Yesterday I taught my first yoga class for kids! It was the first of a weekly class I will be teaching as part of the after school program I work for, and it went really well. It’s a class of around fifteen elementary school students and their parents. Another instructor and I will be alternating weeks – she focuses mainly on hatha yoga (breathing and meditation), I focus mainly on ashtanga (poses, movement, and active meditation). My only experience teaching has been with college students, so this should prove to be quite interesting. Everyone seemed to really like it yesterday, and I’m looking forward to several more months of teaching the kids.
For anyone interested, here’s a break-down of yesterday’s introductory lesson plan:
I. We did introductions and discussed what we knew about yoga. Then we talked about some important ideas to keep in mind in yoga class:
1) Ahimsa (non-violence), means we pay attention to how our bodies feel. If something hurts, don’t do it!
2) Namaste (the teacher in me recognizes the teacher in you), means students should feel like they can contribute to the class. If there is a pose you would like to do, or a suggestion you would like to make, let everyone know!
3) Competition. Yoga is not like a sport that you can win. The point is to be more mindful, so we should always try to be happy with what we are able to do today. If we look at our neighbor and he is doing something differently, we shouldn’t think, “Oh, he’s doing it better. Why can’t I do that?” Instead we should try to realize that we are doing well and that everyone’s bodies are different.
II. The instructors led the class in a few of their favorite poses:
Downward dog & child’s pose (foundational resting poses)
Warrior 1 & triangle
Tree, cobra, happy baby (dead bug)
III. Ujjayi breathing – discuss, try the darth vader method (fogging a window with mouth closed). Practice breathing techniques by sitting cross-legged with hands resting on knees, palm up. With each inhale, slowly raise each of your five fingers, with each exhale, lower them. Switch hands. Do three whole Ujjayi breaths as a class.
IV. Ice breakers:
1) Name your favorite yoga pose (or invent one in honor of your favorite animal); This is nice because it reinforces an atmosphere where everyone should feel free to contribute to class.
2) Human tangle (Everyone stand in a close circle, close eyes, and stick hands out in the middle. Everyone grab someone else’s hand, open eyes, and untangle without letting go)
V. Corpse pose – 2 minutes of active meditation (They actually stayed mostly quiet!); end with Namaste.