Story and Photographs by Lilla Linkes
This is especially true for kids. They are full of life, love to move and are creative by nature, still, they are affected by the sedentary life that we are living today from lower elementary ages.
How can we protect our children from negative effects of multimedia?
Spending much of their free time in front of the computer or their game console, children do not use their imagination, do not move. They just sit with a stoop in another world…
Yoga, especially through stories, offers an excellent possibility to set them free and bring them nearer to nature, to their real self, to their roots, and an archetypal knowledge.
I am a speech therapist by profession, but I have studied other fields, as well. I’ve earned my degree in a collage for kindergarten teachers, I do Basic Therapy which is basically a movement therapy to assist children with delayed speech-language development or, had developmental speech-language disability related problems, such as dysgraphia and/or dyslexia. Sometimes I work with children issues through Family Constellation (on the basis of Bert Hellinger) and Systemic Pedagogy.
The training was very interesting, useful, it encouraged me in my career with children and teens.
When our trainer, Zsuzsanna Farkas mentioned that we can use stories, folk tales in yoga practice, next time I made a schedule with a sweet short tale of a Hungarian writer, Zsigmond Móricz, Teeny-Weeny. (Iciri-piciri, in Hungarian).
Then I started browsing on the internet searching information on this topic and it opened a new world for me. Among others, I’ve found Sydney and her Storytime Yoga ® method. I ordered her brilliant book (Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story) which is just like a course book for kids yoga teachers. (I’ve translated it into Hungarian, this version is waiting for a publisher now.)
My short answer is: everything!
Attention, social connections, physical exercise, real sense of achievement, rituals, they can relate to a bigger power, get closer to themselves.
At the moment, I have two kids yoga groups. One of them is a preschool group, with children ages 5-7 and the other is a mixed group with 5-12 years old kids. Both are functioning very well, children love to move, to listen to stories (whether Sydney’s, Hungarian or other nations’ folk tales or legends/myths behind asanas, for e.g. a story of Garuda, Hanuman, Anjana, Ganesha).
They happily form, create and organize live mandalas, just like this special birthday mandala with six candles for the girl in the middle.
Every child, even teens enjoy yoga with nursery rhymes and songs. Sometimes we use folk dance elements in the yoga class.
Those kids who practiced yoga last year with me, actually teach their younger fellows rhymes with movements!
I usually arrange asanas around a theme that builds a story, or for e.g. travelling, sea, zoo, a season, a holiday or a notable day just like Earth Day, Olympic Games, Halloween. My kids yoga examination video was about winter in December.
Kids enjoy very much the yoga sequences and practicing yoga in pairs, too. It is an excellent occasion to get to know another child who maybe not their closer friend, because in these asanas they have to choose a pair by height, not by sympathy.
Sometimes we have a chair-yoga day or a wall-yoga class. They love these, too.
Somebody familiar with my kids yoga practice told me, „They are so sweet! Are they active? I suppose you don’t let them rest, but of course this is yoga…”. „No, on the contrary, I not only let them rest, but I teach them how to relax. It’s very important. They are very active all day, they are overstimulated after all, so they have to learn to listen to their bodies and to learn relaxation methods.”, I answered.
Usually I use guided imaginations, stories or music and from preschool ages they can do centering meditations and relaxation, too.
And they are so enthusiastic that they even teach yoga for their parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers!
I’ve never thought that children will transfer yoga to their family so fast. Mothers sent me the very first short home-made videos after our second or third yoga classes.
My yoga groups represented Hungary for the 1st Kids Yoga Day in April and we checked in for next year, too.
Finally, I’d like to tell what kids yoga gave me.
Lots of love, peace and fun and it is for kids yoga that I’ve also became a yoga teacher for spinal therapy and for seniors.