When it comes to exercise and movement, kids are just the same as us – if it doesn’t appeal, the motivation to do it is closer to zero. If I tell my kids we’re going to the village for a walk, sometimes the response I hear can be anything from the familiar ‘do we have to’ groan, to wailing, the stomping of feet and even the throwing down of toys – sometimes all of this simultaneously at which point even I have given up on going anywhere. However, if say we’re going to the village to ride bikes and scooters – it’s a whole other story!
My point is – we have to get our kids moving but we need to find things that they love to do, so that movement and exercise isn’t a chore. Not all kids enjoy playing high energy games. For some, a more subtle form of exercise is preferred. After talking to holistic therapist and yoga teacher Emma of PranaSol, kids yoga would certainly be a fun and playful option for children who don’t want to run or break into a sweat.
Emma of PranaSol – kids yoga teacher here in Mallorca
It was during Emma’s first yoga experience as an adult, that she was taken back to her childhood. At the end of the class, in savasana, she remembered how she used to lay on a blanket in the middle of the floor, pretending to be on a desert island. Now as a qualified yoga teacher and working in the Balearic Islands, she’s helping children of all ages to relax and restore their minds and bodies on their own paradise island! During her 280 hour, intense yoga training course in Vietnam in 2012 with ‘Rainbow Kids Yoga,’ Emma covered a range of yoga practices for various audiences – mother and baby, pre/post natal yoga, yoga for children, for the family and for the community.
Classes specific to age and audience
A typical kids yoga class incorporates some familiar movements from regular yoga. However kids yoga is playful and so more accessible for it’s young participants. Energy showers, sun dances (i.e. sun salutations) and budda breathing sound fun and inviting…and that they are. Energy showers form part of the warm up when children use their hands to shake and pretend to rinse off their bodies, it gets them moving and their energy ready for the class. Emma then guides the sun dances to music with a few additions – when in cobra position I’ve never before in my yoga class stuck out my tongue! Regular attending yogis who know the routine also have the chance to guide a sun dance sequence, as Emma encourages equality in all of her classes.
Breathing for focus and relaxation
Breathing is a key aspect of any yoga class, but here with the use of props, the children are practicing using their breath without even realising it. Budda breathing simply involves the use of a breathing blanket (like a small voile or tissue) that is blown in the air from lying position. They inhale deeply into their stomachs and fill their bellies with air and as they breathe out, the little breathing blankets lift up off their faces. Another breathing game children enjoy uses ping pong balls as props. The class lay on their tummies in a circle, chins on hands and elbows touching their neighbours to create a closed circle. This time, their breath is used to blow their ping pong ball as far away from them as they can, without moving from their position. Unsurprisingly this is a favourite game! Later on, the breath is used again at the end of the class during a guided relaxation session. Learning to work with the breath, deepening it and thereby sending more oxygen around the body is key to increasing focus and calming the body down. A vital lifeskill for today’s world I’d say.
Connecting with others during mini-adventures
After warming up with sun dances and breathing games, the children are ready for their mini yoga adventure! Here a theme like ‘Australia’ sets the destination and they then travel there via a variety of different types of transport – a new yoga pose representing the vehicles they go by. In warrior, the children go surfing. They create the boat in partners and also cycle in twos – lying on their backs with their feet touching and pedalling. Working together like this, the children are connecting with one another and thereby learning early on that making positive physical connections is a joyful experience. I think it’s so important that children are encouraged to connect with one another in this way – the ability to disconnect from the real world is far easier these days as the virtual online world calls.
Once at their destination, the children get creative and lost in their imaginations, pretending to be part of nature and the animals they meet using yoga balances and poses. A walking meditation Emma enjoys with the children uses a simple bell. Yoga blocks are set like stepping stones to create slightly raised platforms. The aim is for the children to carefully step from one block to the other, holding the bell in front of them without it ringing. It sounds easy but I’m assured there’s a lot going on in both sides of the brain for an extended period of concentration. When doing these movements, children are able to deepen their understanding of their bodies and reconnect their mind and body in the present moment.
Why start yoga?
When in a yoga pose, Emma is looking to increase the time the children can spend in it to help their balance, focus and coordination – all the while using their breath to add extension if possible. Emma believes “yoga allows children to have some quiet time, to have freedom of movement within their body as well as getting to know their own body better.” Unlike adult yoga, whereby the teacher may correct and realign the body, in this class, teacher correction is a no no. For the simple reason that it’s an environment where children can’t be labelled ‘wrong’ in what they do. There are no grades or exams to pass. Instead, natural progression comes with practice and a sense of achievement is felt when being able to do something they couldn’t do so well before.
Emma is currently teaching Toddler Yoga for 1-3 year olds at Earth Yoga but this comes to an end soon. However she is available to teach privately to all ages, individually or to groups. Plus there is no need to have any previous experience of yoga beforehand.
For more information contact Emma at:
Written by Gemma Sherlock
About the author
After many years of moving around, Gemma, her husband and 2 children settled in Mallorca.
She loves exploring novels and plays, words and meanings and writing in a variety of ways. Not realising that it was something that she would miss, Gemma is happy to have found a new outlet in Nourish.
Why Nourish the Kids? Words, language and especially writing have always been a focus and priority for Gemma.
She likes to express herself thoughtfully and with clarity whether writing or speaking and enjoys discussing and researching new ideas and topics, particularly when it comes to health and well-being.
Likes: Circuit training, pilates, cooking from Ottolenghi books, pukka tea, hummus, reflexology, the audible app, Spanish lessons at MTA and thoughtfulness.