yoga postures generally do not occur until the age of eight.) (1)
We’ve all read about and some of us know first hand the benefits of yoga for children. Do you think you would be interested in teaching yoga for this age? Who is considered the best suited to teach toddlers?
Attributes of Good Teachers for Young Children: (2)
Susan Kain, e-RYT, RCYT, has taught yoga for seventeen years. She is a former educator with over thirty years of experience in working with children. In preparation for toddler and preschool classes, Susan has created various picture books. The first to be published is entitled, I Can Be One Too! A Child’s Book of Yoga Poses. You can reach Susan through her website at www.susankain.com.
Active Start, guidelines available from The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) for children from birth to the age of five, indicate children aged 12-36 months should have at least 30 minutes of adult-led structured physical activity every day.
(1.) See Saraswati, S.S., Yoga Education for Children, Chapter 3 and 4.
(2.) McMullen, M.B., 2013. National Association for the Education of Young Children. http:/www.journal.naeyc.org
Susan Kain is a Registered Yoga Teacher, Pilates instructor and a Certified Personal Trainer with classes for toddlers to senior citizens.