What is a children’s yoga?
As an established and recognised modality worldwide, yoga can be modified to suit all ages and stages of life. When taught to children by a skilled and qualified yoga teacher, yoga can provide a high energy play-based experience, or a quiet, soothing, restorative experience.
Yoga taught by a trained yoga teacher is age and stage appropriate, aligns to the local and Australian Curriculum and supports the unit of work being delivered by the classroom teacher.
Yoga classes for children can help participants to deal with issues caused by the demands and pressure of daily life and provide valuable tools to assist children in navigating their individual growth and development into adulthood. These experiences can be profound and very powerful, building confidence, awareness and improving self-esteem.
Yoga and the curriculum
Yoga is taught in public and non-government schools across Australia either within the context of the curriculum or for physical activity, wellbeing or recreation to support the curriculum. Classes may be taught during class time, during elective class time, at lunchtime or before and after school. Due to the specific needs of children and teenagers, it is preferred that any yoga taught in the school setting be taught by yoga teachers with a recognised qualification in yoga teaching and additional training and qualification in teaching yoga to children and teenagers.
Yoga in schools
Depending on the age and the needs of the students, a yoga class in a school environment can include:
– an introductory discussion about well-being or explanation about a practice theme;
– mindfulness practice to bring awareness to the current state of the body, mind and breath;
– physical postures to improve strength, flexibility, balance and coordination;
– games to provide opportunities for social interaction and creativity;
– story-telling to engage the imagination and provide context and meaning to the practice;
– breathing techniques to improve lung capacity and calm the body and mind; and
– relaxation to introduce students to meditation.
Development of standards for children’s Yoga Teaching
Since 2013, Yoga Australia has led the development of consistent standards for yoga teachers who work with children in Australia. A committee of yoga teachers was established with representation from children’s yoga teachers, providers of courses for children’s yoga, researchers, school educators and policy developers.
As teaching yoga to children is an important and growing field with significant risks if not delivered to the highest level, Yoga Australia has developed standards for:
– The registration of training programs for children’s yoga teachers; and
– Continuous professional development of children’s yoga teachers.
Yoga Australia’s educational standards for the training of children’s yoga teachers are aimed at:
– Supporting the professional and vocational development of children’s yoga teachers.
– Establishing children’s yoga as a credible and valued modality within the broader field of education.
– Providing a well-recognised and respected accreditation framework and process for the teaching of children’s yoga.
– Providing career path guidelines for children yoga teachers wishing to further develop their skill and knowledge in the area of children’s yoga.
These standards support the safe provision of high-quality yoga to children in school, studio and community settings across Australia.
Recommended standards for becoming a Children’s Yoga Teacher
1. Qualified yoga teacher (Yoga Australia Level 1 or greater).
2. Complete a 50hr specialised training course in Children’s Yoga (course registered as Approved Professional Development with Yoga Australia or evidence of completion of a course with all the competencies listed in the standard guidelines) Find out more about Approved Professional Development Courses here
3. Children’s yoga teachers must have a ‘Working with Children/Vulnerable People’s card.
4. Current First Aid certificate as required for all Yoga Australia registered yoga teachers.
The 50 hours of training need to include:
– Classroom Environment & Lesson Structure – 4 hours
– Anatomy, Physiology & Social/ Emotional Development – 6 hours (contact & non-contact i.e. reading)
– Teaching Methodology – 10 hours
– Philosophy & Ethics – 2 hours
– Classroom Management – 5 hours
– Techniques – 15 hours
– Teaching Practice – 8 hours
Benefits of becoming a Yoga Australia qualified children’s yoga teacher
- the teacher is qualified and has undertaken specific training,
- is undertaking relevant continuous professional development,
- has a current first certificate, and
- holds a current Working with Vulnerable People registration.
Children’s yoga teachers have access to resources and support activities developed by the Working Group.
Yoga Australia has undertaken a literature search of existing peer-reviewed research measuring the benefits of yoga to school-aged children. Research indicates positive results and improvement in the physical, social, emotional and academic aspects of students, as well as improved student focus, concentration, wellbeing and healthy behaviours. Other studies indicate that yoga can contribute to a reduction in student stress, anxiety, and depression and may be associated with fewer bullying incidents. Selected research papers are available for children’s yoga teachers.