Children these days have bustling lives. Parents are busy, and there are school pressures and competitive activities that over time have a large influence on a child’s inner joy, self-expression, and imagination. In a kids’ yoga class, children learn useful tools in a fun and explorative environment.
Kids’ yoga is all about letting go and having fun. The teacher lets go of form or alignment of postures. Even though a lesson plan is prepared, it is all about co-creation and going with each moment led by little imaginative minds. Children are natural yogis. Their hips, hearts and minds are open and ready to grow and learn. They have no problem staying in the present moment. In a kids’ yoga class yoga asanas (physical yoga practice) are used as a base for an exploration of many areas, such as music, dance, storytelling and art, developing creativity, independent thought, and happiness from within. Having fun involves a shift in attitude and interaction with others, growing in love and compassion, honouring themselves and others. Yoga provides a way for children to learn these concepts that will deepen to life-long practices and shape the citizens they become. They grow in respect and are mindful how they treat others and the environment.
Children fall in love with yoga easily. It is important for a teacher to instil the benefits of yoga, such as balance, flexibility, concentration, peace, and taking time to be still with meditation and visualizations. Since most children love to express themselves verbally and with movement, these are easily taught with yoga postures and activities. The teacher gets out of their way and lets them explore and express themselves in roles of animals, trees, flowers, sculptures or travel machines. “Rainbow breath”, “time travel”, animal poses, partner yoga and yoga tag are a few examples of what children experience at a kids’ yoga class. Children need to discover the world on their own, so a creative environment where they can uncover their truths is vital. As they perform various animals or nature asanas with added vocals or music, they are engaged and awareness is deepened.
I arrive as a teacher, but I am more of a facilitator guiding the children while opening my heart and mind to let them guide me. The benefits are reciprocal. An open environment is created where the children are allowed to be free expressive human beings in a relaxed and calm environment. Witnessing and being whole-heartedly part of this experience is a reminder for me to soften my heart, play, and not lose touch of the child within me.
Kids’ yoga can start from as young as toddlers and go into the teen years. In teen yoga, the class is more structured and dynamic. Challenging postures, partner and acro-yoga are introduced, challenging the students on the physical level and introducing deeper concepts through themes. The themes introduced instill social, communication and interaction skills that aid with confusing emotions, pressures and insecurities teens go through, and create a shift in thoughts and attitudes. The class concludes with the theme with a meditation, discussion and activity. Examples of themes are dreams, fears, fitting in, and caring. Self-esteem, confidence and self-awareness develop giving teenagers coping tools to use when challenged, so that they can let go and be who they are without worry of being bullied or judged.
These are among the many benefits and life skills that are instilled with yoga for children and teens. Yoga at any age provides beautiful lessons about being free to be who you are – an expressive, loving and creative human being.
Ella Isakov is a humanitarian and certified yoga instructor in the Toronto area. She teaches Vinyasa flow, Restorative, and kids yoga classes. She has traveled to over 30 countries and lived in seven, bringing a global perspective and life experiences into all her endeavours.
Ella is grateful for the beautiful gifts she continuously discovers on her yogi journey, on and off the mat. Her passion and purpose in life has always been to teach and inspire others along their path. In 2011, Ella raised $20,000 for Haiti with the “Off the Mat, Into the World” challenge and went to Haiti in February, 2012. She is also a leader in the Toronto yoga community and on the committee of “Yoga Unite,” a yoga initiative that holds fundraising events to create awareness for diverse non-profit organizations in the Toronto area that are creating change.
Ella left her career as an elementary school teacher, but has combined her two loves of yoga and children with her company “Stellar Kids Yoga”, providing yoga to children in Toronto with qualified kids-loving yoga instructors. Her goal is to reach out to communities where yoga is not accessible for children and families. Ella is also a Phoenix Rising yoga therapist, writes articles for several magazines, is a certified raw food chef, and leads holistic yoga retreats several times a year.
Ella teaches in studios and homes, as well as private and semi-private classes. She also holds contracts with schools to provide yoga as part of the Physical Education or After-school program. To find out more about Ella Isakov go to www.yoginipath.com and www.stellarkidsyoga.com