Living with Vitality: Teaching yoga to children
Ryan Summerlin April 7, 2014
VAIL — At first glance, kids may be the least likely group to embrace a yoga practice. In my experience, though, a child’s body and mind are born ready for the work on balance, strength and flexibility.
Yoga helps kids cope with increased pressures of growing up in today’s fast-paced world. And that world is becoming more and more programmed; we now seek connection through a screen rather than a conversation.
Yoga is an ideal vehicle for realizing self-discovery, in our lives at any age. Yoga is a healing practice. Children as young as 18 months can use breathing strategies to help shorten tantrums. In pre-K and elementary school-aged children, yoga can serve to increase body awareness and get kids moving in a non-competitive format. It has measurable effects on attention span and self-regulation, which ultimately impacts test scores and classroom behavior. In tweens and teens, yoga is a tool for improving self image. The practice is a simple tool to help all kids get moving and feel more successful.
Since I founded Young Warriors in 2008, I’ve trained over 200 teachers to offer the gifts of yoga to children. I’ve found there are two simple components for success in teaching yoga to children: a love of yoga and a belief in each child’s potential. It doesn’t hurt if you also enjoy playing and laughing.
Learning BY Teaching others
My teaching methodology centers on self-discovery; finding your potential and using your personal light to help others discover their own best selves. Some of the most successful kids yoga teachers I’ve encountered came into their teacher training program without any yoga teaching experience. Others came in with very little yoga experience and a great love of teaching children. And some have become involved through a strong personal yoga practice.
Each day, I experience a moment when I cannot believe this is where my journey has taken me. My proudest moments are the ones when I can see the sparkle in someone’s eye because they discovered something they didn’t see before. Children serve as a reminder to us all to loosen up, not only our hamstrings, but also our heartstrings.
Young Warriors kids yoga teacher training at the Vail Vitality Center is May 3 and 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participants receive a tool kit of strategies and ideas to help them successfully teach a yoga class to children. Every participant receives a manual, access to children’s yoga music and a training certificate. Young Warriors supports trainees long after the weekend is over by answering emails and phone calls, offering continuing education programs and showing up for kids and teachers wherever we go.
For information or to register for Young Warriors kids yoga teacher training, visit www.vailvitalitycenter.com or call 970-476-7960. The cost is $350 for the two-day training and registration is required. No previous teacher training is necessary, but yoga experience is helpful.
Christen Bakken founded Young Warriors in 2008 and is the founder of Rockin Bhakti Yoga. To learn more, visit www.yogaforyoungwarriors.com.