Up until a few years ago, I was a cycle, barre and rowing teacher. I only wanted to participate and teach fitness that increased my heart rate, and made my body burn and feel sore the next day.
Once I discovered yoga, all that changed.
The mind, body and soul connection of yoga was everything I had been looking for. I was immediately hooked. It was as if yoga showed up in a red bow on my doorstep. I loved the practice and foundation of yoga so much that I decided to enroll in a yoga teacher training to become a certified yoga instructor. Currently, I am teaching at Yogaworks and loving it.
Yet, while I was certified to teach adult yoga, I also had a vision of teaching kids yoga. I knew that children needed yoga, as well as mindfulness. As a mom of three kids - ages 12, 9 and 5 - I saw the need for zen and peace in my children’s lives, especially after the emotional few years they had encountered. But, I also knew that I couldn’t teach children’s yoga classes in the same way that I teach adult vinyasa yoga classes. I wasn’t sure where to start in my quest to learn how to teach kids yoga.
Through a mutual friend, I was introduced to Robyn Parets, Founder and CEO of Pretzel Kids yoga. I have been shown time and time again that nothing is by chance. Everything happens for a reason. Once I found Pretzel Kids, I immediately enrolled because of the ease and convenience of the online training. This worked with my busy schedule as a mom of three. I had already invested 200 hours plus, and a significant amount of money, to complete my adult yoga training. I wasn’t looking for a long-winded and expensive kids yoga certification course. I wanted something easy and fast. I wanted to start teaching kids yoga right away.
Pretzel Kids was exactly what I was seeking!
The Pretzel Kids online certification consists of several videos split up into each part of a children's yoga class. This was simple to understand and implement immediately into real kids yoga classes. The best part was the flexibility of the Pretzel Kids certification The lesson plans were provided to us and Robyn was available to help and advise me as I started teaching children’s yoga classes.
In fact, upon completing my certification, I began teaching in a preschool right away. Since I began working with preschoolers, I’ve learned a lot. Here are my top three takeaways as a Pretzel Kids yoga teacher.
1. Kids like consistency. If it works, keep it up!
The Pretzel Kids model works because it offers a templatable methodology that you can use to create every lesson plan, for any age group. When I first started teaching preschoolers, I thought I’d be unique and mix up the structure a bit, adding my own format to each class.
I spent hours creating my own classes. Instead, the kids wound up yearning for the same themes and structure that Pretzel Kids had provided to me. It was true. Just like the Pretzel Kids teachers taught us: Kids gravitate toward the same structure. There is a method to this madness.
The Pretzel Kids team of educators took the time to study this structure well and they know what works. Instead of making my life more difficult as an instructor, I learned it was okay to do what was provided for me and teach it well.
2. A kids yoga teacher must be firm, yet gentle.
Kids are kids. They love to come to a class and talk to their friends, not pay attention - especially preschoolers.
At the start of each Pretzel Kids yoga class, it is so important to establish your role as a teacher. I spent many phone calls with Robyn asking why I didn't have the control I wanted when teaching my classroom of 10 preschoolers. I quickly learned that nothing was wrong with me. It was the nature of preschoolers!
With Pretzel Kids’ advice and my own trial and error, the kids in my classes are now respectful, quiet and take off their shoes immediately, putting them to the side of their mats. I realized that as a teacher, things may not always be perfect, yet we do the best we can to give the children the best possible yoga experience.
Teaching kids to tap into their own serenity and peace is what is most important to me when it comes to teaching children’s yoga, and that is what I need to keep at the forefront of my mind. It’s not about pose perfection. And yes, we have fun playing Pretzel Kids yoga games, while learning breathing techniques and kids yoga poses.
Kids grow up comparing themselves to others, fighting with friends, feeling they are not good enough. Yoga is a way to show them that they are perfect just as they are, and that it’s okay to have imperfect moments.
3. Kids get bored fast and that is okay. This is not a reflection on you.
As a yoga teacher, I assumed everything I taught the kids would be fun and exciting. I also assumed they'd always listen to me.
Yet, kids don’t always want to learn Ujjayi breath or close their eyes for a meditative journey. Now I know that this is normal and there are plenty of ways to engage children using the Pretzel Kids proven method!
There is a template to Pretzel Kids classes for a reason. They work! At the same time, kids are kids and one size doesn’t fit all. So, sometimes kids are interested and I take them on a journey with breathing, and sometimes we do a few breaths and move onto other components of the class structure, like the games. No surprise: Kids love games. The Pretzel Kids manual has a plethora of games to choose from. If the kids are wanting games, then extra games are what I offer and they love it!
Find Your Purpose
The reason I offer up my top three takeaways as a Pretzel Kids yoga instructor is that I want you to understand that it’s important to follow a class structure while still paying attention to what works for your particular group of children.
Keeping your goals in mind, you can run effective classes with ample opportunities for the kids to be reflective and find their inner calm. You can also provide them with an outlet to be happy and silly. When the kids play Pretzel Kids yoga games, they learn to share and work together - while getting their silly on.
Going back to my purpose as a kids yoga teacher: I love that I can now help kids find serenity and peace. If they can experience even a few minutes of this, I feel like I’ve achieved my mission. I’m also so happy that Pretzel Kids has the same mission, and supports me through my teaching struggles, while celebrating my wins.
About Ali Beth: Ali Beth is a licensed Pretzel Kids teacher, motivational speaker and wellness expert. Ali Beth's mission is to guide you to become the best version of yourself though rewriting your life stories. You can learn more about Ali Beth at Ali Beth Stories.