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5 Children's Yoga Tips from a Certified Elementary School Teacher

Janet Williams Certified Primary/Junior Teacher & Registered Yoga Instructor
Janet Williams Certified Primary/Junior Teacher & Registered Yoga Instructor

I had the honour of being interviewed by Aruna Kathy Humphrys of Young Yoga Masters. She was curious about how I, Janet Williams, as a certified Primary/Junior Teacher and Registered Yoga Instructor, recommend that yoga be used in the classroom. These 5 Tips give you the Who, What, When, Where and Why of Kid’s Yoga. I am proud to share that I am a co-founder of the Young Yoga Masters Registered 95 hour Children’s Yoga School and on the faculty, and share more great tools for yoga in classrooms, studios, and beyond in the What I See, I Can Be Certificate Module and the My Amazing Body Certificate Module.

Learn more: http://www.childrensyogabooks.com/training.php

Question 1: Why Do Yoga with Kids?

Young Yoga Masters: Janet, you’ve been a school teacher and a yoga instructor for almost 20 years so you know what’s up with yoga in the classroom. What is your experience of the benefit of bringing yoga into the classroom? Give us one of your favorite stories of how children change after doing yoga.

Kids find peace doing yogaJanet: One of my favorite stories is one I received in an e-mail – unsolicited. Here’s what the teacher wrote me:

As an experienced Supply Teacher, I know that it can be a challenge to get children to listen during Physical Education because of the less structured format and the high excitement level. The first class that I tried “What I See, I Can Be” with, were a notorious Grade 2/3 split. They were known as a difficult class to control and all morning they acted up. When we got to Gym Class, I put on the CD and had the children follow along with the yoga book. The results were amazing! To my delight, the yoga book and CD captured their interest and attention. The children who had been uncooperative all morning settled down and remained settled down for the rest of the day.

This letter from this teacher came right after I published my book, and confirmed my mission to bring yoga to children. She so clearly describes the benefits of bringing yoga into the classroom, to settle kids down and bring them health at the same time.

Question 2: Who Can Teach Kid's Yoga?

Young Yoga Masters: Can anyone bring yoga into the classroom? A lot of people think you need to be “really into yoga.” Do you?

Janet: No, not at all. You don’t have to be really into yoga or a yoga teacher to bring yoga to children, although it can help in providing confidence in teaching. With the right resources and training, you can learn a number of routines that pretty much all kids love, routines that motivate children to do yoga. I’ve had many people, like one Phys Ed Consultant at a School Board, who didn’t know about yoga but was sold after just one yoga class, after seeing how much the kids loved it. Teachers can pick up a few good routines and start with those in the classroom.

Question 3: When to do Yoga with Children?

Young Yoga Masters: Teachers are already overloaded! What can teachers do to get kids doing yoga when they already have so much curriculum to cover?

Janet: It’s true, teachers are overloaded. There’s not enough time in the day to do all the things they are expected to do. So I suggest what I call the “2 for 1.” Any time a teacher can teach two things at once, it is a good thing.
In the “What I See, I Can Be” Vol 2 Teacher Training Manual I have provided ways to incorporate 2 for 1 activities. So for example, in Math, when the kids are learning angles, one child measures the angles of another child’s arms using a protractor. The child holding the position should be encouraged to breathe deep yoga breaths and relax their shoulders, as their arms are being measured. It is a great physical, hands on, healthy 2 for 1. I also think it helps kids better remember the lesson.

Children's Yoga Teacher Training
What I See, I Can Be Manuals Vol 1 & 2

Question 4: Where to hold a Yoga Class at School

What I See I Can Be - BOokYoung Yoga Masters: How can a teacher find space for yoga at school?

Janet: Being able to do yoga in the classroom means choosing the right yoga poses. I chose the poses in the “What I See, I Can Be” book, so that they could be done beside a desk. Of course, when you have a gym or playground you have fewer restrictions, but when I developed the yoga flow in my book, I made sure all the poses could be done anywhere.

For example, in the worst case scenario, when the desks can’t be moved and there is no carpeted area, we just go ahead and do yoga right beside the desk. Even a pose like the final relaxation, we do on the floor beside the desk. Kids usually don’t care about it - they are all over the playground anyway. But if the floor is really unsuitable, I have the children just lay their heads on their desks. All 13 yoga poses in my book were very purposefully chosen for classrooms, so kids could do all the yoga poses beside their desks.

Question 5: What Gets Kids Motivated to do Yoga?

Young Yoga Masters:  What is the best way to get kids who are new to yoga to give it a try?

Janet: If I’m going into a new class I make sure I go in with visual aids.  As all good teachers know, you want children to HEAR the instructions and SEE the instructions.  This helps all the different types of learners. I bring in my What I See, I Can Be Book and the What I See, I Can Be Poster  to every class, so the children can see and do.

Over the weeks I incorporate other props to engage their imagination. By engaging their imagination, this helps them hold each yoga pose for a bit longer.  Plus I am fully engaged as a teacher, by walking around the room and providing positive feedback to boost their self-confidence and self-esteem.  Yoga is a time to empower children.  Of course I make corrections when the children could potentially hurt themselves, but I encourage the effort that they put in, rather than criticizing them for not being perfect.

One Bonus Tip

Young Yoga Masters:  Do you have one final tip for a new teacher who wants to bring yoga to kids.

Janet: Kids get bored of stuff very quickly, so as a Kid’s Yoga Teacher you need to have a very large treasure chest of visual aids and props.  Having a lot of training and resources means you have back-up ideas when something isn’t working.

I’ve thought up many ideas on my own, but it is also really nice to just get ideas that work by taking Kids Yoga Teacher Training.  That’s what I give to teachers in our 95 Hour Kids Yoga Teacher Training that is a Registered Children’s Yoga School (RCYS) and recognized by Yoga Alliance, so teachers don’t have to come up with everything on their own. That can be exhausting, plus you don’t know if it will work until you try it. So it helps to have experienced mentors to guide you when you’re filling your treasure chest.

Young Yoga Masters: Thank you Janet for these wonderful tips for bringing yoga to children.

The Teacher Value Pack - lots of helpful resourcesThe Teacher Value Pack - lots of helpful resources

Join Janet in the “What I See, I Can Be” Certificate Module of the Kids Yoga Teacher Training in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Learn More:  http://www.childrensyogabooks.com/training-what-i-see-i-can-be.php  This Module includes over $200 in resources for you to take home.  Young Yoga Masters recommends this Training Module for those looking for new resources for their kids’ yoga classes.  You’ll also get tons of ideas for bringing yoga into the classroom.

All these resources, including the Teacher Training Manuals Volume 1 and Volume 2 are included in the What I See, I Can Be – Kids Yoga Teacher Training Module.

More information is available on the Home Page of:    http://www.childrensyogabooks.com/training-what-i-see-i-can-be.php

Become a Kids Yoga Teacher and get certified.  Details of the 95 hour Kids Yoga Teacher Training Certification are available at http://www.childrensyogabooks.com/training.php

Janet WilliamsBio:

Janet Williams, B.Ed, RCYT is a certified Primary/Junior Teacher, Yoga Instructor and Author of the Award-winning book “What I See, I Can Be: A Guided Yoga Flow for Children”. Concerned about the childhood obesity issue and high anxiety kids face, Janet created easy to use Kids Yoga Resources so that Parents and Teachers could get their children active and fit – and calm and relaxed. Janet offers a “95 Hour Kids Yoga Teacher Training Certification” that is recognized by Yoga Alliance and is excellent for parents, teachers, daycare providers, youth leaders and health care professionals. To learn more: www.ChildrensYogaBooks.com

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