An Article from March 2009 Aquarian Times
by Karan Khalsa
Playing with Yoga – How to Help Children Love Yoga
Until I tried to get my son to do yoga, it hadn’t occurred to me that it would be so challenging. At ten, he is far more interested in Transformers and his Wii than stretch pose or long deep breathing. So I took it upon myself to get some tips from the experts.
“Teaching yoga is very different depending on a child’s age,” says Shakta Kaur. “With older kids, I try to engage their interest by talking about real life – exercises that help with shoulder pain from a heavy backpack or breathing techniques to help with concentration before a test. But telling stories is the most sure fire way of keeping children engaged up to age 8 or 9. Children play at yoga. The posture is important, but it is more important at that age to be fun and engaging.”
First I talked to Shakta Kaur, author of a wide range of yoga books, DVDs and CD for adults and children. I was really excited to hear that she is about to release a series of playing cards called Yoga Warrior Cards. “Most yoga products for kids are more focused on girls than boys,” she said. “I worked with two boys to create these cards. Their imaginations really brought this project to life.” The cards each have a bio-mechanical robotic character doing a different yoga posture with names like Power Bud and MaxiMorph. The postures have been given cool boy-friendly names (for example, shoulder stand is called Rocket Launch). I can’t wait for the cards to arrive! Hopefully they will find a home beside the Yu-Gi-Oh cards that fill my house.
Snatam Kaur is a strong believer in combining yoga and story-telling. In her DVD, “Shanti the Yogi: Mountain Adventure” she weaves a story and singing into a fun-filled yoga class. Snatam says “From Yogi Bhajan, I learned to engage children’s imaginations and use stories. Growing up, we always had stories with yoga at home and at the 3HO Children’s Camp. It made it really fun for me. In my children’s workshops, we use music to support the stories and exercises. It creates the whole environment and mood – ominous music and snake sounds when we go into cobra pose really enhances the imagination. And children love to sing and love the celestial communications (mantras with movements).”
“A little 4-year-old boy came to one of our workshops. He was really shy, sitting on the side with his mom. Months later, his mom wrote me to say her son didn’t participate in the class, but every day he sings Yogi Bhajan’s words ‘I am happy, I am good’ from my ‘Feeling Good Today’ CD.
Gurudass Kaur, who teaches Childplay Yoga workshops all over the world, said, “In order to work with children, you have to be able to embrace chaos, be very active, and go with the rhythm of children. Children play at yoga, they don’t practice yoga. I use so many techniques in my program. Using mantras with movement is a very powerful practice for children because they love music by nature. You want to involve as many senses as you can when you are working with children. And let them play!
Every child is unique, and there’s no end to the tools we can try to employ to get our kids interested in yoga. But it seemed the universal message from the experts is to make sure the kids have fun doing it.
For more information about the products and teacher’s in this article:
Shakta Kaur: Radiant Child Yoga Training: www.childrensyoga.com
Books, DVDs and Warrior Yoga Cards: www.SpiritVoyage.com
Snatam Kaur: Children’s Products: www.ShantitheYogi.com
Workshop Schedule: www.SpiritVoyage.com
Gurudass Kaur: Childplay Yoga Training: www.ChildplayYoga.com
DVDs and Music: www.SpiritVoyage.com
You can view and download the pdf of this recent issue of Aquarian Times here: Click to View and Download
Karan Khalsa is a child of the 3HO community. After spending 16 years living in India, between school and work, she joined Spirit Voyage to connect her business life with her inner spirit. Now her career is dedicated to sharing the healing sound current of music and the healing technology of yoga with the planet through Spirit Voyage.