Farnham try out Yoga with Amy
Amy joins Farnham Youth Company to teach them some Yoga for part of their ArtsAward programme…
Farnham Youth Company are taking part in a programme called ArtsAward and as part of this they have to engage with different artists; ones that can teach them about something new and give them the opportunity to have a go at it.
It was decided that I would deliver a session on yoga! I have never experienced teaching yoga to children and although I have some experience of delivering inclusive yoga, the variety of characters and ability in the Farnham group provided me with a new challenge.
There are now lots of children taking yoga classes and different qualifications you can take in order to teach yoga to minors, but I wanted to discover my own method and ideas for facilitating a class for a group like Farnham Youth Company. I began by recognising key ideas/actions that I wanted to introduce, these included: basic pranayama (breathing practice), a version of a sun salutation, working/moving/breathing together, positivity and mindful/creative practice.
Obviously this might seem quite a lot for one short session with a group that has never done any yoga before; my aim was to give a taste of all these elements of yogic practice and help them to enjoy the experience, potentially leaving them wanting more.
To begin the session I wanted to focus the group and try something quite challenging. This was a risk as I know that this particular group can be easily distracted and can be a bit excitable. I began with everyone sitting quietly in a circle finding a deep belly breath (with hands on their abdomens, they puffed up their bellies like a balloon then deflated them again). This went down very well. We then made the circle smaller and placed one hand on the shoulder of the neighbours to the right whilst keeping one hand on their own bellies. We then breathed together feeling the person next to you breathing at the same time. This led into group movement using contact and still focusing on breath. Although there were a few giggles at the moment of touch, once that had subsided they really engaged with the idea of group movement and there were smiles all round.
The majority of yoga postures (asanas) are taken from nature and this is something that has proved really useful for me when trying to perform the asanas and remember the names. In my mind I have very strong images and sometimes stories that unfold with my practice. I have never used this in any of my teaching but I thought that it could be a way to make some of the very complex asanas more accessible to the youth company participants. I decided to develop two stories: one in order to create a short sun salutation, and the other to demonstrate a virabhadrasana (warrior) sequence. I collected images that would help and made cards of these so there would be a visual aid as well as a vocal aid (from me). They loved it! They were so focused from the group breathing that they learnt the sequences very quickly and committed to the stories with gusto. I was impressed.
For me yoga is a creative practice, every session I deliver I spend time before hand planning and creating sequences that I think are appropriate for that days teaching. Giving Farnham Youth Company the opportunity to create their own postures and story meant that they had an insight into the creative and thoughtful side to yoga. Their imaginations were wonderful and we had fun creating a slightly odd story from the asanas created.
Finally we made three smaller groups and practiced the three yoga sequences (stories), it was amazing to see how well they remembered all of the positions and the flow from one to the next. Really it was very complex but because of the images and the stories, they absorbed the learning much quicker than I expected.