The Best Job in the World

On Tuesday afternoons, I teach yoga to 5-8 year old kids. Most of the kids are 5 and 6, and they knock the stuffing out of me every week. They have huge personalities, unlimited energy, freely expressed emotions, and opinions and ideas about EVERYTHING (also freely expressed).

They also knock my socks off every week. They are kind and hopeful and creative and HILARIOUS. They are strong and brave and honest and open.

Practicing yoga with kids this age is mostly about letting them figure out where their bodies are in space and how to be “in charge” of their own movements. Practicing mindfulness with them is about helping them learn tools for adjusting their energy level, understanding their inner landscape, and connecting productively with other people.

I always go into class with a plan, but one reason I keep my classes small is that I love to incorporate the kids’ ideas and leave plenty of time to run with whatever emerges from their interests and fascinations.

This particular group has been full of kids who are SO creative, SO confident, SO expressive, SO energetic that sometimes I feel dizzy trying to keep up with them. There have been moments when nine kids are literally talking to me at the same time, moments when several kids are crying as we try to work out turn-taking, moments when I’ve been interrupted so many times that I utterly lose track of what game we’re playing. Kids have gone on strike (turning their back and saying, “I hate yoga, anyway!”), and there have been moments that are so loud, you might think we were doing primal scream therapy, not yoga. One hypochondriacal day, every yoga pose we attempted led to an “injury,” and I spent the day doling out band aids and wet paper towels (9 ice packs would have been too expensive) as kids moaned on their mats.

But you have to let kids unfurl so they can figure out how to reel themselves in. You have to let communication get messy and loud so that it can get more accurate and skillful. You have to let people be themselves with 100% acceptance so they can love the people around them with 100% acceptance.

Today was our last class of the school year, and I was moved to tears several times. During class, the kids were able to be super, super silly, and then turn on a dime and calm themselves into a serene almost-silence. Friends listened to friends with kindness and humor. There was patient turn-taking.

And the kids put on a yoga play for their parents that they invented. They came up with most of the ideas and negotiated with me and each other as the story was created. They led and they followed. They thoughtfully incorporated a new kid into the play at the last minute. They exhibited confidence and self-control and friendship that made my heart burst. I can’t wait for these kids to take over the world.

Not doing much kid-teaching over the summer will give me a chance to recharge and develop some new curriculum, but as I hugged kids goodbye this afternoon, I meant it when I said that I have the best job in the world, and that I can’t wait to see them in September.

December Cozy Crew Classes – Registration is open!

Friendly Yoga Cozy Crew is a special, extra long class offered throughout the colder New England months that includes yoga and mindfulness activities, a variety of art projects, and a hot cocoa snack/storytime. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, it’s friendly, it’s cozy, and I hope your child will join us! snowman-headstand

Most Cozy Crew classes are for ages 7-10. If you have a child who is slightly older or younger who would like to attend, contact me (ellen@friendly-yoga.com), and we can see if it’s a good fit!

This December’s Cozy Crew classes:

Wednesday, December 7, 12:30-3:20

(This is a half day for the Groton-Dunstable kids)

Saturday, December 10, 10:30-1:30

You can register for one or both classes.

 

Registration is open for September/October 2016 classes!

Friendly Yoga for Ages 5-8 

Yoga is the perfect way for school-age kids to release extra energy and calm busy minds. In this positive, playful class, yogis will develop strength, flexibility, balance, and confidence. Each week includes music, games, and creative activities as well as simple breathing and meditation techniques.

Ages 5-8

Tuesdays 4:00-5:30

September 12-October 18

$90

Register here.

Friendly Yoga for Ages 7-10

Yoga is the perfect way for school-age kids to release extra energy and calm busy minds. In this positive, playful class, yogis will develop strength, flexibility, balance, and confidence. Each week includes music, games, and creative activities as well as simple breathing and meditation techniques.

Ages 7-10

Tuesdays 4:00-5:30

September 12-October 24 (no class Oct 3)

Register here.

Cozy Crew is back for April vacation week!

Join us for the final Cozy Crew class of the school year. 

We’ll spend 3 hours making art, telling stories, and doing playful yoga and mindfulness activities. Because of the length of the class, I’ve started the age range at 7, but if you have an almost-7 who has come to Friendly Yoga before and would like to give this class a try, contact me so that we can decide if it’s a good fit.

Tuesday 4/19
10:00am-1:00pm: First Parish Church, Groton MA
Ages 7-10
$35
Register here

Listening and allowing

The first day I met one of my yoga kids, she told me that she is part wild animal. Her friends, wide-eyed and earnest, corroborated, “Yes, it’s true, she really is!” I probably said something like, “Great, wild animals are cool! Let’s do some yoga!”

She’s an enthusiastic and cooperative participant for most of class, but this student never lays on her mat during savasana. While the other kids find some kind of comfy way to be prone and relaxed under dimmed lights, she is on all fours or squatting, or curled up, legs folded underneath her. She’s still for a minute or so, and then moves to a new position. She is quiet, and even moving, she is mostly calm, with a dash of vigilance in her beautiful brown eyes.

Not one of the other 11 kids in class ever says, “No fair! Why doesn’t she have to lay down?” I find this amazing.

We’ve been meeting for a few weeks now. Today, as the other kids rested on their mats, this particular girl did a slow series of bends and bows, similar to a sun salutation. Her face was calm but serious.

At the end of class, she came up to me and said, “Did you see the movements I was doing?

“In wild animal language, those were bows of respect. I was honoring you for being the teacher. I didn’t want you to think I wasn’t listening, because you were asking us to be still. But when I’m in my animal side, I CAN’T be still.”

“I know just what you mean,” I told her.

There are times when letting one kid “do her thing” can devolve into chaos and make it very hard to teach (or is it just control?) an entire group. There are contexts in which I might need to tell this child that her “human child” side needs to come to class, no wild animals allowed in the room.

But when it’s possible to avoid forcing conformity on child, when I can allow them to express something that seems so important to them, it always feels like a victory to me.