Radiant Child Yoga Teacher Training
Patricia Creola, RCY Training done in Zurich/Switzerland in June 2013
I am currently based in South India where I teach yoga and meditation to children at a charity nursery and school. At the moment the group consists of up to 30 children aged 4. Next year we plan to take also children for 1st and 2nd grade and teach them the national curriculum.
As I am doing the class in basic English, I actually just say the names of the asana, mostly animals or some asana names I adjusted so that it is understandable for those Indian kids, eg. the clothes dryer I am calling motor or ride a bumpy camel I call sitting cat stretch as here they don’t know camels.
These kids are only 4 years old, so I try to include a lot of movement, a game, a song so that we all have fun 🙂 And once a week I also add an arts activity at the end of the yoga session. For this sequence I did choose the activity from the book “yoga in motion” and we did all paint a beautiful and colourful butterfly. As they are very young I didn’t use liquid water colour but did draw a simple butterfly with a pencil on a paper and handed it to the kids who then filled the butterfly with their colour pens. (A picture of it if attached in the email) 🙂
The two teachers are my assistants who sit in the back and help me when I need them to say something in Tamil which is mainly before meditation to make them aware to close their eyes and not talk, sit straight and still.
I teach the class daily and change the sequence weekly to give them a bit of routine and repetition.
As I am in Tamil Nadu and all these children are Hindus, I don’t use the Ong Namo to tune in but we sing OM
For my first class they welcomed me loudly and also the Om singing was very loud and forced and only after the third day they learned to sing more peacefully, with their eyes closed and in tune with themselves. I was actually impressed how quick they understood this.
The balloon breath is really a great tool to a) do a basic pranayama and b) to calm them down. They love it and I add it at the beginning and end.
They do love the story about going to the forest and seeing all the animals. And even though at the beginning they were a bit reluctant in joining in, they now know what to do when I call out the name of the animal, some even remember the sequence in which the animals follow after 3 days of the same session. I do let them make the sound of some of the animals and let them carry out the asanas in a playful way. They also started to take over when whe do the train; they would say “slower” and then “faster” and so we would go moving slowly and then moving faster (same with the bycicle). I like that at the beginning it was one boy who started it and now even the girls join in and call out “slower” and “faster”. I love to observe them and to see that even the very shy girl who for almost one week did not move and only looked at me with big open eyes, is now enjoying the yoga. I am happy I gave her the time and didn’t force her. I felt that she just needed to figure out what we are all doing. She is a very awake and observant girl and now she feels confident enough to join in.
In general I am very surprised how well they follow and how quiet they are. They only disturb the class sometimes during meditation but then I open my eyes and give them the sign to be quiet by putting my finger on my lips. Usually this works. And there are only about 5 kids of the 30 who are a bit disturbing. Many sit still but wouldn’t close their eyes and then there are a few who really go deep during meditation. When I bring them slowly back to balloon breath, I can observe how they get out of a deep relaxation/meditation. It makes me happy that they enjoy yoga and see it as fun and still it is doing something more subtle to them which I somehow can already feel. The teachers are also enjoying it and said they now start every morning at 9am with a short meditation. My yoga class is only at 10:30 after they had a short break. This is good to have the full support of the teachers and when I was sick for two days they kids asked about me and yoga.
When we do the clothes dryer and also the train I observe how some children have problems with the coordination of their arms and hands which is absolutely normal at that age. Little children here in India might be less developed in motoric skills than children in the West. This I think is due to their completely different lifestyles. Also they do not have toys to play or create things and rarely do they have pens to make drawings.
By repeting the same asanas for one week and then including some of them into the new sequence, helps them to “master” them and when a few children were not able to do the clothes dryer first, they can do it now with ease.
Yoga is 13 minutes; Shavasana is 2 minutes; Song and/or Game is 4 minutes; Meditation is 2 minutes
CLASS PLAN – a journey through the forest
- all children are sitting in easy pose their hands folded in front of their chest.
- we tune in with a continious singing of OM (1 minute)
- we do 5 balloon breaths (inhale through nose, arms up and exhale through mouth, arms down)
- sitting cat stretch (riding a camel) (we are waking up and stretch our body like a cat)
- washing machine (then we wash our clothes)
- motor (clothes dryer) (we first have to take a car to go to the train station)
- train (then we jump on the train which starts slowly and gets faster. This is the start of our beautiful journey)
- dog (we look out of the window of the train and see a dog stretching)
- walking bear (later on we can see a bear walking in the forest)
- monkey (and then there are many monkeys jumping around)
- elephant (an elephant we also see with a big family of 10 more elephants)
- lion (further into the journey we observe a big group of lions roaring)
- frog (and also some little frogs jumping around)
- cobra (the cobra is not far away and gliding softly through the grass)
- walking crow (next animal we see are crows walking around)
- walking crab (and also crabs walking around)
- jumping Jack (then we get off the train and we jump. This is to bring them up standing again and let them get active
- Here I include a Game to let them run around but still control their movements: rain drops (it starts raining in the forest, first slowly and then faster and stronger rain and then slowly again until it stops raining)
- going up the hill and down the hill (then we have to go up the hill and at the other side down)
- cycle (we take a bycicle to get home. When we get home we are very happy but also very tired)
- Savasana (2 minutes) (so we go to bed and have a deep sleep)
- Shakta’s Fly Like A Butterfly song with moving the legs like a butterfly (2 minutes)
- we do 5 balloon breaths to calm and and relax
- we sit in easy pose, hands on knees, eyes closed and meditate (2 minutes)
- we close with another 5 balloon breaths
- then we sing continuous OM (1 minute)
*see www.childrensyoga.com for the materials used, as well as upcoming trainings.