I totally geek out on all things Montessori and Yoga, so I was super excited to watch my youngest, Belle, pull out our yoga card deck and ask me to make a “yoga job” for her. I began teaching kids yoga 7 years ago when my oldest daughter, Emma, attended Montessori school. It was an easy collaboration because there are so many similarities between the two. New Child Montessori lists the following:
Similarities of Yoga and Montessori
1) Both have a calming and centering affect on the child.
2) Both begin simply and then gradually increase in difficulty.
3) Both provide movement. (Maria Montessori built movement into the work
and eliminated sitting at desks.)
4) Both Yoga and Montessori build peace from the inside out.
5) Both Yoga and Montessori focus inward and increase awareness.
6) Both Yoga and Montessori are non-competitive.
7) Like Montessori work, the emphasis for Yoga With Children is on the
process, not the end product. Enjoy the poses without concern about doing
the perfect pose.
8) Like with other work, we want the child to be successful in order to build
self esteem, so the poses are modified and sequenced to give the child the
tools to do them successfully.
9) There are three parts of a pose: going into a pose, being in the pose, and
coming out of a pose with control. These correlate with carrying a piece of
work from the shelf, using the work, and thoughtfully placing a work back
on the shelf.
Some Benefits of Yoga With Children
1) Provides movement, stretches, and builds the muscles
2) Stimulates the internal organs to function properly
3) Helps the child calm and center himself in his body
4) Helps the child calm and center his mind
5) Increases the ability to focus and concentrate
6) Increases attention span
7) Increases awareness of the body
8) Reconnects the child to his body
9) Promotes a sense of well-being
10) Increases confidence and self-esteem
11) Builds peace from the inside
12) Helps the child cope with stress
13) Relax and sleep better
14) Improves digestion
15) Helps normalize weight
How to Create a Yoga “Job” for Your Child
2) Purchase a yoga mat.
3) Select 1-3 beginner cards in the deck, such as Mountain Pose, Child’s Pose, and Tree Pose and place them in a basket or tray to be kept on your Montessori shelf.
4) Demonstrate the process:
- Unroll your yoga mat
- Carry tray/basket to your yoga mat and place it to the left of your mat
- Place the first card at the top of your mat
- Practice the pose on the card
- Place the card to the left of the mat (under the tray)
- Repeat until each pose is practiced
- Return the cards to the tray
- Carry the tray back to the shelf
- Roll up the yoga mat and return the mat to its proper place
5) Questions to ask after the practice: How does your body feel after yoga? How does your mind feel after yoga? Which pose do you like the most/least? Can you make up your own yoga pose?
Teaching children how to take care of their mind, body, and spirit at a young age will serve them well for the rest of their lives. I wish I would have had a yoga practice to help me through the difficult stages of adolescence (sigh… such hard times) and early adulthood, but I’m thankful that I’m able to share my yoga practice with my girls as they grow up. I’d love to hear how you practice yoga with your family!