(What No One Tells You About Teaching Yoga to Children)
There’s a lot of extra baggage that goes along with teaching yoga to children. There are the oblivious parents. There are the over-zealous administrators of the schools hosting your classes. There are the controlling day care teachers sitting in on your preschool classes. There are the too large and too small spaces in which you teach. There are the many, many yoga mats to carry around. There are the classes that don’t get filled. There are the classes with too many students. There are the too hot outdoor summertime classes. There are the times in which you lose your voice. There are the yoga mats that get peed on. There are the kids who arrive already tired. There are the kids who hit. There are the summer camp counselors who don’t really like children. There are the camp counselors who act like children.
You think you’re ready to teach a yoga class, and you find yourself with all of this extra baggage that you didn’t expect (and don’t really want). What to do? First, you must decide if you want the baggage that goes along with the true joy of teaching yoga to children. If the joy of teaching yoga to children is true, then YES, take the extra baggage that goes along with it! It’s so worth it.
Second, help yourself with responding to this extra baggage, instead of reacting to it like a madwoman or madman. At the end of the day, the person it’s going to hurt the most is you! Why not use some of those handy techniques that you teach your students? Practice a few minutes of meditation in your car before you walk into the chaotic pre-school you’ve found yourself teaching at. Take yourself less seriously and laugh along with your students when they find the activity you’ve brought in absolutely hilarious! With loving kindness, ask the chit-chatty camp counselor to sanitize the mat with pee on it.
Simply put, we need to “walk the talk” for our own sanity, health, and well-being. Our students will hear us and respect us far more often the more we embody the practices we are sharing. It’s crucial that our personal practice extends beyond the time on our mats.
This extra baggage isn’t really extra. It’s a part of the world of teaching yoga to children. It’s all the fun and annoyance that comes along for the ride. If you are committed to sharing the wisdom and magic of the yogic practice with children, then you will be able to flow with all the rest.