What Kids REALLY want in a Yoga Teacher

Before becoming a yoga instructor, I used to take my daughters to any kids yoga class I could find within a 50 mile radius of my house. On the way home, they would share their “pits and peaks” (favorite and least favorite part) of class. Their answers were sometimes insightful, heartwarming and many times downright hilarious. This had me wondering…has anyone asked kids what they think makes an exceptional Kids Yoga Teacher?

Are the skills and qualifications we think are important to teach kids also important to kids?

Recently, I conducted an informal poll with some of my elementary/middle school-aged yogis and asked, “What are the top qualities you look for in a kids yoga teacher?”. Their answers had nothing to do with certifications, knowledge or experience. In fact, according to kids, we don’t need a stacked resume to be a fantastic teacher.

1. “Challenge me. I can do a lot.” Kyler, 10 years old

Kids are far more fearless than fearful on their yoga mat. They can fold, flip, bend, twist, bind, invert and much more without thinking too much. So, challenge them with advanced asanas like Bakasana (Crow) pose or Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel) pose. Challenge postures allow practice for progression not perfection.

2. “Teach us the real name of the pose”  Laney, 10 years old

When teaching babies, toddlers and preschoolers, creating silly names for each yoga asana is fun. It encourages students to utilize visualization techniques to commit physical movement to memory. My first year teaching kids yoga, I called Ardha Uttanasana (Half-way Lift) Pose as #7 Pose since the shape is similar to the number. My students easily understood where to go with the visual link. However, as a child progresses in their practice, they want to learn the pose name so to avoid confusion and frustration later on their mat.

3. “Be fun…but not cheesy…and please don’t talk in a weird sing-songy voice. JUST BE YOURSELF!” Campbell, 13 years old

You don’t have to talk to kids like they’re beneath you. Instead of speaking at them, speak to them. Phoniness is glaringly obvious to kids. Instead share of yourself and be a part of their experience.

4. “Let us work in small groups and do partner poses!” Grace, 10 years old

Plan each class into sections and follow the same format each week. Your class blueprint then provides a certain comfort level to answer “what’s up next?”. Partner poses and small group activities are great to place right after some hard work but before surrender. Moving off their mat, connecting and cooperating with others gives kids a chance to readjust and reset.

5. “Don’t be strict or mean and make up tons of rules.” Hannah, 10 years old

Kids crave boundaries that respect all parties involved and they can see right through rules that are “made up” for no reason other than to impose control. Create a space that doesn’t require controlling outcomes, but facilitates positive forward momemtum. Collaboration builds confidence from a platform of strengthening our strengths, self-empowerment and improvement with a proactive mindset on the greater good.

6. “Celebrate our failures and help us get thru them.” Mallory, 10 years old

This is a biggie! Whether at home, school or work, failures aren’t normally celebrated. Schools reward and encourage success, but where can we practice failing without the bitter taste of negativity left behind? Tell your students to fail fabulously and often! Avoid judgments and corrections. Give space for mistakes and be open, willing and able to offer up other possibilities to explore.

“Yoga has changed so much for me, even just changing my breathing pattern. It all makes me happy and even the first second I did yoga, I knew I would love it. Since I have a pretty stressful life, yoga has made it easier; from learning crow pose to even just laying and getting our heads rubbed…Yoga has brough so much peace and fun into my life and made me a much calmer person” – Daniela, 6th Grade

7. “Give us some quiet space in savasana.” Ivy, 10 years old

Just like many adults, kids love guided meditations and imagery. Students with over-active minds that are challenging to quiet, enjoy listening to meditations to settle the mental chatter and melt into their mat space. In our kids classes, we leave 10-15 minutes at the end of each class is for savasana.

And finally…my personal favorite #8… “Mom, never ever make funny animal noises in poses with kids over 8. It’s super embarrassing.”

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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