As an established and recognised modality world-wide, 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 and registered 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 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 an elective class time, at lunch time 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.
Depending on the age and the needs of the students, a yoga class in a school environment can include:
– an introductory discussion about wellbeing or explanation about a practice theme;
– a 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.
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 post-graduate 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 new standards for:
– The post-graduate registration of children’s yoga teachers;
– The registration of training programs for children’s yoga teachers; and
– Continuous professional development of children’s yoga teachers.
These standards support the safe provision of high-quality yoga to children in school, studio and community settings across Australia. The registration of a Yoga Australia Children’s Yoga Teacher guarantees that the teacher is qualified has undertaken specific post-graduate training, is undertaking relevant continuous professional development, has a current first certificate and holds a current Working with Vulnerable People registration.
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 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.