(1) Give up on “perfect” form
This is where adult and children’s classes differ greatly. Apart from positions that may be unsafe (e.g. tree pose, where the raised foot must be above or below the knee to avoid injury) be flexible about how a child makes each yoga pose. Does it really matter if it isn’t right? Constant adjustment is the fastest way to make yoga classes uncomfortable for a child.
(2) Allow the child to teach
Step back and have the child show you what they know. You’ll get to see their learning first hand, with a front row ticket to what they have understood and which skills still need to be developed. This will not only showcase their knowledge to you, it will also give the child a confidence boost like no other. (NB: Don’t interrupt as they teach – see above point)
(3) Vary your practice
If yoga is exactly the same every week, it will soon become boring and too easy for the child. Meet them at their level, and give them a colorful variety of experiences.
(4) Keep the start and end predictable
While providing variation is essential, keeping some things predictable will help the child know what to expect. When people know what to expect, they can spend their energy on the task rather than anxiety.
(5) Be extra vigilant with encouragement
Even if the lesson is a total train wreck, encourage the child on their tiniest successes. If they listen to an instruction, give a big reaction and say thank you! If they try to make a pose and fail, congratulate them and ask them to try again. It takes a moment of your time to notice a child’s effort, and it means the world to them that you said something.