Diverse Components of Kids’ Yoga
No matter how much I may prepare for a kids’ yoga session, I always end up improvising. Never do I stick to routines. Rather, customized to the participants. Toddlers versus pre-adolescents. Or, high energy youngsters pumped up on sugary cereals versus little yoginis.
Plus, my kids’ yoga classes aren’t always in a perfect yoga studio setting. Parks. Festivals. Even a two-room schoolhouse in rural Costa Rica. There may not be sufficient (or any) mats. Yoga in the rain (and mud), yoga on the beach, yoga in the sweltering sun, or humidity. Allowing Mother Nature to take the lead. Then, it could be yoga on uneven damp, or rocky surfaces, or hard cold (and dangerous) marble or tile. These kids don’t sport yoga gear. Rather, they can be decked out in fancy dresses or skin-tight jeans.
With all those variables, there’s one thing I can count on. Letting kids yoga be fun through sound. No blasting R&B like during a Vinyasa class, or singing along to Beatles or Mot
own greats in a Gentle Yoga session. Not your formal repetition of three Oms to start the class. But, incorporating playful rhythms, beats, vibrations, and vocalizations into the kids’ yoga time. Connecting to, or creating, sound in the body, mind, and soul.
It’s natural for youngsters to play with rhythms, sound, and movement.
Patty-cake, Patty-cake or Red Light, Green Light
The music room of one’s imagination is endless. In my recent kids’ classes, we experimented with beats and percussion instruments. Clapped hands, snapped fingers. Stomped feet and pounded the floor. Felt the music inside our bodies, by humming, buzzing, and roaring. We explored sound levels, alternating between silent, whispers and belting out the words. Then, we sang simple mantras in rounds, or in groups, one side loud, one side quiet. As if on automatic replay, we chanted a mantra while we moved through asanas (postures).
Banging drums, chanting in any language, and moving to the rhythms all can help you get a deeper connection in your yoga. And, have a blast while doing it
Wow! I feel good, I knew that I would now
David Newman, aka Durga Das, is a Kirtan artist, leader, and author. At this year’s Bhakti Fest retreat in Chicago, he said it bothers him when people ask what a chant means. “What matters is what you feel,” he said.
“Why does it feel so good to chant? Can you be totally here, but not here at the same time? The mind always wants an explanation,” he added.
Newman explained that Kirtan, in its mantra form, is not a symbolic language. “Apple is a symbol, he says. You can see it, feel it and taste it. Kirtan is non-symbolic. When I started chanting, I traveled with a Kirtan great. He said ‘the name of God is God.’ There’s no distinction with the word and that which it’s describing. Kirtan is an ancient form of sound healing.”
Newman, who has recorded 11 Kirtan albums, found a lot of peace through yoga and Kirtan. So much, that he turned his back on a law career to begin a more enlightened, peaceful path, and open a yoga studio.
“I made the choice long ago to grow through joy, and Kirtan has been a great assistance for that endeavor.”
About 20 years ago, in a dream state, he saw Neem Karoli Baba. In his vision, the guru said, ‘bolo, bolo, (sing, sing).’ As a result, when he woke up, he said, ‘I’m going to do that. I’m going to sing.’”Swami Satchidananda founder of the Integral Yoga lineage spent decades giving lectures across the U.S., and the world. One of his frequent closings was a group chanting of “Om, Shanti, Shanti, Om.” He said the sound vibrations of the word shanti were much more powerful than its English equivalent (peace).
Newman reiterated Swami Satchidananda’s messages about the sounds of the mantras. “Even more essentially you are aligning yourself with a divine vibration. The mantras are like a magnet. Every time you chant you poke a hole at that false sense of yourself. That’s when they stick. After a little while, there’s a little birdie that says ‘hey you. Everything’s gonna be ok.’ And that transforms your life.”
In the meantime, it just feels good. Kids have natural energy and sensitivity to things. They also have natural creativity and a natural sense of honesty. So, when you see kids enjoying the vibrations, rhythms, beats, and syllables, it’s got to be right. And, not just for the little ones.