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".
Toddler and Me Yoga
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.
Susan Kain is a Registered Yoga teacher, Pilates instructor, and a Certified Personal Trainer with classes for all ages from toddlers to senior citizens.