YOGA FOR KIDS AND TEENS
In these three short interviews, ShantiGeneration yoga instructor, Abby Wills, talks about the benefits of yoga for young kids and teenagers and the different kinds of yoga experiences that are appropriate for various age groups. In other words, how would educators engage elementary school students in a yoga experience and what would that look like? How would educators engage high school students in a yoga experience, what would that experience look like and how would it differ from yoga with younger kids?
In this first interview, Abby Wills addresses some of the common misconceptions people may have about yoga in schools and shares stories about the kind of impact yoga has had on students with whom she has worked.
“For us as adults, sometimes we have to take yoga for many many years and practice a lot before we really start to learn how to transfer those skills into our relationships, into our home life. I find that kids just do that super naturally.”
In this second interview, Abby Wills talks specifically about yoga for young children and its ability to help kids learn how to move mindfully, pay attention to their movements, and understand the benefits of that.
“One of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen is young children sitting in a circle, learning to breath and feeling their heart beat; learning how to use their breath to slow down their heartbeat when they are feeling frustrated or just overly excited…We have kids who really just don’t know how to harness their attention, how to calm their bodies. Yoga teaches children how to do that in real time.”
In this third interview, Abby Wills talks specifically about yoga for teenagers and its ability to help young adults cope with the increasing pressures that they face in today’s society filled with constant access to information, high stakes testing, the general anxieties that are part of adolescence, and the physical changes that occur during puberty.
“There is so much pressure on teens these days. To have yoga, to learn how to cope with that stress and pressure is priceless. So, teens learn how to use their breathing, their body, their mindfulness to navigate the challenges in their lives and learn how to take negative stress, harness it, and turn it into power for their lives.”
Reflection Question: Let’s assume you are interested in incorporating yoga into your teaching practice. If you are already familiar with yoga poses and breathing exercises, what from your own knowledge and experience would you incorporate? If you have little to no experience practicing yoga, do a Google search to find a pose (or a series of poses), an established curriculum appropriate for the age group with which you work, or a video demonstrating a yoga experience in the classroom. Share your knowledge or the link in the comment section and tell us why you chose that particular exercise.
- Glynn, Amelia. Yoga in Schools: Pre-Quiz Stretches and Breathing. life.gaiam.com.
- BigHappyDay.com informational videos on yoga.
- Milwaukee Public Schools. Classroom Yoga (video).