Charney Engelbracht knows the ‘tricks of the trade” teaching kids yoga – a UNI-OM certainly helps!
Could you tell us a bit about your yoga journey and how you ended up teaching yoga to kids?I suffered with anxiety all through high school and I remember leaving my first yoga class feeling so light and at ease. This belief in yoga as a tool for mental and emotional well-being is what made me take my first yoga teachers training and also the inspiration for starting to teach kids. I believe as kids yoga teachers we are imparting skills that kids can carry with them throughout their lives to enable them to manage stress, self regulate and feel at home in their own bodies.
What’s a good age to start yoga with kids?
Kids can start doing yoga and mindfulness from age 3, although in some of my schools my students have been around 2 years old. At this age we really ‘play’ yoga and at the same time are planting seeds for a practice later in life.
What are the benefits of kids doing yoga?
There as so many benefits, we see kids improving concentration and focus, becoming more social, better able to self regulate and manage emotions, increased flexibility and strength. Yoga is also great for the core as we sit on the floor – this is great for kids who start sitting in chairs from such a young age already at school.
Shouldn’t parents be in a yoga class with their kids? Especially at that age and in the initial stages?
We encourage parents to stay for the first class for the child to settle and after that for kids to attend on their own. Kids react differently when parents are around and it has been my experience that participating in class by themselves helps establish autonomy and confidence especially in the kids who are more introverted.
Are there any differences when it comes to teaching yoga to boys and girls?
Yes and no. As with most things it really depends on the child’s personality and interests. We include many different activities, poses, games and exercises in kids yoga classes so there’s usually something for everyone 🙂
Why do kids need yoga as a form of physical activity when I can sign them up for sports like soccer, dance or swimming to expend their energy?
Yoga is unique in the sense that it is not only about physical activity, the kids are learning breathing, emotional intelligence, mindfulness and self regulation. It is a holistic form of physical activity that looks at the whole child.
I also find that it’s great for the non sporty kids as the environment we create is non-competitive and so there is no pressure to achieve.
How do you keep the kids focused and not getting distracted in class?
Tricks of the trade I incorporate art, song, games, voice and fun and sometimes a challenging yoga pose into every class and find that these keep the kids engaged.