In 2016 I was contacted by a friend looking for yoga classes for her daughter, age 9. I told her I would do some research and recommend a location for children’s classes. I spent an hour on my computer searching local yoga studios and YMCAs for children’s yoga classes. My search came up empty. I was aware of Childlight Yoga from advertisements in Yoga Living. I was baffled. How is it possible NO ONE was offering yoga for children? I immediately found ChildLight’s website and signed up for my first training. The universe brought it all together for me that day. My friend’s phone call, my research, and Childlight Yoga offering training 45 minutes from my house all within 1 month!
Why are you interested in yoga and mindfulness for children?
I am a mother of two sons ages 12 and 9. I have been practicing yoga for over 16 years and teaching adults for 14 years. I realize the benefits yoga offers to me as well as my students. Prior to my training with Childlight Yoga, I taught poses to my sons and they enjoyed it. I encouraged breathing techniques when they were upset. As a mother, I want to help my sons to the best of my abilities to help them learn, grow and prosper in life. Yoga is another tool to teach and share with them, just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic, so why not share it with children in our community? Yoga does not have age limits. I believe if children are exposed to yoga it’s another valuable resource for them. Yoga can grow with them and be a constant in their ever changing lives.
Can you tell us about your overall training experience with ChildLight Yoga? Any special details you wish to share?
Childlight Yoga has the most amazing passionate and caring instructors on their staff. Every training session I attended was packed full of well thought out and presented information. The instructors are thorough and supportive, answering every question and providing additional resources. There is an instant feel of family and support from attendees as friendships and bonds are made. I found it so interesting and fun to play the role of a child (preschool through teen). I found playing the role of a child of any age provided great insight into how they think, feel and react. It certainly has helped me to better prepare and plan a class lesson.
How are you applying what you learned with your community? What are you passionate about sharing?
This past school year I found parents were looking for ways for their children to either 1. improve focus, or 2. better manage anxiety. I used this information in forming my class plans. I taught several different breathing practices. We used breath to ground and center. We used the power of breath to get through challenging poses. I incorporated mudras with breath. It was my intention to show how breath we use in yoga can be utilized outside the studio at any time it’s needed.
What do you find to be the most beneficial yoga and mindfulness tools for the population that you work with these days?
It may sound basic but get to know your students. I greet little ones at the door kneeling, so I’m able to be eye level with them. For my pre-teen class we spend the first few minutes of class chatting, as I find out about their day. Every child will have a favorite pose or activity. In some lesson plans, I make time for children to request their favorites. This builds connection to the class and class community and a feeling of importance. Depending on the class I will allow the child to lead the pose or activity.
Can you describe for us the most rewarding moment that you've had so far in your kid's yoga teaching journey?
Until two years ago, I didn’t realize the magnitude of stress kids are under from school. It was time for PSSA testing within the school district. My son came home miserable and tired. I decided to make the yoga classes for those two weeks restorative. I dimmed lights, used lavender oil in the diffuser, played soft calming music and provided plenty of props and time to chill. The visible difference in body language at the end of each class was incredible. After the first class some kids requested more restorative classes. It warmed my heart to know I provided them a safe, secure place to rest their minds and bodies, providing them what they need most.
Tina Siegfried, RYT-500, ERYT-200, RCYT,owns TMS Yoga Studios located in Dublin PA. TMS Yoga started with the dreams and inspirations of helping others. Tina desires to make yoga accessible to everyone. TMS currently offer classes for preschoolers, teens and adults. Tina started teaching yoga to adults in 2005, teaching from teens to seniors of all levels. In 2016, she started offering classes to children ages 2-10 after completing her first ChildLight Yoga certification. Tina has volunteered for clients of A Women’s Place, the only domestic violence organization in Bucks County, PA. She has been blessed to offer free community youth yoga classes several times a year in her studio as well as her son’s elementary school. When not teaching yoga, Tina’s time is spent with her family of two sons and husband.