How To Incorporate The Senses In A Childrens Yoga Class?
When I discovered yoga; in 2008 I almost instantly started to teach yoga to children. At the time I was teaching children creative writing and theatre and loved to use yogic elements to help them get to know their body, themselves and other children a little better.
Why teach yoga to children? In the western world children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressures, video games, malls, and competitive sports. We usually don’t think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. The bustling pace of our children’s lives can have a profound effect on their inner joy—and usually not for the better.
I have found that yoga can help counter these pressures. When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfilment, they can navigate life’s challenges with a little more ease.
Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that’s noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give our children.
Different ways of learning In my teachings I experienced everybody learns differently. We have in common we all primarily learn through the senses but favor different ones in our individual learning styles. This is the base of what the educator Gardner calls “Multiple intelligences”.
Some people are more visual learners, others more kinesthetic and others more auditory. Many of us are a mixture of different degrees of all of above. By being sensitive and highly observant, by listening carefully and asking the right questions, we can begin to identify, some of our student’s innate learning tendencies and we can focus specifically to them.
As a yoga teacher, it can be helpful to incorporate all of the senses into your teaching style. In this way you will be sure to teach all of your students. Following is an introduction to different learning styles and how you might work with them in your yoga class.
1.Kinesthetic A kinesthetic learner is one who learns by physically “doing”. You will know a learner kinesthetically inclined when you ask them to either describe their day in words or in a posture and they immediately choose a posture.
After teaching or working with a certain body part, encourage your students to palpate the muscle or bone on themselves or on a friend by gently massaging. For example, before teaching balancing poses, sit down and massage each toe. Have your students feel their arch and heel. Talk about the four corners of the foot as a preparation for practicing the asana. In a first-ever yoga class, sit in a circle, criss-cross legs and have the students feel the spine of the person in front of them. Have them feel the shoulder blades of their friend ad the musculature around the shoulder blades. The activity brings immediate awareness to the sense of touch and to parts of the body that are so important in our asana. It also creates a sense of community from day one.
2.Visual It helps to model poses for visual learners, as these students can more easily get into a posture that they see rather than one that is being described to them in words. Also, when guiding children into postures use plenty of rich imagery. Ex: Lift your hands towards the clouds and try to touch them instead of lift your arms up. Or “from your heart, shine out through your arms and reveal the beauty in your heart” instead of “extend both arms out to the sides”
3.Auditory Weave stories into your lessons. More auditory children will adore this most. Create nice tales that enchant emotions. Bring in myths, parables and adventure to capture and magnify your intent. Stories settle children, they satisfy a child’s flow of imagination and open the doors for you as teacher to introduce truths, ethics and even great alignment. Children are thirsty for truths. They yearn to be engaged emotionally and, when they are, learning takes place on many levels and understanding is sealed. What a better place for this depth than a yoga class. 🙂
To conclude Please be aware of and combine all of these learning styles in your classes. Observe your students’ tendencies and follow their leads. Enjoy your teaching to children journey!
Namaste, Sophie Nusselder