Imagine a world where children are heard, seen and appreciated. A world where they are seen as an extension of the natural world, rather than yet another thing to fit into a box. Imagine this world as real. We speak to teacher Georgie Treasure-Evans.
“I teach children in various ways. From a school hall filled with 30+ kids to a small circle of children in an after school club. We always begin with a ritual chant. If in a small group we might share some healthy snacks. I ask the children how they are feeling. In a small group we use a talking stone and move round the circle one by one teaching kids to listen without interruption. In a large group I ask the kids to notice their mood and physical feelings.
Then we will do a traditional Kundalini Yoga warm up, which for young ones will be in the form of a story, each movement being an animal or the wind or a plant. The warm up for older ones looks more like a standard yoga class. I talk about how each posture can help them at home or at school. We might focus on peace and do lots of partner work. We might focus on anger and work towards calming the nervous system. I bring in meditations and mindfulness practice for whatever we are doing. Thich Nhat Hanh has some lovely ideas for kids.
We use mantra, singing, breath work and movement and our imaginations. They love the singing bowl, blowing with feathers or leaves and the little ones love having a story which we read together. Kids love the ritual of the candles, music, chanting etc.
We finish with a relaxation and a meditation and chant Sat Nam - which I explain to them means they are connecting to the truth within them. They love that and I hear them singing it down the corridors.
“The kids often say 'When I came in I was feeling really angry and fed up and now I feel completely calm and peaceful.'”
The benefits are extraordinary - and children are great at feeding back. At the end of the class we tend to check in again with our feelings and the kids often say “When I came in I was feeling really angry and fed up and now I feel completely calm and peaceful.” We talk a lot about taking care of ourselves so that we can be good peaceful citizens and friends and they really relate to that. Children tell me they sleep much better, they worry less. If only adults found it as easy to integrate yoga into their daily lives as kids do. Kids say they have more energy, feel less afraid of their powerful emotions and more able to sit with them and breathe and trust that everything will work out.
One teenager with eating disorders told me in two weeks of yoga she felt better than in eight weeks of therapy. Teachers also contact me to say the quality of the classroom discussion has never been so good as after yoga, or a particular child with behavioural difficulties has so much more self-control and seems much calmer.
I think children in schools are crying out for it as it makes them feel so calm, happy and relaxed inside they can’t believe it sometimes. There are moments in after school club where I just have to stand and breathe - and laugh and say, well this doesn’t look like yoga! The kids want to play, run and tussle. But when I remember there is no perfect class and it is what it is and I allow it and play with them for a bit, they delight in that. Then we come back to the circle. It can be hard if I am not in the right open relaxed frame of mind ... I am sure the best kids yoga teachers often are not adult yoga teachers. I feel it should be a free loving experience where I find opportunities to show them how they can find stillness and peace inside without needing them to always be sat still and do everything as I show them.
Teach every eight year old to meditate and we will erase all forms of violence in the world in one generation. My dream is that every school has a yoga teacher come in regularly. I would love to see each school start the day with 10 or 15 minutes of yoga. It would change everything for teachers and children.”
Georgie runs regular classes for children - find her at healingspirits.co.uk
BENEFITS OF A YOGA CLASS FOR CHILDREN
- Improves behaviour, sleep, strength, co-ordination, balance and flexibility
- Creates a better understanding of themselves and the world around them
- Teaches good values and morals and healthy communication
- Develops focus and concentration
- Boosts self-esteem and confidence
MAKE PEACE AT HOME
MAKE A SHRINE - We recently made a shrine. Somewhere for my children to go to when they feel angry, upset etc, light a candle, burn some incense, just sit.
PLAY MUSIC - I play yoga music a lot as it raises the vibration and creates a lovely spiritual feeling in the home.
CREATE A SHARING CIRCLE - Sitting around the table from time to time asking each member of the family how they feel and what they want to share with a talking stone (no one else is allowed to say anything!). That helps with crazy family dynamics!
A KUNDALINI YOGA CLASS IS MADE UP OF THE FOLLOWING ELEMENTS:
TUNING IN: When we practice Kundalini Yoga, we tune in by chanting ‘Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo’, connecting us to the purity of the infinite teacher living within each of us.
BREATH (PRANAYAMA): Breath is life energy itself. When we learn how to breathe consciously, we can calm our minds and master all aspects of our lives.
KRIYA: A Kriya is an exact, dynamic combination of postures (asana), breathing and sound – a complete system that balances body, mind and soul, and increases mental clarity and physical vitality.
MEDITATION: Meditation brings awareness and control of our thoughts. Using mantra (sacred sound currents repeated aloud or silently) and mudra (sacred gestures) we can clear negative patterns and connect with our higher consciousness.