On summer evenings after teaching beach yoga in the local town, the kids run over to me shouting; “Yoga man! Yoga man!” and we do a little mini-class together. Or when I’m walking the dog in the evening across the same field they run over and we practice some poses again. Usually handstands and warrior poses. Seeing who can hold them the longest..
I’ve been teaching yoga for 4 years and practicing it for 9 years. I’ve been sporty, healthy and active all of my life. Making my Dad take to football training when I was 7 on a Saturday morning was where it all began.
I grew up in West Sussex and at school was captain of the football team, tennis team and regularly won sportsman of the year trophies as a teenager. Whilst also traveling the country on scout car racing weekends.
I’ve spent 20 years in London as a professional photographer and I chose to come back to West Sussex as I felt like I wasn’t fulfilling my life’s purpose. Which is to encourage and help others. Not pursue being a successful photographer. I could also see how London and every-day life was making a lot of people stressed. With the best part of their lives passing them by.
I shot big ad campaigns for nike and adidas, but felt there was something missing. That I was chasing someone elses dreams and always trying to prove myself to some one or something that was always out of reach. After lots of yoga and meditation, listening to myself and the world around I realised that I have an abundance of energy for encouraging people.
I had taught a few photography workshops and this is what nudged me to go for it and train to be a yoga teacher.
Studying and teaching yoga gives me the skills to live a better life and share this with others. From being more mindful of the present moment to enjoying the wind in the trees, your heart beat, using your peripheral vision.. the sound of nature around us. I felt I became disconnected from the real world when I was in London. Living inside my head, continuous to do lists etc. Shamanism, tribal.. Now I have a career that allows me to encourage people to reconnect to their bodies, their breath and have fun again..
Similar to some of my adult classes I plan to lead short childrens yoga sessions based around introducing breath work, meditation, awareness of energy, connection to the ground through touch, sound and movement. I’d like to even introduce the occasional song or rhymes.
Each block of classes looks at different narratives or themes which are age appropriate and link into the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. These sessions will promote physical activity and confidence building.
Elements that can be incorporated from the EYFS curriculum; listening, attention, understanding, follow instructions, copying movements and familiar expressions, story lines into play, physical movements, experiments with different ways of moving, good co-ordination in large or small movements, health and self care, observes effects of activity on the body (energy, heartbeat), know importance of health and able to talk about ways of keeping healthy, of physical exercise, occasionally move to music, listen or join in rhymes or songs, begin to move rhythmically, being imaginative, express self through physical action and sound, initiates new combinations of movements and gestures in order to express and respond to feelings, ideas and experiences.
Postures work to develop strength; flexibility; stability; balance; poise; co-ordination; spatial awareness; strengthen the immune system and keep the internal systems of the body healthy.
We focus on the movements of the chest and the spine to that comes from an awareness of deeper breathing. These exercises enhance lung capacity and balance energy levels. We notice how this is then connected to the whole of the body and how it creates calmness inside and outside the body.
We develop balance and spatial awareness in a fun ways. These movements stimulates internal systems and keep the organs healthy. We mention the basic organs in the body and how they work.
Yoga is known to strengthen the immune system and help promote peaceful sleep. Classes always aim to facilitate positive play, learning and interaction with others.
Relaxation techniques towards the end of the class create greater clarity; in particular memory retention and improve sleep patterns. Occasional breathing or vocalisation techniques in various postures can help to release anxieties and dissipate nervous energy. Giving children the tools they can then take away from the yoga class and practice in their daily lives.
Concentration exercises such as balancing or strong standing postures (e.g. warrior two pose) improve focus.
These yoga classes again aim to enhance creativity, imagination, improves self expression and self confidence. Giving children the understanding of their own space and their part or role as a group.
These techniques and the yoga practice in general, when taught well, develops the whole human being, the whole personality, the whole child and not just the body.
Developing self respect and understanding of ours and other peoples actions and the energy behind those actions.
Deeper benefits of a regular yoga practice balance both hemispheres of the brain and their associated functions i.e. the left hemispheres (linear, logical and intellectual) and the right hemisphere (artistic, creative and intuitive). This can be achieved in specific yoga poses by setting up a basic standing posture for example. Getting the feet in the right place, legs strong and then adding in creative elements. So once the body is set-up right we can then move within each pose, giving us freedom and being more creative.
All of this is likely to support other sporting and physical activities and can be a valuable aid to preventing injuries.