Author: Erika Prafter
Photo Courtesy of Born Yoga
As the awesome colors of fall foliage set in, and the smells of the season awaken the senses, it’s a great time for young yogis to slow down, breathe and stretch in or out of doors, enjoying autumn, care of Mother Nature.
But the change in seasons often evokes new behavior and energy levels in back-to-school-bound children, says Ashley Goldberg, founder and owner of Born Yoga Studio in Birmingham, Michigan.
“I definitely see a change this time of year,” says Goldberg. “There’s an overall feeling of exhaustion, mixed with excitement as they are eager to share the changes with their friends and our staff.”
To boost their energy levels, “We begin our classes calmly sitting in a ‘yoga circle’ with an ice-breaker objective, such as saying our name and something awesome that happened today,” says Goldberg. “Then we move on to Sun Salutations or Sun Dance, depending upon the age level. Moving through these poses quickly energizes kids and gets them focused on what’s to come.”
With the older children, ages ten and up, “There’s a level of stress that you can not only hear them talk about, but see in the way that they carry themselves,” says Goldberg.
But upon entering her studio, “Tweens and teens sense relief as they drop their book bags and get ready to mindfully move and breathe. My goal for this age group is for them to feel free to be however, and whomever they want to be. If they’re tired and in need of a cozy space to tune out all that happened before they arrived, that’s when the actual yoga happens.”
To bring awareness to the beauty of the season upon us, Goldberg uses different techniques.
“With the littlest yogis (3-5 years old), we take an imaginative ‘nature walk’ yoga adventure, through which we experience the changes happening around us, pointing out the physical changes, scents and sounds,” says the kids yoga studio owner.
Observing and mimicking what children see in nature is an effective way to help children learn and grow, says Goldberg. “Younger children enjoy moving and learning about the world around them through movement before they have all of the words to express their wants and needs.”
For example, “As the weather cools, this may involve coming in to ‘bird pose,’ as we fly south together in search of warmer climates,” says Goldberg. “Kids learn that life is not stagnant. Things are constantly changing and growing, just like humans.”
Another way to help kids to stay present through mindful breathing breaks, says Goldberg.
“I love doing these in the middle of our classes. Especially after expending a lot of energy, we’ll sit down in a circle in sukhasana (easy-seated pose), choose a mudra (hand gesture), close our eyes and breathe through three Oms. In order to maintain their focus, we’ll choose three different ways in which to chant our Oms, such as soft, loud, or with an accent,” says Goldberg.