I don’t usually teach yoga for children, but yesterday I had the opportunity to sub for a friend of mine at a local independent school. It was a one-hour yoga class with five lovely tweens who listened well and applied themselves. I left the class feeling inspired because it reminded me what a beautiful thing it is to share yogic techniques with young people. Teaching yoga for kids is planting a seed of an idea that might take root right away or it may lay dormant for many years and sprout when its nourishment is most needed.
At the end of class, I taught a wonderful meditation called “Meditation to Take Away Thoughts You Don’t Like” from Shakta Kaur Khalsa’s children’s yoga book Fly Like a Butterfly. This is a great practice for any child struggling with worries and fears, and it’s also particularly relevant for tweens and teens, who are in a stage of life that can be filled with self-doubt and internal suffering. Here are the instructions:
1. Privately and silently, select an unwanted thought. It can be a haunting memory, a self-judgment (“I’m not good enough”), a fear or worry, or any negative feeling.
2. Sitting with a straight spine, make a cup of the hands with the right hand resting on top of the left. Raise the “cup” to the level of the heart.
3. With the eyes open looking into the “cup,” breathe in through the nose thinking of the chosen thought.
4. Breathe out through the mouth, blowing the unwanted words into the cupped hands.
5. Continue for a few minutes.
As I watched the students do this meditation, I knew that it might not perform its magic in minutes and forever rid them of their unwanted thoughts. Any meditation is more effective when practiced consistently over time. However, I was certain that just focusing and directing the breath and setting an intention to achieve control over the mind would benefit each and every one of those children. It was the beginning of realizing and experiencing that all they need to heal and be happy is within them and can be accessed through a yoga and meditation practice. And maybe next time they’re plagued by a haunting thought, they’ll try to blow it away. I hope so.