Young kids, in particular, are much closer to their spiritual “womb” or inner-self because of their all-embracing perspective.

Generation Yogi

10:09:AM 10/11/2010
Lisa Mitchell

Annalise and Mei walked into the community-centre class, two wriggly, giggly pubescent girls. I smiled weakly and sighed. I sighed because I was tired and community-centre classes are often demanding; they’re cheap and attract truckloads of lovely people whose needs are vast and wide.

Acute back problems, specific injuries, chronic conditions, inflamed emotions, exhausted mums, self-conscious, concretised men, the vital and enthused, the depressed and disillusioned – and on this tired night, I knew I couldn’t span the chasm.

“What is it you’d like out of this class?” I asked the girls, who were there for the first time.

“Fun,” they said.

I explained to them, and their poor, frazzled, overworked mother, that while they were welcome to attend, they’d enjoy a richer experience at a yoga class tailored to the Yogi Generation. Mum was offended (overtired). How dare I presume her children were lacking the intelligence to grasp the spiritual concepts of an adult class.

Sigh. It’s not about intelligence. Yoga for kids and teens is different to yoga for adults. In fact, young kids, in particular, are much closer to their spiritual “womb” or inner-self because of their all-embracing perspective. We life-worn adults are the ones with steely bars of unhelpful attitudes and beliefs blocking our way.

Age-appropriate – and developmentally appropriate – yoga can be delivered as the magic it is because children have the imagination and openness to explore yoga’s spirituality. Why shoehorn a young person’s radically different state of mind and emotional and physical being into an older class when passionate teachers are tailoring yogic adventures for four- to seven-year-olds, eight- to 11-year-olds, 12-15-year-olds and higher teens?

Some people question whether kids need yoga at all. What have they got to be knotted-up about? Ask any primary-school cherub and the answer could be “plenty”: missing time with parents or divorce; cyberbullying; sick loved ones; sibling rivalry; friendships turned sour; plain old not coping (already).

Here are a few reasons to seek out an age-appropriate class for your beautiful blossoms.

Storm breaker

At a time when teens most need reassurance and support, a yoga teacher makes a terrific storm breaker. He or she can be a non-threatening, significant source of perspective for beleaguered or confused teens who are trying to work out their place in life. No matter how good the parenting, it helps to have an independent adult (who isn’t emotionally invested) whose soul job (awful pun, but intended) is to recognise, nurture and uplift their individuality.

Competing for gold

Healthy competition is gold for establishing essential qualities such as motivation, focus and discipline but ruthless on self-esteemless others who compare themselves endlessly, and fall short despairingly, of their role models. Yoga’s consciously created, non-competitive space teaches kids that they are winners as they are: “You are unique for a reason; no one can ever be a better ‘you’; and only you can do what you have come to do in this life.” Yoga encourages kids to accept everything they are, the positive and the negative.

Quasimodos in the making

Kids’ rapidly evolving bodies are strapped into heavy school bags and plonked on seats far too many hours a day, compressing delicate spines and ceasing muscular activity (and therefore vital internal processes). At home, it’s more of the same at the PC or TV. Osteopaths, chiropractors and Bowen therapists must rub their hands in glee at the security of this income stream. I’m often astounded at how much kids lack in reasonable flexibility and strength.

Wise l’il souls

Imagine if someone had told you at an early age that your potential was infinite, that you had all the resources within you to cope with anything life threw your way, and then showed you how to tap those resources. Yoga teaches self-awareness, self-responsibility (for life and your actions and reactions to it) and how to draw upon intuition and deeper layers of wisdom by connecting to the inner self. That’s one “imaginary” friend you want by your side.

Shhhhh, can you hear it?

Kids rarely hear the sound of silence. One of life’s speedier lessons is that you’re “weird” if you enjoy time alone. And too many children’s extracurricular activities rival the diaries of blue-chip executives, creating a generation of burnt-outs before they’ve had time to bloom. Little yogis learn the value of quiet, reflective time through relaxation and visualisation.

Let’s nurture a contemplative, clear-thinking generation.

MINI RESOURCES

Keep your eyes peeled for flyers.

Google “children’s yoga Melbourne”.

Search www.yogabugs.com.au or

www.findyoga.com.au or

www.yogateachers.asn.au

to find a kids’ class near you.

Check out this excellent boxed set of cards for under eights (“Creative Yoga Games for Kids”) as well as a guided relaxation CD for teenagers at www.overthemoonstudio.com/index.html

Visit www.meditationcapsules.com for a sensational book and CD on mini meditations.

Lisa Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor, who specialises in holistic well-being.

Join blog chat on this article at http://lisa-mitch.blogspot.com/


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