Yoga is a journey that helps so many adults live their best life. Why not kids too? We chatted to Lara Potgieter of WellMiss and Yoga4Kids® about how children can benefit from this ancient practice.
Why do you think learning to practise yoga is such a good idea for children?
Children live in a world of incessant stimulation, with things like computer games, constant advertising and competitive sports making up their day-to-day reality. Yoga is helpful in countering these stressors. It encourages self-esteem and self-awareness and fosters co-operation and compassion. When children learn techniques for relaxation and inner fulfilment, they can more easily navigate life’s challenges.
So it’s something like a bubble of calm in a world gone mad?
Today’s children are being born with an incredible amount of energy vibrating at a high frequency, but they often have no tools to help them direct or manage this energy. We can see the effects of high-frequency energy and super-sensitivity incorrectly channeled all around us today.
There has been an increase in the number of children suffering from ADD/ADHD and being prescribed Ritalin; our children are becoming more and more self-conscious, with media-provoked body issues surfacing far earlier than we’d care to admit; depression and anxiety are on the increase in children; and many are very clearly living in fear, unable to communicate effectively and worlds apart from the inherent power and wisdom of their little bodies and big souls.
Yoga creates the ‘download’ or process time necessary to put their sensory world into perspective. Recent research has actually proven that yoga enables children to channel their energy in more creative and constructive ways.
Is there a minimum age?
The youngest we’ll teach is three.
What aspect or principle of yoga do you feel is most beneficial for your young students to grasp?
It is important for children to become aware of the heart centre and the consciousness associated with this, on both an emotional and a spiritual level. They need to be given the tools to open the heart.
Consciousness is finally shifting, albeit slowly, from ego to heart, and children being born into this generation have a great understanding of the power of heart versus mind consciousness. As yoga teachers, we are the voice that they don’t often hear at school or even at home. We are the facilitators that allow them the opportunity of accessing their inner resources and truth.
Are the classes just like an adult yoga class, or are there differences to allow for shorter concentration spans, for example?
A typical children’s yoga class will always begin with a bit of quiet reflection time. The teacher will direct participants into a dignified and still seated pose and introduce a series of meditative breathing exercises, cleverly disguised as things like ‘bunny breath’, ‘cake and candles’ and ‘balloon breath’.
These simple mindful practices help to centre the children, allowing them to focus inwards and become aware of the present moment. It also directs the energy flow into the body, from whence it can then be managed and directed by the yoga postures that follow.
In yoga we believe that the body and the mind are inextricably connected, so the actual poses wake up the children’s often stagnant or frustrated energy, getting rid of the excess and allowing the rest to flow in a way that helps children to develop better body awareness, strength and flexibility; build balance and co-ordination; tone internal organs; and promote an overall sense of wellbeing, both physical and psycho-spiritual.
It has been said that a child’s soul stands seven feet high. Children are like sponges, especially between the ages of three and seven, soaking up the world around them. The practice of yoga will remain within a child’s being for a lifetime. It is therefore necessary to be very aware of how you talk to them and conduct a class.
Children are so susceptible to our energy. While we are already thinking and behaving according to years of societal programming, children are relatively perfect beings, each with an amazing amount of ingenuity, creativity and originality. They have not yet been conditioned by negative thought processes or formed too many bad habits. Yoga can be seen as one of the tools that can be used to prevent the world from tainting our children. As a teacher, you need to promote a sense of self for each child, detailing how very special she is and how powerful her mind and body are.
Tell us a little about WellMiss…
A Cape Town-based multi-modality practitioner, WellMiss offers classes, consultations, treatments and training that cater to every level of being, from physical and emotional to spiritual and even vocational. Growth and healing are facilitated through fun and imaginative Yoga4Kids® classes, invigorating Nia Technique® dance classes, in-depth Emotional Freedom Techniques® treatments and training, and intimate Heal Your Life® personal development workshops.
When and where WellMiss offers a mobile service in the Cape Town area, with a host of flexible private or group class, training and workshop sessions presented either in an intimate treatment room or at your home, school, office or other centre.
Contact + 27 82 979 2395, [email protected], www.wellmiss.co.za., Facebook, Twitter
Photography WellMiss, Pinterest