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Children’s yoga classes
The children’s yoga classes that are based on the teachings of Kundalini Yoga normally start with allowing the kids to run and jump themselves empty. For example we play “banana” tag, tickle monster, crab soccer etc. We understand that after all they are tired of being told what to do and how to behave in kindergarten, school or at home. Similarly before coming to the yoga class they have received lunch or snacks at school or kindergarten that are generally low in quality and high-glycemic. This makes children hyper and they need the space and time to “let off steam” before being able to concentrate. Once the excess energy is out of their system we come together in a circle on the floor and start the class. First we sing two mantras while making hand gestures, this is also the way that Kundalini yoga classes for adults are started. Then everyone has the opportunity to introduce themselves and talk about how things have been going for them, how their day has been etc.
The next part of the class consists of warm-up exercises followed by the main section of the class, which could be, for example, through fairy tales, where we can embody the characters of the story, which are generally classical yoga asanas (postures). We always leave room for fantasy, because the ways of how to intertwine and discuss basic yoga exercises and topics that are important to the children are far and wide.
Why fairy tales? Even Albert Einstein has said: ““If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking”. The idea is that different storytelling help in the development of children’s intelligence and creativity, above all, stories encourage children to awaken feelings and thoughts that are difficult to experience in adulthood. Fairy tales inspire hope and courage in children and gives them new ideas. By listening to a story the child lives thru the events in it and visualizes them, the child identifies with the character, experiences the duality of life and so on.
This is also the reason why fairy tales are a successful tool in raising our children. For example, if there is violence because of bullying, instead of putting negative labels on or punishing the children who have participated in bullying, we could tell a story from a neutral point that talks about ugly and good behavior. We can then all analyze the situation and children will understand why from that point onwards they want to choose the side of goodness.
Once the exercising part of the class is over we have a guided relaxation followed by meditation. Meditation involves singing accompanied by various hand and finger movements. When they become more confident and trusting of the world we also ask them to close their eyes to be in better contact with themselves. For some children this may be quite the challenge, because there are many things to do at once: sing, hand and finger movements. We use these finger movements because there are points in fingertips that help stimulate the brain. We often have some exotic instruments with us in classes, which we also use to accompany the singing meditations.
At the end of the class we tune out, draw a picture and the children are given a special treat called prashad (sacred food), which is vegetables, fruits so called “natural sweets”, to remind the children that life is sweet and that every effort is followed by a gift. On birthdays and Christmas we also give the children crystals as gifts.