10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Kids Yoga Teacher

There are so many preconceived notions about teaching kids yoga. Teachers tell me they’re afraid the kids won’t be quiet, or won’t listen, they’ll be disruptive or even get hurt. Many yoga studios won’t even allow a child to practice until they’re a teen! Yet, kids will astound you with their openness and willingness to try. They crave all that a yoga practice has to offer. Teaching them is just all in your approach.

1. Allow Yourself to be Vulnerable

Kids can spot a fake person a mile away. Know your audience well and speak to them like you would any other adult yogi in your class. In fact, kids are often more open to practicing yoga. Free space on their mat that’s void of perfection, judgment and punishments. If you’re not fully present and ready to be there for your yogis, the class will revolt and chaos will ensue. Take a few moments before class to leave your ego at the door and get ready to have fun.

2. Plan ahead and be consistent…Without it you’re just herding cats

Each class, set a predictable beginning, middle and end for yogis to know what to expect. Teach the same sun salutation each time. Play with pacing, flow and breath for variety.  Remember to leave space for your yogis to enjoy their time on their mat. Invite your students to lead a round or two. Soon each yogi will be wanting to teach!

Which leads me to…

3. Be open to ditching your sequence

Even though you have spent hours practicing and preparing for your class, your students may not be in the mood for exactly what you have prepared. consider your approach when teaching during or after school or classes during testing time periods and holidays. Instead of forcing your agenda, lean into how you can switch it up for what your yogis will respond to. Remember, class isn’t about you…it’s about them!

4. Let’s be Honest…Kids are Little Petri Dishes

You will encounter runny noses, hacking open mouth coughs and maybe even projectile vomiting. Whatever comes your way, avoid drawing too much attention to the situation. Accident will happen. Stock up on disinfectant wipes, paper towels and tons of hand sanitizer! Quickly assist in any cleanup and keep the class moving.  If a yogi has an accident on their mat, have the rest of the class practice sun salutations while you comfort and clean up.

5. Incorporate your senses

Sometimes yogis can be sensitive about being barefoot, especially tweens and teens. Being barefoot after walking around all day can lead to a smelly situation. When students first come into class, offer essential oils in rollerballs. My favorite rollerballs are uniquely blended to match with kids’ development in mind. Consider creating a chakra class and incorporate each oil along the way!

6. Mix in imagination…

Yoga conjures up creativity, so set some class time aside for creative expressions. Bring along colorful scarves, tiny stuffed animals and tons of crafts, crayons and paper. Kids love to color or draw on their experiences in class. After a guided meditation, offer up some art time. Ask lots of open-ended questions about their creations. Some of the best conversations will arise!

7. Your car is now your mobile yoga studio…

Most of your kids’ classes won’t be in a yoga studio. Teaching during or after school programs, special workshops or private clients, your car becomes your studio. Instead of trying to reuse the same cardboard boxes your supplies came in, purchase heavy duty storage containers that are easily transportable. Plastic containers with snap lids work great for craft supplies.

Going in and out of schools with yoga mats, singing bowls, props and yoga craft supplies is not an easy task! Consider investing in a small foldable hand truck…it’s been a life (and back) saver!

Kids learn by the behavior we model, not by what we say.

8. Ask open-ended questions

When a yogi is struggling to control themselves, remember that it’s ok! Yoga is just what they need. Kids will look for attention good, bad or ugly and often can’t comprehend how to change course. Many times, their disruptive behavior is actually misplaced energy. Instead of assuming you know what’s wrong, ask open-ended questions. Give them space to showcase their strengths. Invite them to lead a round of sun salutations or be your assistant with partner poses.

9. In a family yoga class, grown-ups are the misbehavers

During a family yoga class, grown-ups often insert themselves in their lil yogi’s practice. They will correct their alignment or micromanage their behavior. Remind grown-ups to enjoy their practice on their own mat. Kids learn by the behavior we model, not by what we say. Tell parents before class that this is for them just as much as it is for their lil’ yogi. Explain that showing kids how to practice will make a greater positive impact on them. Your job is to teach and assist everyone in making shapes and moving. Their job is to have fun!

10. Carve out at least 10-15 minutes each class for savasana

Before teaching kids yoga, I thought savasana would be the most difficult part of a kids yoga class. But I was so wrong…savasana is their favorite time. With the hustle and bustle of life off their mats, kids soak up this silent stillness. Allow ample time to get rid of their wiggles and giggles and let them rest. A guided meditation or visualization can assist settling into relaxation.

Yoga is just as important to learn as any subject studied in school. Kids learn applicable coping skills to handle all life has to throw at them. Whether balancing on one leg or standing tall in tadasana, yoga provides a safe place where there’s no right or wrong; just possibility. So, if you practice yoga or you teach yoga, it’s your duty to share the benefits with our youth to support them through all their challenges and successes.

Adrienne started practicing yoga when she was working in the corporate world. She traveled constantly and always looked for ways to keep healthy and active while on the road. After completing her RYT-200 Power Yoga Teacher Training she was hooked! She completed her RCYT-95 as well as her RYT-500 Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. A mother of two girls, Adrienne has dedicated her time to deepening her practice and connecting with her students (especially families & kids!) on ways to allow their yoga experience to ripple into all aspects of their lives. Throughout Adrienne’s trainings, her passion has led her to co-found FamilyFlow Yoga®️. FamilyFlow Yoga®️is one of four accredited schools in Illinois to offer a 95 Hour Registered Yoga Alliance Children’s Yoga Teacher Training program. Adrienne teaches in yoga studios, fitness clubs, boutique studios, as well as in school and after school yoga programs. FamilyFlow Yoga®️ has become an expert in offering continuing education programs and workshop for yoga instructors as well as schools’ staff and administrations. She's committed to helping people reach their full potential both physically, mentally and emotionally.

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