Written by Sophie Nusselder for Parimukti
When I discovered yoga in 2008, I almost instantly started to teach yoga to children. It was great as it is a very low profile way of starting to teach yoga. In the meantime very profound! As children learn and develop behaviour that forms much of their personality I believe that teaching yoga to children can change the world. My purpose in teaching children the yoga elements is to inspire children to celebrate their goodness, the love and beauty in their hearts. I like to teach children in a playful way, to get to know their body, themselves and other children a little better. Through the practice children can develop basic necessities of life: trust, caring and belonging; so that the children’s inner and outer world truly can blossom.
I am excited as I will be teaching a children’s yoga class in the Parimukti Teacher Training while I here. This is part of their 200hrs training. I will share some theory about how to structure a yoga class for children and how to deal with children of different ages and what to do if a child is challenging you, or does not want to participate. Then, we just go and have fun and be children ourselves and experience a children’s yoga class.
Actually, developing basic necessities in a yoga class is a great theme for a yoga class for any age group; therefore I think yoga should not only be taught in yoga schools but also in institutions with special population groups; like prisons, youth detention centers, hospitals, etcetera. In 2009, I had the opportunity to guide workshops in yoga and creative writing with children, teenage mothers and young prisoners in Peru. It was a beautiful and challenging experience. In 2014, I completed a special training conducted by The Prison Yoga Project founder, James Fox. James shared his experience of teaching yoga and mindfulness practices to incarcerated youth and adults, including thirteen years at San Quentin Prison and other rehabilitation facilities (www.prisonyoga.com). PYP training focuses on trauma sensitive; mindfulness based asana practice. I was very much inspired by this training and I am open to explore methods and guide workshops for underserved and at-risk populations in the future.
Nowadays I teach about five to eight yoga classes a week in different yoga schools in Utrecht and Amersfoort – The Netherlands. My ashtanga, vinyasa, hatha and yin class have one thing in common: playfulness. Playfulness I connect with giving the practitioners freedom to explore their own body and possibilities in every pose. I strive to keep my lessons as accessible for each level, age and body type by giving them different options within each yoga posture. In this way I hope to create a friendly atmosphere in which everybody and every ‘ body’ feels welcome.