Yoga for kids in the UAE

Let's Go Yoga Abu Dhabi profile

Interview, Sports and Outdoor

What made you want to start teaching kids yoga?
I really love that kids yoga is a non-competitive sport. They are so many great benefits of yoga whether it’s for adults, teens or kids. I truly believe in the power of these benefits especially when introduced at an early age. Children really respond well to the exercises and after observing a session in the USA, I was really excited to influence children in a positive way that would encourage them to make better life choices, realise the importance of mindful relaxation as well as staying fit and healthy.

What exactly does kids yoga involve – how does it differ to adult yoga?
Kids yoga is essentially yoga play. This involves forming poses that mimic natural things such as sea and land animals, plants, and weather. I also encourage activity through other means such as active games, storytelling, imagery, and share circles. We have the children focus on the simple act of breathing, giving them awareness of how beneficial it is to pay attention to it and control their breath. It differs from adult yoga as it’s more interactive – the kids engage more with one another. Yoga for adults is more of an individual experience, but with that said, they also have a lot in common - both incorporate breathing techniques, sun salutation, practice patience, balance, coordination, focus and mindful movements.

What are your qualifications and experience in teaching yoga?
I have been teaching Yoga for five years and am an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (ERYT) for adults, kids, teens, pre/post-natal, restorative and meditation. I have a combination of 500+ training hours and 2000+ teaching hours obtained over the past five years. Practicing yoga can change your life, I am keen to share that knowledge and that’s why I teach.

What are the benefits of yoga for kids?
It gives young-ones the opportunity to build strength, flexibility, body awareness, self-confidence, coordination, express creativity and work in non-competitive teams. It is a wonderful opportunity to introduce the benefits of fitness to children in a safe, enjoyable and playful format. Children become more aware of their bodies, breathing, posture and their ability to express emotions and control their reactions.

For what reasons do families seek out kid’s yoga classes?
I believe it’s for the same benefits that yoga provides adults – the calm and focus it provides, to increase coordination, improve posture and breathing and to build strength and flexibility of body and mind. Many parents also tell me they hope it will calm a more active child or allow a shy child to open up and express themselves more. It’s also a wonderful way to introduce a sport in a non-competitive format which the whole family can practice at home together.

How do you manage to keep the attention of the kids?
To maintain interest and to keep them entertained we use a method called mindful movement. I plan classes which use games, music and dance, we mimic animals, nature and share stories. Each child gets an opportunity to answer questions, share emotions, and lead the group. I do include discipline in the program and have noticed if one child doesn’t participate, they get bored and eventually decide themselves that they would rather be part of the fun than sitting and watching.

What is your strategy for dealing with kids who can’t settle?
Sometimes you will notice that some children need more attention than others. I can usually gauge this quickly and am able adapt to provide attention in a balanced format. Sometimes I just let the child be, allowing them to watch until they warm up and something sparks their interest to take part. I haven’t had any child not want to participate in some aspect of the class. I also try to treat them with respect and let them know I expect the same in return. I don’t baby them but speak to them in a more mature way, so they understand we are all on the same level and looking to enjoy our time together.
Sasha holds classes at Eastern Mangroves Hotel, Salam St. Abu Dhabi. (050 349 2336).

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