Kundalini Yoga for Kids

If you have good thoughts they will always shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. --Roald Dahl

Parenting these days has often become a Type A endeavor. In a quest for their kids' "happiness," parents leave no stone unturned to help their children acquire the skill set needed to be ready for they know not what. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Supreme Court Justice? Trying to be the perfect parent causes so much stress that it actually gets in the way of being a perfect parent! That's why teaching yoga to kids begins with teaching yoga to yourself!

Yoga provides a type of education and activity that goes beyond any Ivy League education. The greatest gift we can give a child is a set of tools for greatness that yoga helps to cultivate. These include discipline, creativity, and learning how to learn. Kids are taught many things in school but there isn't a lot in their curriculum about the working of their own mind or who we ultimately are and why we're here. Kids want answers too and they know when they're being patronized. That's why when we explain the meaning of life it has to resonate with our own experience.

We get so many e-mails, etc. to the tune of: 'What poses are good for kids?' 'What are the rules for teaching Kundalini Yoga to kids?' As they probably say in acting school: It's all about the delivery (and the intention!).

The only Kundalini Yoga techniques contraindicated for kids is Breath of Fire (before age 16) because it prematurely stimulates the pituitary to produce sex hormones. The application of various Body Locks (Root Lock, etc.) are also contraindicated.

One fabulous and fun way to teach Kundalini Yoga to kids is to pick a kriya and then create a story to go along with it. In our Teacher Trainings we ask Teachers-to-be to create a narrative around a Kundalini Yoga kriya. Here's a story from one of our graduates, Mataji Graham. She wrote this as a fun way to experience the set called: Kundalini Yoga for Flexibility and the Spine.

A DAY OF PLAY

It is a beautiful summer day. As you open the back door you feel a warm breeze and there are beautiful puffy white clouds in the deep blue sky. You run up the hill to start your day of play. As you run through the trees you see a pine cone high on a limb. You are an archer (1 Archer Pose). You pull powerfully back on your bow and take aim. You toss aside your imaginary bow and look up at the sky. You drop to the grass and float on your back on a huge ocean (2 On Back legs up two ft.). You open your eyes and one of the clouds reminds you of a dolphin. You roll over onto your stomach and imitate a dolphin diving deep into the sea. You lie on your stomach with your hands under you and your feet up in the air (3 Locust Pose). You are diving deep in the ocean like a dolphin. You look back to the sky. Now you are a skydiver. You grab your ankles and you sail through the sky (4 Bow Pose). You feel the breeze and decide you are a strong and powerful windmill (5 Alternate Toe Touches). Your arms become blades slowly rotating in the wind. They reach up, over and down. Now you feel the sun on your face and you are a beautiful sunflower (6 Forward Bend). You reach up with your arms and then bend down. You again feel the breeze as you raise your hands up over your head. Your arms sway in the warm wind (7 Side Bend). As you giggle you fall into the lush grass, your nose is a bee and your toes are flowers you buzz back and forth to gather some golden pollen (8 Sitting legs wide bends). You think wouldn't it be fun if you can create rainbow bubbles. You bring your feet together and grab your toes and move your body like opening and closing a book. (9 Ballistic movement Stretch) imagine that you are creating bubbles of every color. Giggling you end up on your back. You ease your feet back over your head and wiggle your toes in the grass (10 Plow Pose). Still laughing you roll back to the ground and raise your feet high in the sky (11 Shoulder Stand). This is fun so you do it a few times letting your toes touch the horizon, grass, the horizon and the sky (12 Continuous Plow). You now decide to be a rocket blasting off into the atmosphere . You sit on your heels and raise your arms over your head. Your arms hug your ears, your hands are clasped and your index fingers are pointing to the sky (13 Sat Kriya). You smile as you are ready for takeoff. You lower your body forward, head on the ground, your arms still extended with your palms together (14 Gurpranam). As you sit up you see a magnificent eagle flying overhead. You raise your arms up over your head and then lower them to the side (15). You become the eagle flying through the deep blue sky. You stand and think of the oil pump you saw in a field yesterday. You squat down (17) and stand up pretending to be the pump. You think of animals you saw on a farm and fall on to your hands and knees. You make sounds like a cat and cow-Moo, Meow (18 Cat/Cow). Suddenly you are very tired so you rollover on your back and relax (18). After you have rested you skip down the hill back to your house. You slip into the back door thinking what a wonderful day of play you had.

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The gong can also be a highlight for kids at the end of a Kundalini Yoga session. Tell them that they're going to take a trip on the rocket (gong). Then discuss where they'd gone to. The Moon, Las Vegas, and Heaven are some of the popular destinations we've heard!

What matters most in teaching yoga to kids is that we want to give them good associations so that later in life when it's time to get serious about a Spiritual discipline they will look back on their initial experiences with yoga and want to relive those pleasant memories.

When teaching kids trust yourself. The most import aspect of kids yoga is not the quality of your kids practice, but yours. Kids are sensitive antennas. They immediately pick up on hypocrisy but they deeply respond to authenticity. A friend of ours told us a story that took place when he and his brother were very young. They'd stayed with an elderly relative for three weeks. This man would get up very early and do yoga and prayers. Our friend and his brother, being the little terrorists that most 9/10 year olds can be, thought that this was the most hilarious thing they'd ever seen. They made relentless fun of their housemate's yoga practice the whole time they were there. But, 30 years later, our friend has become a very committed yogi and Teacher of Kundalini Yoga himself, and guess what? He cites that elderly relation as one of his 3 most important yogic influences!

We've given so many classes in which there's that one person who is fidgeting the whole time, can't keep their eyes closed for more than five seconds, and who spends most of every exercise not doing the exercise. And after we finally decide "Oh well, we'll never see that person in class again!", they come up to us afterward and say, "That was an amazing class. I feel incredible." Kids may spend much of the class giggling, trying to get attention from or talking to their friends. But in spite of that, theyou're taking it all in. Have no expectations but know that you are planting seeds that will turn into beautiful blossoms!