Oh the mouths of babes. I followed up both statements by asking, “Do we practice real yoga?” This lead to giggles and a clear “No.”
Real Yoga. Real. Yoga. I’m so so delighted to hear that children are practicing with their parents, and being exposed to their parents’ daily practices. Perhaps our yoginis are even bringing some of their yoga into our vinyasas and daily routines. But I really had to smile and put myself into the 4 year old minds of my yoginis, and meditate on “real” yoga.
Yoga, at it’s core, means union – a union of the mind and body, or in a spiritual sense, a union of mind, body, and spirituality. In our classes we talk about joining our moving bodies and breath. Of course, yoga means so many different things to so many people, but what does it mean to my yogis?
Delving a bit deeper with my students, I was enlightened to learn that “real yoga” means advanced or “harder” poses. It means Mama saying “I’m going to my yoga class now!” It means being still in our poses and in our thoughts. Yes! All of these scenarios are yoga. But the yoga we practice in our circles is also the heart of “real” yoga.
As a children’s yoga teacher, I believe it’s my responsibility to cultivate an appreciation and respect for yoga, and to create a strong, positive yoga foundation. Of course, we practice poses and sometimes give them silly names. We learn Balloon Breath and Volcano Breath, and we play Yogi Yogi Dog and Pass The Planet. But we also discuss the seasons, the Earth, our feelings, our friendships, our connection to nature and all that is around us. While practicing ant (plank) and spider poses we may talk about how we take care of all creatures, even the smallest beings. While passing around the singing bowl we may fill it with our dreams and wishes for a new season (intentions). All of which is real yoga – yoga as a way of being, a way of life. And how fortunate to begin practicing these ideas at such a young age!
Of course, at 4 years old this may not be entirely clear, but I do smile. And once again, I’m given a brilliant opportunity to delve a bit deeper, and for myself, to meditate on the connections and sense of beings we are cultivating. And of course to giggle and play with all my yogis!