Interview with Christine Curtis: How to Teach Yoga for Children -
Yoga Center How to Teach Yoga for Children - Interview with Christine Curtis
How did your interest in yoga for children start?
Helping children reach their full potential, whatever their starting point, has always been one of my prime goals as a primary school head teacher.
Children with learning challenges particularly concerned me, especially those with attention deficit disorders or high anxiety. As a yoga practitioner I knew how grounding and calming yoga could be and wondered if yoga could offer similar benefits to children.
The results were almost immediate for those children. Over time, yoga and mindful activities were gradually introduced throughout the whole school and included all children.
It was one of the most popular and productive initiatives I had ever introduced into a school setting and every child benefitted in their own particular way, according to their individual needs.
Did anything in particular take you by surprise?
Yes! Absolutely! How children need to stop and just be! They look forward to it, ask for it! All of them – even the most unlikely, hyperactive children!
Why do you think yoga is so popular with children?
That’s a good question and is often not apparent. Parents say, “My child loves yoga – what is it you do in class?” I believe it is the atmosphere they appreciate rather than any activity in particular. Subconsciously they feel they are in a safe, judgement-free zone, away from expectations from parents, teachers, peers and society in general. They can experience being their true selves in a space that is free from the stresses of constantly being assessed and judged and the fear of possible failure.
This belief is supported by their typical responses when asked why they enjoy yoga:-“Yoga makes me feel calm/peaceful/free/loved/happy/relaxed…..” What more could we wish for them?
What is your joy when teaching yoga to children?
All children are perfect beings. They all have a good heart but aren’t always provided with the conditions needed for them to express this. It is lovely and truly gratifying to see children releasing tension, opening up and spontaneously showing kindness and support to each other, themselves and in general to the world around them.
My joy is bearing witness to this and having the privilege of holding the keys which unlock the world of yoga for them.
What is your advice to anyone thinking about teaching yoga to children?
It is a very different experience to teaching adults so it is important to be flexible with no pre-conceived expectations. Children are great teachers and when we can accept this with an open mind we regain that simpler, purer perspective on life which has often been misplaced as we pursue our busy, modern day, adult lives.
If you have ever, even fleetingly, thought about teaching yoga to children, then my advice is to give it a go! Children’s yoga teachers are sowing the seeds for a more positive future for all. What an amazing mission – and the way is fun, enlightening and fulfilling!
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