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Spirituality and yoga are inextricably linked in the ancient Vedic texts, but somewhere in this huge game of “telephone” that we call life, that connection seems to have been somewhat lost.
My question today is, how spiritual does a child’s yoga practice really have to be in order to maintain the sanctity of the practice?
I don’t think that anyone will tell you that my kids’ classes are the most spiritual classes on earth. But they are extremely spiritually nurturing.
What do I mean by that? I want to construct a class that is fun and engaging for the kids, but that also reminds them what it means to be conscious and conscientious beings.
I am constantly reminding the kids within the context of the class to be accepting of their process, to respect others and themselves, to be less reactionary. But rather than drilling this into their heads, it’s more about creating a practice where that is just the way it is. I don’t have to create a whole class around the concept of ahimsa (non-violence), but I can certainly bring the concept into class on a daily basis so that it becomes the very foundation of the practice. Abundant spirituality occurs when a child no longer has to think about ahimsa, but rather just lives it by default.
I always bookend each class with a two or three minute meditation to ground the students and get them in a space of calmness and openness. But in the meaty part of the practice…anything goes! We run and we play and we’re silly and weird and we joke… and we focus and we try hard and we are accepting and we are all friends and…no matter what we do or what role we are playing we are always present.
And I think that’s the key to bringing a child’s mind, body, and spirit together: I creating a space that is always safe for a kid to be his or herself, without any self-consciousness or apprehension.
It’s funny, with adults, I believe that we achieve the yoga, the yoke, of mind, body, and spirit, by removing external distraction and turning our focus inwards. With kids, I believe it’s just the opposite. Kids are the most in their element when they are allowed to be free and uninhibited. In many instances, the raucousness that might ensue in a particularly playful yoga class seems to the outside observer as chaos, but really, it’s just children being allowed to be children.
We all have so many rules and parameters that govern us each day. Maybe allowing kids to do their thing is exactly what they need to tap into their deepest essence, their spirits.
And that’s the mini yogis minute tip of the week. Check back every week to learn something new!
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