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I volunteered with New York Cares yesterday morning at a community center called Hudson Guild in Manhattan. It was two back to back yoga classes for pre-school aged kids, and my job as a volunteer (there was 4 of us) was simply to participate in the class showing the poses and encourage the kids. The team leader on the project led the class is songs, games, and lots and lots of creative animal poses. The experience was in a word: joyful.

I’ve always loved children and have thought a lot about working in early childhood education, and of course after getting my 200-hour teaching certification I figured I’d probably add a kids certification at some point. In the meantime however this was a remarkable experience that I think anyone with an interest in yoga (even if you aren’t interested in teaching) should try. It was so refreshing to see how yoga can be approached and adapted to suit anyone. But my biggest take away was something I think everyone involved with yoga from teachers to students often forgets–how much FUN yoga can be.

So much in classes I (and most people) find myself with a super serious look of concentration on my face–brow scrunched, I’m doing YOGA, I must get this pose RIGHT. In this class we howled in upward-facing dog, said hello to our toes in Uttanasana, sang our OMs and  namastes. In tree and dancer poses when kids started to topple, they reached out to hold on to the person next to them to stay up, smiling the whole time.

Not every kid participated in everything, but the focus that these 3 and 4 year olds demonstrited was still better than most adults–if some one got up and started running around in your next yoga class, would you carry on joyfully with your balancing pose? I was also very impressed with the teacher–so much creativity and quick thinking goes into teaching kids. You know the poses when you teach adults, in this class the teacher went around the room and asked every child what animal they saw, she already had poses for the monkeys, dinosaurs, lions, tigers, etc, but a “spiderman” or “princess” pose? Now that’s some improvisation!

I’ve been a volunteer with New York Cares for over 5 years and have enjoyed every project I’ve participated in (there are over 1,000 projects a month people!!–sooo many fun worthwhile things to do!) Since yoga is now such a big focus in my life I decided to take my volunteering with them a step further and last night I completed my training to be a Team Leader, so soon I’ll be teaching a yoga for kids class!  I’ll keep you updated on where and when my kids yoga class is, so you can sign up to volunteer in my class and bring some joy into your practice.

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