Yoga is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise in the world today. It has been practiced for thousands of years by people interested in improving their flexibility. It is also an excellent way to meditate and relax. However, it is not just for adults. Children can also benefit greatly from the regular practice of yoga. There are specific ways it should be taught to young people to help them get the most benefits from it. Children typically have a much shorter attention span than adults. Therefore, they will not be able to sit still and hold various poses for an extended period of time. This means that a different approach much be taken when teaching children. Here are some useful tips that will come in handy if you plan on teaching kids yoga classes in the future:
1. Time limits
It is important to understand that the bodies of children are not the same as adults. As a yoga instructor, you can not put them through the same stressful regimen of exercises and poses that you would for an adult class. A child’s body is still in the process of developing. The length of a class should be based on the age of the children. Older children will be able to physically hold poses for longer periods of time. Therefore, a child’s class time can be gradually extended as they get older. Students who are age five or younger should not be allowed to hold a pose longer than one minute. The total length of a class for this age range should not exceed 15 minutes. Students who are age six and older can be allowed to hold poses for up to 90 seconds. At this point, the length of the class can be extended to 30 minutes.
2. Supervise the children at all times
While a yoga class is a fun environment, instructors should always be on the lookout for situations where a child could possibly suffer an injury. Children will occasionally attempt a pose that their body is not physically ready for. If this happens, there is a risk of the child straining a muscle or breaking a bone.
3. Explain everything
In order for children to get the most out of a yoga class, it is important for the instructor to completely explain the purpose for every pose and breathing technique. Simply telling the children to do things like they are robots is not in keeping with the tradition of yoga practice. Children need to learn and understand what parts of the body are being benefitted when you tell them to pose or breathe in a certain way.
4. Take it slow
Children will generally not have the same fear or exercise the same caution as adults when it comes to moves such as handstands, headstands or splits. Therefore, there is a greater chance the children will not take the necessary amount of preparation needed to perform these moves safely to avoid injury. When a child attempts any of these positions, he or she should be personally supervised by either the yoga instructor or an assistant. If a child is trying to perform a handstand or headstand, they should only do so on a padded mat with an instructor holding their body to prevent them from falling. This is especially important for children age five or younger.