Calm Hearts Help Others – Kids Yoga with Purpose

SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness weekly classes are more than just postures. If I wanted to teach postures, the classes would need to be entitled playful stretching, creative movement or something along those lines. If one teaches yoga, there are several limbs of the practice that must be included and the cohesiveness understood between the various limbs. A yoga teacher, whether for adults or for children, must help students understand how and why to practice. To dispel the many misperceptions around yoga and meditation, an experienced teacher must relay the different facets of the practice in a relatable manner. From teaching thousands of children over more than 14 years, I know that a calm heart speaks universally to kids, no matter the socio-economic background. A calm heart also speaks universally to adults.

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Philosophy is an important aspect of yoga. Without cultivating our discernment of what is helpful and what is destructive about our behavior, we simply stretch and then leave the yoga mat only to continue our unmindful habits of impatience, self-centeredness and the like. SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes, occurring weekly in public schools always include relevant and real life stories of how our motivation of heartfulness helps bring more calm and ease to ourselves and others.

I teach the inner city children who live in the downtown Los Angeles area. They live simply. One can imagine the crowded apartment settings with ongoing noise and quest for survival. During the precious 20-minutes I am allowed to spend with these children each week, my own heart is uplifted and humbled by their responses and participation. When I ask, “Who are we going to help?” within the imaginative elements of our yoga class, they say, “The less fortunate, the homeless.” The strength of heart these children naturally embody must be drawn out and encouraged. They live in conditions that so many would classify as less fortunate, and yet, they are noticing those around them that have even less. Our SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes give these wonderful young citizens of Los Angeles the means to think about others while moving and breathing to contribute to the neutral connections within their brains. In short, our SCHOOL classes help to integrate the physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of children which cannot be achieved through posture alone.

Calm Hearts Appeal to Children

I just finished teaching three of the eight SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness classes for today. Going into public schools for over 13 years and teaching to elementary aged children has provided quite a wealth of experience. It is safe to say that the approach I take with these amazing inner city kids works. The essence of the practice, the reason to practice, the motivation to practice is to have a calm heart. Pretty simple and yet, disappears from our mindfulness so many times each day with life’s business and demands.

Here are a few of the responses from 2nd graders on how they have been using their practice:

“I had to get a shot at the doctor and I used my calm breathing.”
“I played with my sister with a calm heart.”
“I used my calm breathing while taking a test.”
“I said Our Hearts Are Calm Today when I had the hiccups.”
“I helped my brother to breathe calmly when he was mad.”
“I couldn’t read something very good so I used my calm breathing and had a calm heart.”

And of course, we need to have a calm heart for:
“I went to the fair and rode a roller coaster and used my calm breathing to keep my heart calm.”

Life is much like a roller coaster, yes? It is quite challenging to teach Kids Yoga and well worth every moment. If one has been teaching as long as I have, the cutesy and idealistic honeymoon phase of teaching Kids Yoga is behind us. We work with the dynamic of the classroom, the children, and the environemnt to demonstrate by our own presence and behavior the essence of a calm heart. Going into public schools and teaching more than 25 children in each class and seeing more than 1,000 children on a weekly basis has indeed been challenging and simultaneously, the most rewarding work I have encountered. Life’s ups and downs are much more manageable with a calm heart.