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4 practical ways that yoga can help children to love and accept themselves.

By Veronica Greene (Printed in Om Yoga Magazine FEB 2018)

Children are all different. They come in all shapes and sizes. They each process the world around them very differently and all shared experiences are very individual. Yoga is often encouraged as a ‘non-competitive activity’ where children can learn many of life’s lessons. It is recommended as a practice that can teach children about self-awareness, both physically and mentally – promoted to help kids accept and cherish themselves, just as they are, and to encourage them to become more tolerant of others. All this is very true and can help build the same traits in adults too!
How can you practically achieve this in a kids yoga class?

Competition or a competitive spirit comes from within.

Teachers in schools know this and use it to their advantage, giving extra points to the group who tidy their desks first or the group who sit quietly.

We, as yoga teachers, can very much promote that everyone is a star but how can we get that message across if the children are busy watching each other and comparing themselves with the child on the next mat.

Every child wants to achieve and compete with themselves to master that challenging pose.


Here are some practical tips on how you can encourage each child to be all they can be and to love and accept themselves in that moment.

Lesson 1 – We Are All Individuals (Acceptance of Self and Others) 

Teach them that each of us has different strengths and (as everything has an opposite) weaknesses. Start the lesson talking about opposites (i.e. the opposite of small; opposite of light; opposite of strong). Ask each child to demonstrate a yoga pose that they feel they perform well. Then ask them to demonstrate a posture they feel weak in or feel it’s not one of their ‘best’. Then explain to them why they are strong in that pose. (i.e. you have amazingly long arms so you can catch or you’ve got really strong legs from your football). Explain also why they are weaker (i.e. you are younger than some of the others so you still have to build your upper body strength etc.). What’s interesting is the children will very kindly join in to tell each other about the postures they think their classmates are ‘brilliant’ at! Encourage this group interaction and all the children will leave feeling 10 feet tall (the opposite to small!).

Lesson 2 – Our Amazing Power Within 

Teach them about the power we all have to change how we feel. Sitting in a cross legged, slumped posture is not a ‘good’ posture. Change the posture to an erect spine with open chest and long neck and this becomes a ‘better’ posture. Ask them to move between the two. Which posture do they feel better in? Explain to them they have more fresh oxygen entering their lungs, travelling to their brains helping them feel more alert.
It’s always great to ask them what their younger siblings would do if they didn’t get their own way. Most will automatically show slumped shoulders, closed chest and petted lip! Explain that their posture affects how they feel – it’s hard to stay in a ‘bad’ mood if you stand up tall and open your chest.

Lesson 3 – Love and Energy

Teach them that our thoughts can change our energy. Let the children look at a cute picture of a puppy, kitten or baby. Ask them to close their eyes, think of the picture and to feel any changes in their body. Most will be able to describe a ‘hot’, ‘fuzzy’, ‘tingly’ or ‘happy’ sensation. Ask them to point to their heart. Ask them to close their eyes and imagine their heart glowing. Feel this glow spreading through the whole body, spreading to the arms, down to their fingertips and now down their legs all the way to their toes. Explain that this spreading of light is energy spreading through their bodies. We are just like a huge battery that can feel drained or just run out of energy. If we visualise love from our hearts, filling every part of our bodies, then we can recharge our energy.

Lesson 4 – Nobody is Perfect

Teach them that everyone has a bad day and to accept it as that. Balance postures are perfect for this. Setting the class up in tree pose and holding for two minutes..this will bring out the inner competitor in each child. When a child loses their balance or their foot touches the floor then they sit down and wait. Change legs and repeat. Usually the results will be different for each leg. Explain to the children that just as the results for each leg are different the results on another day will be different – some days you have better balance than others just as some days in life will be better than others. Remember, every day is a school day and in every lesson plan we can find a life lesson!

 

Veronica Greene founded Little Greene Yoga® and offers a Certified Children’s Teacher Training package (for 3-5yrs; 5-8yrs; 8-12yrs & Teens) www.LittleGreeneYoga.com

A candid look at what a children’s yoga class can be like and why doing a certified teacher training course really matters.

By Veronica Greene (Printed in Om Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine (2016))   

You know that yoga is your passion and you really love children so it seems obvious to combine your interests and teach yoga to children, but do you have what it takes?

Absolutely!

You’re a qualified yoga teacher and you were a kid once so how hard can it be?

Kids Yoga - Lion's Pose (Simbasana)

Kids Yoga – Simbasana (Lion’s Pose)

You head off for your first children’s class armed with your adapted ‘adult class plan’. By adapted you mean you’ve changed the posture names from Sanskrit to their translated names; you’ve added extra animal poses and lots of animal noises so you know you’ll have them eating out of your hand!

You walk into the room to meet your 10 students ranging in age from 5 – 12 years. The 12 year old is not amused to be in the same room as a couple 5 year olds and 3 of the children are running round the room.

You ring your little bell to get their attention and ask them to sit, cross-legged on their mats. Everyone does as they’re asked and you silently congratulate yourself. You start the class with some seated forward bends to help calm and focus their attention.

Then Jonny put’s his hand up!

“Can I go to the bathroom?”

Then Marcy asks to go and then Charlie…………..3 bathroom trips later you’ve restored calm and returned to your forward bends. You become distracted by a sniffing sound! Jane wants the purple mat but Tracy is on it………………………….

This can be the reality of teaching a children’s yoga class!

If you’re not put off and still want to share the incredible gift of yoga to children then the required skills of class management can be taught. If you are a qualified adult yoga teacher then you don’t need a separate qualification for children but did your training course prepare you for the challenge of teaching children?

child's uttanasana variation

Ragdoll Pose (uttanasana)

There are many children’s courses out there so choose one with a proven track record of running successful children’s classes. Does the training company actually teach children’s classes or have they developed a course simply to add to their training program? Are they certified and are their graduates actually out there teaching?

Given the statistics that more than 50% of individuals, who complete a Kid’s Yoga Training Program, never actually go on to teach then some support after training would be an asset.

 

Age appropriate training should also be considered – training techniques used to engage a 5 year old will not motivate a 10 year old leading to the child becoming bored and quickly disinterested in yoga.

 

Teaching yoga to a classroom of children can be incredibly daunting so choose a course that actually gives you experience of teaching ‘real’ children as part of their syllabus.
Before choosing your course consider all of the points above but most importantly call and speak to the trainer to get a fuller understanding of what the course entails and if it meets your needs.

There is a course out there for everyone!

Have a look at Little Greene Yoga’s comprehensive list of Certified Teacher Training Courses.

 

Veronica Greene founded Little Greene Yoga® and offers a Certified Children’s Teacher Training package (for 3-5yrs; 5-8yrs; 8-12yrs & Teens) www.LittleGreeneYoga.com

As the weather cools and the cold and flu season gets well underway it’s important to look after ourselves.  Exposure to viruses is unavoidable, unless we live like a hermit!

Working with children or in air conditioned offices can increase our exposure to many winter viruses

So if we can’t avoid coming into contact with ‘bugs’ the only solution is to strengthen our immune systems to work effectively when we do encounter something ‘nasty’!

 

Here are some tips (for adults) that will see you through the cold and flu season……………….

Wash your hands regularly

Whether you have been holding hands with the children, shaking hands in business meeting or simply opening a door simply adjusting your hands will be carriers of germs. It’s when we rub our eyes, noses or scratch the side of our mouths that we transport these germs to our own bodies

Gargle with a diluted Tea-Tree solution (1 cup of boiled water, left to cool then add 1 drop of tea-tree pure essential oil).  

This is great practice after coming into contact with a roomful of germs i.e. hospitals, doctors surgery, schools and aeroplanes.

Inflammation or a tingling sensation in your throat usually means that an infection is trying to enter your body. Gargling with Tea-Tree can stop the attack going any further! Tea-Tree oil has antibiotic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, antiseptic, expectorant and anti-fungal properties!

Keep your home healthy by diffusing oils.

Not only will be enhancing the atmosphere of your home but you can kill germs at the same time.

There are a number of ways to do this:-

– Place a glass/ceramic bowl on top of a radiator filled with water and 10/20 drops of pure essential oils.

– Use a specially designed ‘aromatherapy burner’. (These can be candle based or electrical )

– Place a small bowl of water and 20 drops of your chosen oils on top of a radiator

 

You can have loads of fun mixing your desired oils to create an aroma which is pleasing to you. 

 

Here are 4 great oils that every home should have!

 

Lavender –           antiseptic, antiviral, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, deodorant & insect repellent

Lemon      –           antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, disinfectant, detoxifying and insect repellent

Tea-Tree   –           antiseptic, antiviral, antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, disinfectant & expectorant

Eucalyptus –          antiseptic, antiviral, antibiotic, antibacterial, decongestant, deodorant, disinfectant & insect repellent 

 

In 1925 experiments proved tea-tree oil to be 13 times stronger than carbolic acid!!!

Lemon oil has been shown to neutralise, the micro-organisms which cause the bacterial infections of typhoid, diphtheria and Tuberculosis within 5 -20 minutes! When vaporised it takes less than 3 hours to neutralise the germ that causes pneumonia!

CAUTIONARY NOTE: Some oils are toxic, some are skin irritants and some promote menstruation (emmenagogue) so should not be used by pregnant women. If in doubt consult a qualified Aromatherapist.

 

Keep yourself healthy and your immune system in tip-top condition

Optimum Nutrition plays an important part in developing a healthy immune system. Sugar, alcohol, stress and lack of sleep all rob our immune system and leave us vulnerable to picking up any bugs that are around. 

 

At the first sign of a cold (usually a scratchy throat or eyes)

–  Take Sambucol (this is an elderberry extract) 

In double blind trials (results published in 1995) Sambucol was tested on people diagnosed with any one of a number of strains of flu virus. 20% of patients showed significant improvement in symptoms within 24 hours and a further 73% showed improvement within 48 hours. After 3 days 90% had complete relief of their symptoms. The group on a placebo took at least 6 days to recover!

–  Take sufficient Vitamin C to stop a cold/virus from taking hold.

1000mg of Vitamin C a day helps reduce the incidence of colds. For a cold virus to ‘take hold’ it must get inside the cells and program them to replicate the cold virus. If the body’s tissues are saturated with Vitamin C the virus cannot survive. Tissue saturation is likely to be achieved by taking around 10 – 15 grams of Vitamin C in a day or 3000mg (3g) every 3 hours ( this dose would only be recommended for a couple of days at the start of a cold/flu).

Note:  this is nearly 400 times the RDA. Recommended Daily Allowance is the amount suggested to stop deficiency, not achieve optimum performance from the body. Vitamin C is water soluble and not toxic though too much may result in loose bowels.

 

Drink 2/3 cups of Cat’s claw Tea. Cats claw Tea is a powerful anti-viral and immune boosting plant from the Peruvian Rainforest. 

 

Do Yoga!

The following Asanas (yoga postures) are very useful in relieving stress, stimulating the immune system while balancing the endocrine system.

 

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana

This restorative pose not only calms your nervous system but also stimulates your immune system.

Stay for 5-20 minutes as long as you are comfortable.

Note: if you suffer from backache sit further from the bolster or just lay flat on the floor.

– Place a bolster or cushions on the floor

– Sit on the floor, in front of the bolster (your sacrum a fist distance away from the bolster)

– Place the soles of your feet together in Baddha Konasana then lie back onto the bolster support under thighs with cushions or blocks

– Place a folded blanket or cushion under your head so your chin is slightly lower than your forehead

– Lay cushions (or blocks) by your sides and rest your arms and hands on them

– Finally lay an eye bag or a folded strap across your eyes then relax and enjoy

 

Supported Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)

Like Supta Badha Konasana this pose calms your nervous system and stimulates your immune system. It also has the additional benefit of balancing your endocrine system (your hormones).

This posture does require some yoga experience……

– place some cushions (or blocks) at the foot of the sofa

– sit on the sofa, place your legs up the sofa back then gently slide your shoulders to the floor, until they rest on the cushions.

– If your sofa is too low then place a cushion or folded blanket under your sacrum

– Stretch your feet towards the ceiling.

 

NOTE: The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.

 

 
Why our training courses are different!
 
 
Little Greene Yoga endeavours to train Certified Children & Teen Yoga Instructors to the highest quality. Only those who meet the criteria can use the Little Greene Yoga badge.
 
This is quite a controversial statement given that there is no governing body for yoga and that anyone can set themselves up as a yoga instructor ,and many do. Most Children’s Yoga Teacher Training courses are only 3 days long with many organisations competing for students. Adult course, on the other hand are usually 200 hours long and this is the basic minimum.

 

So what can you expect from a Little Greene Yoga course that sets them apart from the rest?

 

We will not let anyone on a course without the appropriate yoga experience

Although there are many course who will let students attend their training course with little or no training experience, Little Greene Yoga is not one of them.

Yoga is for everyone but as a parent do you really want your child taught by someone who has only 3 days (gained on a course) experience in yoga.

 

We don’t offer 3-18 years in one weekend training course – that would be ridiculous!

Within the Little Greene Yoga Foundation syllabus there are 2 distinct age groups covered – (3-5yrs) & (5-8yrs). There is a little overlap in these two age groups, so they are combined into the Foundation course.
Little Greene Yoga feels that teaching children is a serious matter for both student and teacher and that 3 days is the minimum required to learn to teach the foundation course on its own. Once the foundation is sound then the teacher can move on and develop their skills for the older age group.
The teaching syllabus is completely different to maintain the interest and develop the body of an 8-12yr old, so is offered as a separate training course.
This philosophy is built on more than a 15 years of experience of teaching children within these age groups.

All courses are very intensive and practical. You will leave exhausted; exhilarated; bursting with information; you will have experienced teaching your first yoga class to children and will be happy in the knowledge that there is backup when you need it!

 

None of our Certified Teacher Training Courses are available online

While we understand that many people struggle to give up time to attend a course, we believe that to truly learn being with like minded people under the guidance of a mentor is the best way. Often online training seems so appealing but unless we are extremely disciplined then this can be money spent without ever completing. Why not truly invest in yourself, and the children you plan to teach in the future, by attending a course where you will be nurtured as the individual you are.

 

The number of students on any course is kept small

We don’t cram as many people into our courses to fill the room. We only allow 6/8  on each training course! This way each student is nurtured into a completely individual instructor in a very organic way – we take individual teaching styles and help you maximise your strengths.

 

Acrobatics is not part of our course

While acrobatic yoga can be great fun it can also be extremely challenging and require body awareness and strength – both of which children have not yet developed. Our courses are about developing strong, balanced bodies in a fun, safe environment so this will never be taught

 

We offer support once qualified – whether it’s 4 years down the line or 2 days

We are happy to advise each instructor on both the yoga and the business aspect of teaching children yoga. There are extra class plans available and additional specialties that our graduates can access. These include our “Yoga for Schools” add on among others.

 

We don’t have certificates made up to hand out on our last day as how can you predict that your students are going to pass!

Our courses are not designed for spectators! Each instructor leaves our course having developed their own lesson plan then taught it to a class full of children. The feeling of achievement on leaving each course is amazing. This practical session also serves as a practical exam. You will never see photos on Facebook of our instructors posing with their certificates – successful completion of both written and practical exams are required.

 

 

 

 

Teaching children yoga is a tough task and more difficult than teaching adults yoga. Could you do it?

Printed in Om Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine (June 2015)

Teaching yoga to children is often portrayed as the soft option.

Perhaps this is due to the impression, many adult yogis have, that children’s yoga is not real yoga!

 

Is this true?

Young children can’t hold poses for any length of time; they don’t have great balance; they don’t have the ability to look inwards and most won’t develop body awareness for many years to come; they can’t sit at peace on their mat and they often can’t make it through a class without a toilet break!

Not ‘real’ yoga, if we allow our limiting minds to judge, but definitely not the soft option.

 

Teaching yoga based classes to children is a real challenge.

Around 50% of trained children’s yoga instructors never actually go on to teach with another 30% stopping within the first year. It’s daunting! Children are a tough audience. They won’t keep attending a class because it’s “good for them!” They want instant gratification and if they’re not getting it, they won’t be back.

 

One class does not fit all!

A 10 year old will not be physically or mentally challenged by the same class plan as a 5 year old. Most 10 year olds will not want to be seen in the same class as a 5 year old! To run successful classes each developmental stage has to be catered for.
So why bother?

When yoga is presented using a child’s language it awakens their incredible ability, enthusiasm and imagination. Yoga based classes can teach children about the power within themselves, physically and mentally.

 

It will give them a lifetime toolbox of techniques to self-calm, energise, be in the moment and accept – traits which can help navigate life’s challenges.
But why go to all that effort when there are ‘easier’ audiences?

Teaching yoga to children will open your heart and stimulate your inner child in a way that even the best yoga practice could take years to achieve.

You see life and yoga through fresh eyes – eyes that have not learned to judge and minds without barriers. You become one of the kids as you enter their world – a world where ego is left behind. It’s a great world and it’s so much fun!

So you’re up for the challenge? What next?

There are many children’s courses out there so choose one with a proven track record of running successful children’s classes. Does the training body still teach? Do they offer support after course certification?

Choose wisely as you’re not just changing your life but the life of every child you teach!

 

Veronica Greene founded Little Greene Yoga® and offers a Certified Children’s Teacher Training package (for 3-5yrs; 5-8yrs; 8-12yrs & Teens) www.LittleGreeneYoga.com