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Is your child learning to channel her energy in creative and constructive ways, or is she suffering from increasingly common issues such as sensorial dysfunction, ADD/ADHD, learning difficulties, dyspraxia, dyslexia or autism, to name just a few?

In a world of incessant stimulation, with the continuous distractions of online gaming, multi-media advertising and peer one-upmanship, it’s no surprise that our children are being prescribed Ritalin, struggling to communicate effectively, and often living in unnecessary fear and anxiety.

Today’s children in particular are being born with an incredible amount of energy vibrating at a high frequency, and if this is not correctly channelled, they can quite easily fall prey to the conditioned negative thought processes, indoctrinations, judgments, “knowledge” and opinions of the adult world. They are incredibly sensitive to external stimuli, in particular the messages of the media about what they should look like, who they should be, and what they should do with their lives. Media-provoked body issues are surfacing far earlier than we’d care to admit, and depression and anxiety are becoming more and more prevalent amongst children.

The good news is that, while most of us have already been conditioned into certain ways of thinking and behaving by years of societal programming, children are for the most part still fairly malleable beings, with an immense amount of ingenuity, creativity and originality to offer the world.

Despite the apparent external chaos of our current society, consciousness is finally shifting, albeit slowly, from ego to heart, and children being born into this generation appear to have a great understanding of the power of the heart, or “we” consciousness versus the ego, or “I” consciousness.

Our role is to offer children the tools they need in order to remain centred in this inherent inner wisdom, sharing practical ways for them to keep their hearts open and their critical voices quiet.

Yoga, yoga therapy and mindfulness have proven effective in helping our children to counter the stressors of everyday life, creating the “download” or process time necessary for them to put their sensory world into perspective. The aim of these practices is to allow children to easily access their own inner resources by centering inwards and reconnecting to and maintaining a loving relationship with self that encompasses a non-judgmental acceptance of the mind, body and heart.

Children’s yoga teachers often need to be the voice their students don’t hear at school or even at home. Our role is primarily to promote a strong sense of self for each child, detailing how very special she is and how powerful both her body and spirit really are.

Yoga and mindfulness practices teach children how to change state into a place of greater balance and calm at will. They provide a safe space for them to connect with their internal experience and filter out the external diversions that get in the way of them being true to themselves.

A typical children’s yoga class will always begin with a bit of quiet reflection time and heart opening meditations to allow the child to move to a place where they are able to reflect on the magnitude of their being and receive the maximum benefit of the teachings of the yoga class. The teacher will direct participants into a dignified and still seated pose and introduce a series of meditative breathing exercises. These simple mindful practices help to centre the children, allowing them to focus inward and become aware of the present moment with gentleness and non-judgment. They also serve to direct the energy down into the body, from whence it can then be managed and directed by the yoga postures that follow. In yoga we believe that the body and the mind are inextricably connected, so the actual poses wake up the often stagnant or frustrated energy, getting rid of the excess and allowing the rest to flow in a way that helps them to develop better body awareness, strength and flexibility; build balance and co-ordination; tone internal organs; and promote an overall sense of wellbeing, both physical and psycho-spiritual.

South Africa’s leading provider of children’s yoga classes and children’s yoga teacher trainings, Yoga4Kids has been successfully spreading children’s yoga and life skills throughout South Africa since 2003.

Yoga4Kids is represented nationally, with teachers in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

We offer classes for YogaTots (ages 3 – 7), YogaKids (ages 8 – 12) and YogaTeens (ages 13 – 18). The Yoga4Kids curriculum offers an age-appropriate mind, body and heart balance to children through exercises, breathing techniques and relaxation skills. The curriculum is based on yoga practice, mindfulness practice, and the life skills and wellbeing workshops developed by Yoga4Kids.

The non-profit arm of the brand, the Yoga4Kids Foundation, runs free weekly classes at child and youth care centres around Cape Town.  Our outreach classes currently cater to approximately 40 children, all of whom have been removed from their home situations for various reasons and are now in foster care at the centres we visit. The children range from ages 4 to 12, and are from all over Cape Town. Yoga4Kids trainees and teachers are encouraged to use their new skills to give back to the community through this worthy **seva** project, which we will soon be expanding across the rest of South Africa.

For more information, to find a Yoga4Kids class near you, or to enquire about becoming a Yoga4Kids teacher yourself, visit www.yoga4kids.co.za.

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