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Certainly you’ve heard it said that yoga is a microcosm of life itself. As such, you will find that children bring their habits and patterns into class with them. Part of your job as a yoga instructor is to help your students identify their behaviors, so that they can become more aware of themselves as human beings.
I’ve written tips in the past about introducing yama, niyama, and other concepts to the children. Sometimes you can plan for that type of lesson plan, maybe revolve a class around the concept of nonviolence or self-study. Other times, these messages can be a lot more impromptu.
When a child exhibits behaviors that are inappropriate for yoga, it is a great opportunity to introduce some of the deeper aspects of the practice.
I’d say that the most common example you will likely encounter is ultracompetitive behaviors that either take the form of aggressively trying to outperform other students, or constantly comparing oneself to others. So, let me use that as an example.
I have one particular student who actually came into class exhibiting both of the above-mentioned behaviors. When she first joined the class, she spent a lot of time saying stuff like “that’s the easiest pose in the world!” (when it wasn’t an easy pose at all), or “I did that better than everyone else, didn’t I?”
This was a perfect opening to talk to the class about noncompetition. When a child exhibits this type of behavior, first of all, it is usually rooted in some type of deep-rooted insecurity. So the first thing I did was acknowledge her proficiency in the poses. She needed that validation.
From there, it becomes appropriate to add that everyone is good at yoga. Some find certain poses really easy and other poses really hard, and others will find just the opposite. But ultimately, it is our job as yogis and friends to support each other and help each other to succeed.
I’ll let you know the very cute ending to this story. After I talked to her (and the class) about noncompetitive behavior, she quickly added, “But Trish’s also really good! And Joanne is even better than I am at backbends!…” This went on for a while and the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but point being, kids get it. And hopefully they can take it away with them, too.
And that’s the mini yogis minute tip of the week. Check back every week to learn something new!
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