When it comes to keeping children calm and focused, there are an abundance of positive benefits to teaching them the basics of yoga. First and foremost, yoga can help transform their frame of mind both in the class and when they are back into the classroom. Whilst I don’t experience what the children are like back in the classroom, their teachers consistently tell me how relaxed they are, and it’s such an amazing thing to hear!
To get the children into this mind-set we have five minutes of relaxation at the end of the class, followed by a minute of mindfulness; In an adults class , this would be called a savasana pose. Practising and repeating this practise enables the children to become so relaxed, that quite often a few of them fall asleep! What is apparent however is just how focused and self-aware the students are walking out of the yoga studio and into their next class.
"...if you're not wanting to be quiet, think about the person sat next to you who's trying to be quiet."
Yoga has also added to how well the children can work in a collaborative team. I always try to work with the teacher when they bring the kids in to the class. We organise the kids so that they are consistently rotating who they are paired and sat with. This prevents the children from automatically gravitating towards their closest friends.
When they are all sat down, we direct practices and poses that they do individually but I always encourage the children to help each other. This could be through simply supporting one another in balancing poses. It is so lovely and rewarding to see how the children are building new friendships, enhancing their communication skills as well as fine-tuning their ability to listen to instructions.
I often say things like ,“if you're not wanting to be quiet, think about the person sat next to you who's trying to be quiet”. By doing this, it provides the children with a different way of thinking, a change in perspective so to speak. This is especially important for the older kids whose life skills will radically shift when they move onto secondary school. They might not be going with their friends and so can use these newly learnt to forge new friends confidently and effectively.
Finally, one other benefit of yoga is that it’s different to the status quo! Whilst yoga is widely practised, it Is still new within the school environment and more often than not, is something completely new for the children to learn. So many schools have never experienced yoga or have only had access to brief snippets from different people who may pop in via online streams.
We have launched #TeachFit to ensure that they are just completely immersed in it and start to see the benefits of Yoga from a young age. It is one of the most incredible things to watch how the children develop over the 6 weeks as well as how much they begin to learn what the different postures are: the real crowd pleasers remain to be the Tree and Eagle poses!
About our Community Expert
#TeachFit programme lead
Kirsty is a yoga teacher on a journey of empowerment, building confidence and pushing the boundaries of what traditional yoga is and can be.
She leads the TeachFit Yoga workshops in our partner schools.