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Yoga Journal - - CONTENTS - By Ni­cole Car­doza

Ni­cole Car­doza teaches a kids’ yoga se­quence that will leave you and the lit­tle ones ready to take on the world.

AS YO­GIS, WE KNOW ASANA and med­i­ta­tion can help us feel pow­er­fully grounded and em­bod­ied, which in turn shapes how we show up in the world. These prac­tices are im­por­tant for ev­ery­one—and they are par­tic­u­larly cru­cial for kids, who are dis­cov­er­ing who they will be­come on a daily ba­sis. I of­ten wish I had yoga in my life when I was a child; I be­lieve it would’ve helped me show up more fully and ex­press my­self more au­then­ti­cally. That’s why I founded Yoga Fos­ter, a non­profit that em­pow­ers el­e­men­tary school teach­ers with yoga tools and cur­ric­ula for their class­rooms. All too of­ten, chil­dren—par­tic­u­larly those of color—aren’t al­ways seen, heard, or re­spected by their par­ents and teach­ers, and they aren’t taught the skills to help them change that. Yoga can help kids take own­er­ship of their bod­ies, trans­form how they think of them­selves, and ul­ti­mately help them speak up for what they need.

The fol­low­ing se­quence is based on a Yoga Fos­ter les­son about courage and brav­ery. To keep kids en­gaged, I like to change the names of some of the pos­tures. For ex­am­ple, Dan­dayamna Bhar­manasana (Bal­anc­ing Ta­ble Pose) can sound con­fus­ing and even in­tim­i­dat­ing, so I call it Tiger Pose. My ad­vice when prac­tic­ing with chil­dren is to be play­ful. In ad­di­tion to chang­ing asana names, I weave in fun cues like, “Let out a tiger roar,” to bring the poses to life. And don’t be hy­per fo­cused on form. When kids do Chat­u­ranga Dan­dasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), for ex­am­ple, it’s go­ing to look dif­fer­ent from yours. Just be sure they’re stay­ing safe.

Fi­nally, re­mem­ber that no mat­ter how much fun you make it, prac­tic­ing with chil­dren re­quires pa­tience and ded­i­ca­tion. Don’t think of this as your prac­tice, but rather an op­por­tu­nity to spend time with kids. That be­ing said, stay open to what you can learn from them. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, kids bring a joy and cu­rios­ity to yoga that in­spires the same in my own prac­tice.

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