Picture the scene. A kids yoga class. My daughter, Molly, is squealing around the room, rolling herself up in her mat and leaping in and out of her version of downward dog, but as a whole, generally not doing very much yoga at all. Ten minutes later, her teddy is out, her thumb is in and she has collapsed into a small sweaty pile on her yoga mat. Exhausted.
It is messy. It is noisy. There is jumping, laughing, robot walking. It is as far from the serenity you might expect to experience from a regular yoga class, where we tut inwardly every time someone arrives late and disrupts our ‘zen,’ or mentally clear our throat when someone OMS badly out of tune. Yes, welcome instead to the world of teaching kids yoga. A world that has thrown any expectations I had at maintaining control out of the window. And I’m not even teaching the class!
“Why should we dampen their spirits?” says Greville Henwood, GroovyKids Yoga Instructor, who is leading our teacher training. “As long as they are safe and not hurting themselves or one another, then it is perfectly acceptable for them to express themselves. Try to control this and you’re fighting a losing battle!” Indeed, the only one having a problem and feeling embarrassed over the fact Molly was not following the class in an orderly fashion like some of the other children, was myself.
It got me thinking of how, as adults, we have become so obsessed with the need to make things perfect, whether in our yoga practice or off the mat in real life. We beat ourselves up over not being able to hold a headstand, or not being as bendy as our neighbour. We lament over not having the time to practice and hone our physical skills. We scour the internet for fabulous images of ‘perfect’ yogis, only to leave ourselves feeling jealous, inadequate and downright dejected. We pit our parenting skills against those who seem to have a model child who sleeps at the correct times and always eats their greens.
Yes, we could learn a lot from being a fly on the wall in a kids yoga class. While their arms might not be straight in downward dog, their warriors far from sculpted and their tree poses more like the abstract shapes that a tree actually should be, they are fully present with what they are doing. They are not caught up in the egos we have worked hard to groom as adults that tell us we are not good enough, strong enough or flexible enough. Kids are just there – embracing the movement, learning new skills and fully enjoying the moment.
Yes, we could learn a lot from stopping to embrace our inner child from time to time. Throwing caution to the wind a little more. Not worrying so much about how we look and how we think we should act. Not being afraid or embarrassed to fall over and get right back up. Not constantly checking our iPhones to see if our virtual following approves of what we are doing. Seeing the beauty, wonder and laughter in the little things instead of just the biggest, brightest and best. Being present in the moment without storming ahead searching for the next fix. Why not try it sometime and see how it feels?
“There are not seven wonders in the world through the eyes of a child. There are seven million.”
– Walt Streightiff
With thanks to instructor and trainer, Greville Henwood from Groovy Kids Yoga and his assistant, Groovy Kids Dubai teacher, Danielle Tierney Heron, and Yogalates Bliss for hosting an inspiring teacher training!
Photo credits: Yogalates Bliss / The Peace Lily