I have been teaching a kids class at the Power Yoga Company for over a year now and the more I teach the more I learn from the children.
When I was asked to write a blog entry I thought for a long time about what I would say, and I couldn’t decide… should I share the benefits of Yoga for kids, or my thoughts on the importance of keeping the classes dynamic and fun? Well yes, I could, but what I really want to talk about is comparison and competition.
As adults we constantly compare and contrast; we measure ourselves against other people, and we are bombarded with so much choice in everything – which brands to buy in the supermarket, what clothes to wear, which route to take to work – in everything we do. For children life is very different – there is not much choice in their everyday lives, so much is mapped and planned for them. From how to get to school and at what time, their timetables at school, what they eat, to what time they go to bed. The adults in their lives make most of the decisions. But children are still subjected to comparison and competition just as adults are. They compare themselves academically in class, they compete for attention from the adults in their lives, and they measure themselves against their peers in sport.
So what does this have to do with Yoga?
Well in Yoga there is no competition, there is no measuring or clamour (except when everyone is excited about a Yoga game). Instead, everyone is encouraged to do as much as they want to and to make suggestions for the enjoyment of the whole class. The games we play aren’t competitive, they are collaborative. There is no “I’m better than her” but sometimes there is “I’m better than last week”.
The partner poses we practise are reliant on both children giving it a go and seeing what they can do. Each of us has our favourite breath exercise but there is no prize for the best breathing! Relaxation or Savasana is as important in a kids’ class as it is in an adult one. It is often hard to lie still and let go, to let the mind drift and the body relax, to just be, but the children often tell me it is their favourite part of the class.
It is crucial for children to just be – no hurry, no worry, no comparisons or competition and yoga can supply this. What a gift.
Serena Lillingston teaches yoga for kids aged 8 – 11 years on Wednesdays at 4:45. To find out more about Serena, visit her website.