I love when parents share experiences of what their children retain from yoga classes. I think of this story every Halloween.
One year a mom said she anticipated her daughter might be upset by a store filled with Halloween displays. However, while some could consider a witch opening and closing her arms as menacing, this little girl did the same movement as a yoga pose while saying, "Look Mommy, that witch is saying 'I love you', like we do at class".
Consider joining me on Thursday's, starting 10-29-20, 10:30-11am (EST) for Toddler and Me Yoga! It's never too early for parents, grandparents or caregivers to share yoga with your little one! No previous experience is neded.
This class is sponsored through the Yoga Center of Columbia. Please visit
https://www.columbiayoga.com/online-fall-3-schedule for information on registration.
Below is an excerpt from an article I wrote for fellow yoga instructors, but it can also serve to provide you with information on this class.
Teaching Yoga for Toddlers
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 sponge-like, curious and 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.
What is a typical class like? Since children of this age crave repetition, many basic songs and poses are repeated each week. Music with associated movements and books are wonderful ways to help teach. Children also learn by watching adults, so the parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in the poses.
Any basic yoga pose can be made receptive to toddlers. For example, a basic Sun Salute becomes reaching the arms up to touch the sun and hanging down to tickle the toes. Lying with the legs up pairs well with the ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ song. Holding hands for ‘Row, row, row your boat’ is an opportunity for a modified wide straddle forward fold. ‘Ring Around the Rosie’ morphs into ‘Ring Around with Yogis’.
A toddler class has lots of hugs and kisses! Throughout class, parents and caregivers are encouraged to celebrate every attempt at a pose by their child. Teaching yoga to children should be a fun, silly and playful time.
Swami Saryananda Saraswati says, ‘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.’
(Corrections of a child’s yoga postures generally do not occur until the age of eight. [i])
[i] See Saraswati, S.S., Yoga Education for Children, Chapter 3 and 4.
Susan Kain, e-RYT, RCYT has taught yoga for going on twenty years. A former educator, she is also a certified ACE personal trainer (since 1995) and Pilates instructor.
During this time of uncertainty, children and adults can benefit from the knowledge of the many breathing techniques available to help bring calm.
I've written an article for YogaUOnline, which I hope you'll share with family and friends.
May you see the light in the darkness during challenging times.
May you feel the loving presence of those who hold you in their thoughts and prayers.
May your spirit find what it needs to sustain you on this journey.
May you discover your inner strength and face difficulties with dignity and grace.
May you be filled with comfort, love, strength and a lasting sense of peace.
A mother of a preschool yoga student emailed me this morning looking for ideas to help keep her daughter's yoga practice active during this time of social distancing due to the pandemic. We shared different ideas and she came up with the project of having her children paint rocks with themes of encouragement to leave outside for others.
Seva, in Sanskrit, means selfless service. It is something we give without the need to receive back. How wonderful to see these children contributing to the uplifting of their community!
Spirit of winter, rest and help us to enjoy your peace in this quiet place.
Remind us to pause during this season.
Grant us awareness, keep our gratitude fresh each day.
May the songs in our heart be blessings and insights to us and to others
and may compassion always shine forth from the depths of our hearts.
With the holiday season upon us, we can easily become overwhelmed. Nature invites us to reconnect, to seek out simplicity and what truly brings joy. Perhaps for you it's a walk outside, a talk with a treasured friend, or the laughter of a child. We're all invited, especially now, to carve out these moments of time for ourselves.
Meister Eckhart, a German philosopher from the late 1200's said, "We know so many things but we don't know ourselves. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there."
During this week before Thanksgiving, we look to be grounded, to find that calm, safe and secure space. Yoga's sister science of Ayurveda reminds us autumn is a time of vata energy. When in excess, vata contains the possibility of associated imbalances of headaches, anxiety and a general lack of energy.
We can ground ourselves by spending time in nature, using the yogic breathing technique of alternate nostril breath, and eating grounding foods such as root vegetables served warm.
In my classes this week our focus word was 'santosha' or 'contentment'. Yoga Sutra 2.42, 'Santosha anuttamah sukha labha' roughly translates to 'contentment brings extreme happiness'. The month of November, with its Thanksgiving celebration, is a perfect time to practice contentment and gratitude - to love our life as it is, count our blessings and find joy in every moment.
The yogic practice of aparigraha, non-clinging or non-grasping, teaches us to let go of what we no longer need - something nature has forever done. Trees no longer hold their leaves, and we, too, can let go of the past, face the future to become the best of who we are.
Nature can teach us.
This week I did leaf gazing meditations with classes. I encourage you to take a walk, feel the earth beneath your feet, and select a leaf. Hold the leaf at eye level and gaze at its colors and shape. Close your eyes and feel its texture. Does it hold a scent? Bring your focus to your breath as you hold the leaf with your eyes closed. Feel your connection with the Earth. Consider a positive affirmation. Know just as the trees have let go, you can as well creating space for something better.
Susan Kain is a Registered Yoga teacher, Pilates instructor, and a Certified Personal Trainer with classes for all ages from toddlers to senior citizens.