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Photo by John Goodridge

Photo by John Goodridge

I just happened to be at Target today with my family and found packs of animal flash cards in the dollar section. I bought two decks—Animals of the World and U.S. Animals. Each deck has 36 cards that are color illustrated on one side and has facts on the other side. What a great tool for teaching yoga to kids.

Ideas for how to use the cards in class:

  • Let each child pick a card and act out that animal in a yoga pose. If there isn’t a pose for the animal, have the child make it up!
  • One child acts out his pose. Then the class does the pose. You can go around the room with each child acting it out individually (as the classic stadium wave) or all together as a class.
  • One child acts out their animal pose. Then the class acts out the animal pose. Then the next child acts out his pose and the class follows, but this time the class also acts out the previous pose or poses. This creates a very dynamic, flowing class. Fun and energy releasing!
  • Teach 5-8 poses to the class using the cards as visual references. Then teach the card’s poses in the opposite direction. Then mix the poses up so the class feels how the transitions between the poses change when the cards are placed in a different sequence. Ask them whether it flowed better or worse each time you change the sequence. See if the kids can sequence the poses in as many different ways as possible.
  • Lay out mats in circle configuration. Teach 5-12 poses. Lay one pose on each childs’ mat. Turn on energetic music and play yoga freeze. When the music stops, the children get into the pose on the mat. When the music resumes, the children walk or run around the mat circle.

One of the reasons that I love to teach yoga to children is because of yoga’s power to create change in both the body and mind. Children are just learning about themselves. Their self opinion is tied to the people around them — peers, teachers and family members have a huge influence on how kids see themselves. Yoga allows kids to find their own strength and teaches children to trust their own voice inside of their head instead of always listening to what others have to say.

That being said, the reality is that other people do effect how children see themselves so why not keep a reminder of the positive things others have said or written to refer to on the occasion when self-esteem falls.

A great idea that I found on a fabulous website www.beliefnet.com for adults is to create a self-esteem folder. You can call this folder something more playful for children but the general idea is to fill up this folder with notes from parents, siblings, friends and teachers about the child’s positive qualities. Birthday cards, drawings, certificates from programs or sports, quotes that people have said about the child, work from school in which  they have pride — basically anything that will help boost up the child’s feeling of worth should be included.

I remember back in elementary school wanting so much to be this one girl in my class. She had long black shiny hair, she was smart and pretty and was admired by everyone. I was so jealous of her that I also remember getting in trouble for throwing cut up paper at her… if only I had a box or file to glance at back then to remind myself that I too had qualities that made me special.

Current Classes:

MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB

Mondays:
6-7:15am Power Vinyasa (H)

Thursdays:
6-7am Power Vinyasa

Story Time Yoga
1-1:45pm

Sundays:
5-7 year olds
9:45-10:30am
8-11 year olds
10:45-11:30am

STUDIO MOVE!

Wednesdays:
10:30-11:30 Power Vinyasa

Fridays:
Yoga for Athletes
9-10am

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