YouYoga

YOGA THAT LETS YOU BE YOU

Danelle’s Take on the Teachings of Marsha Wenig, Creator of the YogaKids Curriculum March 14, 2012

 

 

 

Kids' Yoga at YOUYOGA: Half-Moon Pose at the wall

 

Since YOUYOGA’s kid’s program will be influenced by the teaching of Marsha Wenig, creator of the YogaKids video and educational curriculum,  I felt it important to share what she says and believes on the topic of yoga for kids:

“When presented in a child’s language, yoga can help counter the stress experienced by young people living in a hurry-up world. Our children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressures, incessant lessons, video games, malls, and competitive sports. We usually don’t think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. The bustling pace of our children’s lives can have a profound effect on their innate joy—and usually not for the better.”

Wenig explains that yoga can help counter these pressures. Yoga for kids teaches:

  • techniques for self-health,
  • relaxation
  • inner fulfillment
  • self-esteem
  • body awareness with a physical activity that’s noncompetitive.
  • cooperation and compassion
  • flexibility,
  • strength,
  • coordination
  • concentration and sense of calmness 
 
Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. When yogis developed the asanas many thousands of years ago, they still lived close to the natural world and used animals and plants for inspiration—the sting of a scorpion, the grace of a swan, the grounded stature of a tree. When children imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to get inside another being and imagine taking on its qualities. When they assume the pose of the lion (Simhasana) for example, they experience not only the power and behavior of the lion, but also their own sense of power: when to be aggressive, when to retreat. The physical movements introduce kids to yoga’s true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one’s part in the delicate web of life.

Yoga with children offers many possibilities to exchange wisdom, share good times, and lay the foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen.  Wenig notes that when teaching yoga for children, one needs to honor the children’s innate intelligence and use the yoga asanas as a springboard for exploration of many other areas—animal adaptations and behavior, music and songs, storytelling, drawing—it is a truly interdisciplinary approach to learning, informed by the flow of child’s play.

Wenig’s program, YogaKids,  combines yogic techniques designed especially for children using Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner, an author and professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes eight intelligences innate in all of us—linguistic, logical, visual, musical, kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal—and emphasizes that children should be given the opportunity to develop and embody as many of these as possible.  In keeping with this theory, YogaKids integrates storytelling, games, music, language, and other arts into a complete curriculum that engages the “whole child.” We employ ecology, anatomy, nutrition, and life lessons that echo yogic principles of interdependence, oneness, and fun. Most of all, our program engages the entire mind, body, and spirit in a way that honors all the ways children learn.  When they stretch like a dog, balance like a flamingo, breathe like a bunny, or stand strong and tall like a tree, they are making a connection between the macrocosm of their environment and the microcosm of their bodies. The importance of reverence for all life and the principle of interdependence becomes apparent. Children begin to understand that we are all made of the same “stuff.” We’re just in different forms.

For more information contact Martha Wenig at (800) 968-0694 or e-mail innerwrk@niia.net

Adapted from “Yoga for Kids” by Martha Wenig, Yoga Journal


 
 

Yoga For Kids! January 31, 2012

Danell Drury, 200 CYT

Kids naturally love to move, and they still have their natural flexibility and suppleness that we start to lose once we spend hours sitting in chairs, like in school! Yoga for kids encourages this natural love of motion and facilitates adventures in which kids can further explore their bodies and the amazing things they can do. Yoga adventures also stimulate young imaginations by encouraging the visualization of various animals/creatures for poses: “Make your body into a little ball like a tiny mouse! Or let’s put our legs up the wall and stand on our hands like upside down spiders!  Can you be a peeing dog? Try to lift one leg behind you in the air from dog pose?!”  

In addition to being a whole lot of fun, yoga for kids also creates kinesthetic awareness that promotes the development of good co-ordination and the fine and gross motor skills so important to the developing child.  Kids’ yoga helps to boost self-esteem and confidence and provides an environment  where positive peer relationships are fostered, and healthy life style habits encouraged.

Typically, kids’ yoga classes are based around a story or adventure, and the children’s bodies become the characters, the things they encounter, even the modes of transportation for the adventure – boats, bicycles, airplanes….and as with adult yoga, a time for quiet stillness and reflection is part of kids’ yoga too. Relaxation and deep breathing are coping tools that can be as important to children as to adults.

 

Some tips for encouraging our kids to do yoga at homeTry Being Trees!

  • Take time to be trees in a forest (vrksasana/tree pose), letting littler children just balance the toes of the raised leg on the floor next to the standing foot.  
  • Talk them through noticing how their one foot is rooting into the earth. Let them imagine roots growing from the foot, deep down into the ground, to hold them there.  Draw their attention to the strong and firmly held trunk of the tree –the leg and torso (abs and pelvic floor muscles engaged to help balance). Let them wave branches (their arms and fingers) in the breeze.
  • And then take a moment to sit down quietly, close your eyes and imagine you are in a forest. What sounds can you “hear”? Birds chirping? Wind rustling?  Encourage children to make the sounds they imagine hearing for you.   
  • Talk about how trees are important to life on earth, how they clean the air for us to breathe and provide homes for birds and animals and how we can look after trees – e.g. recycling paper.
  • Then do some deep breathing, lying in savasna/relaxation pose, imagining that you are lying in a beautiful forest. Describe the forest for your children to visualize, focusing  on all the senses – what can you hear, feel, see, smell, taste as you lie there. Or if there is an older child, perhaps have them describe the forest – great creative writing practice!
  •  Once you have had a few minutes of quietness, encourage the children to draw the forest they pictured and the animals or birds they heard in it.