Yoga class has arrived at Baker for Grades K-4. Baker Kindergarten through fourth graders take one half-hour yoga class per week as part of their PE curriculum. I teach grades K-Third grade yoga, and Ms. Peterson teaches fourth grade yoga classes in our yoga studio.
Class begins with “centering”. We greet each other with “Namaste” a greeting honoring the goodness in each of us. We proceed to stretch our muscles and quiet our minds as we practice yoga together. Becoming aware of our breathing and how it affects our state of mind is powerful and it sets the direction of the rest of our practice.
At Baker, we recognize that children learn through their minds, bodies, voices and their imaginations. The YogaKids program, first developed by Marsha Wenig, influences yoga at Baker. Wenig realized that a child’s yoga experience succeeded when it was responsive to the developmental needs of her students. Similar to adult yoga, children deserve the beauty and power that comes with authentic yoga postures or “asana”. Yet, Wenig realized she had to be “in the moment” with her students and responsive to their needs, questions and learning styles. YogaKids’ holistic approach to yoga teaches classic yoga postures along with songs, stories and music to “connect the dots” for students and to make yoga more engaging for the young learner. Learning the poses happens naturally when yoga class flows from centering to introduction of new postures to engaging the students in stories, games and songs that allow longer sequences of postures also known as a “flow sequence”, finally ending in suvasana, also known as “corpse” or “resting pose”.
Imagine a seven year old being instructed in the finer points of chaturanga dandasana (also known as plank or push up pose). Then imagine your child becoming a lizard (in plank pose) complete with a lizard tongue as part of a jungle yoga class. We take our yoga very seriously at Baker, and in doing so we foster imaginative play, laughter, curiosity and joy. We embrace story, creative movement and music to make yoga an enjoyable, physically and intellectually demanding half-hour.
When I started yoga classes many years ago, I was “sold” as soon as I practiced suvasana [shuh-VAH-sah-nah]. Suvasana is a very important final pose in yoga, and kids love it. The students lie down on their yoga mat with their hands by their sides as they are taken through a guided relaxation sequence. The children calm and center themselves using their breath and their imaginations while music plays in the background. Students have already asked to lengthen the suvasana section of our sessions . They have shared that it feels good to learn tools to calm and focus themselves, release tension and imagine the stories and adventures within suvasana. After suvasana, the children arise refreshed.
“I would pay $20 to do that every day!” said one enthusiastic Baker yogi.
Yoga kids has a wonderful book for parents that illustrates the postures we use in class and gives tips and guidance for how to practice yoga with your child. I recommendYogaKids: Educating the Whole Child Through Yoga. http://yogakids.com/shop/book/yogakids-educating-the-whole-child-through-yoga/
I’ll list more resources for parents as I test out new materials.