Kids Yoga Feature – Elizabeth Beer

This week we are featuring Elizabeth Beer who works with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds with her “Mindful Living” programme.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus Productions

Could you tell us a bit about your yoga journey and how you ended up teaching yoga to kids?
My yoga journey started in 2008 where I was suffering from depression, anxiety and insomnia due to trauma experienced in an abusive relationship. I turned to yoga when I felt that taking medication for the rest of my life or even for another month was not an option. I started yoga classes with an incredible teacher in Harfleld Village, Cape Town in 2010. I loved yoga and was soon addicted to how it made me feel and how it transformed me. I was happier, had more energy and was sleeping better.

I went to Thailand on a month long retreat in 2010 and after I returned my teacher said to me, if you wanted to study to become a yoga teacher, you are ready. I studied with Sandra Smith at the Durbanville Yoga Centre and completed my yearlong TTC in 2013. I also became a Breath, Water, Sound Teacher during 2013 which is a course presented and facilitated by the sister organization the International Association for Human Values. It is a free programme we as volunteers teach in disadvantaged communities.

I continued to practice yoga and focused on teaching small groups of women and clients who had health problems. All along I kept my events business going and felt that the yoga practice assisted me with managing stress in a very stressful industry. In 2016, I traveled to Gauteng and studied with Bill Herman from the Art of Living Foundation NGO from USA.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus ProductionsThe course was called Yes 4 Schools and it was a life changing experience. I was taught how to teach mindfulness, yoga and breath work in a class room environment and became a Yes 4 Schools teacher. I worked events and took time off each day (coming in early and leaving later) so that I could take an hour and a half to go and teach in Bonteheuwel, a community in Cape Town where there is on-going violence and gangsterism. In 2018 after working with the Western Cape Educational Department for many years, I developed my own programme called Mindful Living.
Our programme teaches children in the classroom in disadvantaged areas how to manage their stress in healthy ways through yoga, breath work and mindfulness.  Our programme was piloted, tested and after the incredible results obtained from educators and learners alike, we taught for 3 years in the school system until Covid-19 forced us to rethink and re-look at our teaching model. We developed an hour long online Grade 12 intervention programme and taught stress management to educators online during lockdown. I have also completed my Yoga Therapy Certification this year through Durbanville School of Yoga who follows a long lineage of traditional Hatha yoga masters.

What’s a good age to start yoga with kids?
We have been taught that you can start Asana practice with children from an early age, I have been teaching my granddaughter yoga since the age of about 18 months. For Prananyama practice we only start working with Grade 4 – Grade 12.

What are the benefits of kids doing yoga?
Kids love the activity, they are natural yogis. It assists children of all ages with managing their emotions and relaxing their minds.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus Productions

Shouldn’t parents be in a yoga class with their kids? Especially at that age and in the initial stages?
No, not at all necessary, as I’ve said children are natural yogis.

Are there any differences when it comes to teaching yoga to boys and girls?
I have not experienced this. In the environments I work in, the girls can sometimes be more talkative than the boys.

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 not a sport, it is so much more than a physical activity, it helps with the management of the mind and emotions, it is the only sort of physical practice that works to eliminate toxins, massages your internal organs and revitalizes the entire mind, body and soul.

How do you keep the kids focused and not getting distracted in class?By keeping the yoga practice fun and interactive, depending on the age of the child you can theme the classes accordingly, bring smell, colour and nature into your classes. Kids are the most amazing audience.

We moved to Barrydale during Covid in order to have a more holistic and healthier lifestyle. I have taught 2 Breath, Water, Sound Programmes which are free yoga programmes under the International Association for Human Values of which I am also a teacher. The youth in Barrydale are not unlike any other young people living in townships and communities in South Africa. They have ongoing challenges to face and really loved doing yoga and breath work for the first time ever. I have taught over 25 youth in Barrydale since we’ve gone into Level 1 and shall continue in 2021.

The Mindful Living Programme was about to launch in Cambodia this year with 2 schools booked to receive the trainings, due to Covid we have rescheduled for 2021.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus Productions

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