Child cleaning Today it happened…the completely shocking, utterly amazing and all-around baffling thing occurred…my kids cleaned their rooms!  After weeks of begging and pleading with the world’s biggest mess makers, I arrived home today to find two tidy bedrooms down the hall from my own.  

I’m sure Dad had something to do with it.  Or, maybe the luck of the irish struck my house today, a few days ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.  Maybe aliens threatened to abduct my children, scaring them into submission. Or maybe — just maybe, it had something to do with Friday’s yoga class! 

Yoga class?!  Huh?  She must be kidding….I can hear all of you skeptics out there, wondering what in the world a little Warrior pose has to do with kids picking their clothes up off the floor and putting their toys and books away neatly.

You may be surprised, but yoga offers so much more than physical exercise, mediation, relaxation and fun with friends.  By coming to yoga class each week, your child will learn important values, such as discipline, honesty, self-control, gratitude, respect for one’s surroundings, cleanliness, contentment and peacefulness, just to name a few. 

ChildLight Yoga includes kid-friendly yoga philosophy in every class and teaches way to share basic yogic principles in their Teacher Trainings.  Yoga philosophy is not religious, nor does it require a great deal of study.  It's a simple list of "do's and don'ts", and by thinking of the niyamas (do's, or observances) and the yamas (don'ts, or restraints) in this way, a child will begin to contemplate basic values of society.

Our friend Donna Freeman says in her recently published book, Once Upon a Pose: A Guide to Yoga Adventure Stories for Children, "Teaching children these ethics helps them learn respect for themselves and others, as well as an appreciation for the world in which they live."

Your child and his or her yoga friends may not realize it, but by cleaning, rolling and putting away their yoga mats at the end of every class, they are practicing two of the niyamas, or observances, of yoga.    

Saucha is the act of taking care of one's self and environment, and may include getting plenty of sleep, eating nutritiously and keeping your room clean. By cleaning and storing the yoga mat properly, a child learns to value and care for his belongings, and have reverence for the yoga space.

Tapas translates to discipline, or creating healthy habits which are followed with regularity and continuity. By following this yoga rule and being responsible for his or her own mat, a child picks up the routine after only a few weeks.  

As a child continues to practice, he or she will become accustomed to these practices, and will, in turn, be reminded of his or her responsibilities at home.  Keeping a clean room, or regularly contributing to the housework by doing chores, are both ways to practice these yoga principles at home.  These comparisons are perfect for yoga class discussion, and parents are thrilled when they see a difference in their child's personal habits.

Recently, ChildLight Yoga Facebook fans discussed their favorite techniques and resources for including yoga philosophy in their classes and/or at home with their own children. The overwhelming number of responses showed us what an interest there is in using yoga to teach our children important values.  Here is a brief list of children’s books and resources recommended by ChildLight Yoga founder Lisa Flynn and our readers:

  • "The treasure in your heart: Yoga and Stories for Peaceful Children" by Sydney Solis
  • “Zen Shorts” by Jon J. Muth
  • "Peaceful Piggy Meditation" by Kerry Lee MacLean, 
  • "Every Breath a Smile" by Sister Thuc Nghiem
  • “The old Turtle” by Douglas Wood
  • “Unstoppable Me”  by Wayne Dyer
  • “The Earth and I” by Frank Asch
  • “The Colors of Us” by Karen Katz
  • “How Leo Learned to be King” by Marcus Pfister
  • www.gayoyoga.com
  • www.compassionatekids.com
  • www.shantigeneration.wordpress.com

(To follow this and other informative discussions, become a fan on Facebook or follow ChildLight Yoga on Twitter today!)

Have you witnessed a child’s positive change in behavior, habits or values while practicing yoga?  How has your child learned from the "yoga do's and don'ts?"  As always, we love hearing from educators, fellow yoga instructors, parents and friends.   Please share your ideas and questions! — Amy Bevan