Visiting primary schools across Lancashire and the Fylde Coast to deliver yoga and mindfulness sessions is an absolute joy.
A typical class will entail:
exploring imaginary worlds from outer space, a tropical rainforest to the depths of an ocean where we try out new yoga poses;
having fun playing games with the poses we have learnt in the story;
being creative and reflective about our emotions, practicing gratitude and kindness with mindful crafts;
and using breathing techniques for relaxation.
One of my favourite poses to teach children is Tree pose. It is beneficial on so many levels.
Each individual child can explore their sense of balance and spatial awareness.
It is a pose that can be easily differentiated to age/ability, and children have a real sense of achievement when they manage to hold it, even if it is for just a few seconds. It is also a pose they can do in pairs, or in a circle as a large group, which encourages teamwork.
It invites a conversation about, and appreciation for nature: from discussing favourite tree types – its leaves and what it bears, the seasons, animals that live or frequent trees, to how we can live more environmentally friendly.
In one of my current groups there is a boy with ADHD. He loves tree pose as he says it is a quick way for him to get his “fuzzy mind” still, so he can concentrate better. A wonderful example of how yoga can enable individual minds to be less reactive and more in control of their thoughts, words and actions.
Breathwork is really important and the simple techniques the children learn to lengthen and deepen their breathing bring immediate results of calm and relief from anxiety. I always remember an eloquent 6-year-old boy, from a breakfast club session, who told me he loved taking 10 big breaths because “his worries walked out of his ears”.
The final relaxation and meditation element of a class is always popular, even though at times a challenge to do. Even little ones appreciate the permission to have a few minutes time out, to be still and just be – away from screens, the busy schedules of modern family & school life.
The practices we share with children can set them up for a lifetime of managing stress, fear and emotions in a healthy way, which is why I am proud to be a teacher at The Yogi Group and find the job rewarding, a pleasure and privilege. The challenges of the current climate can definitely be eased and better navigated with yoga and mindfulness in the toolkit.
Miss Emma (and her assistants Nora the Llamacorn and Seb the Slothicorn)