“Meet kids where they’re at.”

You have probably heard this or even said it before. I know have.

As I walked into my weekly PreK/Preschool yoga class, the assistant teacher told me that the lead teacher was out sick and that she was pretty sure something was going around the classroom. The kids seemed fatigued, dazed, and several were saying they didn’t feel well. A little girl approached me with bright red cheeks and the assistant teacher checked her temperature. Sure enough, she was off to the nurse with a fever.

The rest of us gathered in our usual spot on the colorful rug in the classroom and as I looked around, I was met with tired eyes and unsmiling faces. This was very different from the usual smiling, chatting, energetic kids I usually see every Thursday afternoon. I asked the group to raise a hand if they didn’t feel well and most of them did. To assess how to best meet their needs in the moment, I asked if they wanted to do their favorite song with movement and they shared a resounding, “NO!” So, I put away my lesson plan about the Solar Eclipse and moved onto Plan C.

Yes, I said Plan C. I have visited Plan B many times. That one is reserved for times when the students are extra energetic due to any myriad of factors so they need some high energy activities like Freeze Dance (which they love!). But this was an entirely different and new scenario. I found myself working out Plan C in the moment.

Plan C focused on breath and rest. When we are sick or overtired, deep breathing and rest are vitally important for proper healing. We did chime listening and belly breathing with the breathing ball. We practiced “Reach for the Sun Breath” in honor of the Eclipse. We did a little bit of tapping (EFT). After retrieving their blankets and breathing buddies they returned to the rug for some extended, cozy rest time. We listened to three peaceful songs while they rested, practiced star breath, or gave themselves a hug and crossed their ankles to self-regulate. These are practices that we have explored throughout the year and that familiarity was helpful for increasing comfort. The students were invited to do what was best for them in that moment. And they rested. They rested longer than they ever have in yoga class. Three of them fell asleep even though naptime had only ended a little while ago.

To finish rest time, we watched the glitter bottle, practiced big moon breaths, and read a book that I pulled at the last minute from the school’s bookshelf, How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?“.

I was ready to end there, but was reminded that we needed to say “our special goodbye.” So, we ended with our usual:

May there be peace in my thoughts.
May there be peace in my words.
May there be peace in my heart.

Was this yoga? Does this count as a yoga class?
100% YES!

This on-the-spot, special, rest-filled class was yoga and was a great reminder that when we meet kids (and all people!) where they are, we are teaching them to listen to themselves and their bodies. We are teaching them HOW to care for their bodies, minds, and breaths and that is what yoga is all about.

Written by ChildLight Trainer, Colleen Smith