7- to 10-Year-Olds
Your 7- to 10-year-old is …
Looking to “lead”
Seeking approval from adults and friends
With this age group, things begin to look a little bit more like adult yoga. You can sustain your child’s attention for a longer period of time, and he is ready for deeper introduction to the Yoga Principles and visualization and relaxation techniques. With your 7- to 10-year-old, you can begin to explore and set up the basic building blocks of a typical formal yoga class. But don’t let them fool you-7- to 10-year-olds are still interested in being playful and having fun, so you will want to make sure to incorporate lots of yoga games and songs to encourage playfulness and keep them engaged in the learning process.
Sessions can now range between 20 and 40 minutes long. Your child’s attention span is growing, so you can plan for longer activities, or more activities in a session, and spend more time on each activity, delving deeper with the learning process.
Begin to focus on proper alignment. With your 7- to 10-year-old, you can begin focusing a bit more on proper alignment in yoga postures, while also attempting more challenging postures. Begin to introduce flowing sequences, and incorporate more partner work. You can also more deeply explore breathing exercises and relaxation techniques all of the features of a typical yoga class in a studio.
Fully explore the Yoga Principles. As you probably know, your 7- to 10-year-old loves a good discussion and he is developing a sense of morality and opinions of his own (“That’s not fair!”). This is the perfect age to delve into deep discussions on the Yoga Principles. You may choose to emphasize those Yoga Principles that focus on feelings of acceptance, empathy, and civic concerns. As most children this age are working to improve their reading and writing skills, you might use a whiteboard, chalkboard, or shared journal onto which the two of you can write your thoughts as you discuss a given principle.
Allow your child more opportunities to lead. Kids in this age group are also beginning to seek more independence. They may not be as open to being “instructed” as they wel’e wl they were younger. However, they still seek adult and assurance. Allow your child opportunities to take the lead on Lhoosing what to focus on in a yoga session. Ask him, “How are you feeling today? In your body? In your mind? What do you want to focus on?” tiddenly, the yoga session is “his.” Before you know it, he’ll be teaching you a [hilly, of two. I lomor him and watch the respect and connection between you glow.
Explore the visualization techniques during relaxation. Seven- to 10-year-olds especially enjoy the use of visual imagery and stories. Now that they Imve a longer attention span, you can really explore the relaxation and visualization techniques . The use of creative imagery and stories helps relax children, while also improving their creativity. Try to tie in the theme or Yoga Principle discussed into the story or visualization to help bring it to life.
Preteens (10-12 years)
Your preteen may …
Be modest, embarrassed about physical changes
Be experiencing hormonal changes, mood swings, and interest in the opposite sex
Be ex seriencing increasing pressures and stress
By this age, children are ready for a full yoga session. You have your child’s attention, and can incorporate all of the foundations of yoga found in this book. With your preteen you will find that the Yoga Principles will become a key part of your yoga sessions, offering a chance to open discussion and connect deeper with your preteen as he faces the challenges unique to this age.
Plan to spend 20 minutes to up to an hour practicing yoga with your older preteen or teen. At this age, you can easily fill an hour with poses and pie” of discussion. Keep a steady pace and add variety to your sessions lots poses, discussion, partner work, and relaxation activities.
Encourage proper alignment. Children at this age are just starting to gra. their bodies and therefore can exhibit clumsiness. If you are a yoga teacher or avid yoga practitioner, don’t be afraid to model proper alignment and encouragingly suggest adjustments to help your child gain more confidence in the postures. Otherwise, learn and experiment together, following the photos and descriptions as your guide, and then move on to the Internet for extra assistance.
Take into account developmental changes. Hormonal changes in preteens can cause unpredictable moods, weepiness, increased sensitivity, negative thinking, as well as an interest in the opposite sex. In addition, your preteen may be starting to challenge your authority and rules, testing boundaries as she experiments with her growing independence. Preteens can also be self-centered. This is all normal and is mostly due to the many changes occurring in the brain during puberty and beyond. Be patient and note that these changes are, to a large extent, out of her control. Strive for positive discussions based on the Yoga Principles. The Yoga Principles can provide a framework for thinking about and processing the many pressures your child faces at this age. Start to observe your child and listen carefully to what she says about her day or experiences as you seek opportunities to open discussion and learn together.
Create a safe, judgment-free space. As with all ages, it is essential to create a safe, judgment-free zone for your preteen. Offer general words of encouragement throughout your yoga session and/or during relaxation. As your child rests with her eyes closed while listening to soft, soothing music, encourage her to be with her feelings, letting them well up from her heart and dissipate out into the safe, compassionate space that surrounds her. This means tears are okay. It’s healthy to feel our feelings! Providing an opportunity for children to release their emotions without judgment or the need to “fix” or “control” is a tremendous gift from a parent to a child.
Remember that preteens like to have fun! After all, yoga is a time to connect and bond, and preteens can sometimes be overly serious and moody. Partner poses are a great way to lighten the mood and be playful!
Invite your preteen to set up an “altar.” Invite your child to set up an altar of items that are important to her or for which she is grateful either in or near the yoga space, or perhaps in her room. She might also like to put up pictures of positive role models such as celebrities or athletes doing yoga this will help gain her “buy-in” to the practice and may appeal to her need to fit in.
Invite friends. Is your child most interested in hanging out with her friends? Invite them to join you! Get a group of preteens doing yoga together at your house and you just might become the coolest parent around.
The Preteen Brain on Yoga
Beginning in the preadolescent years, the development of the frontal lobes of the brain responsible for language lags behind the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotions. It’s no wonder that preteens and teens have a reputation for being emotional and unreasonable at times! Interestingly, researchers are now showing that when children in this age group are able to hone skills that foster self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and interpersonal relationships, they are happier and healthier emotionally and academically. The practice of yoga and mindfulness helps preteens and teens develop these essential skills.