How to Get Kids on a Therapeutic Yoga Path

youth kids free yoga bikram hot yoga

At BYCA we have a very strong youth program, with many youth attending weekly now for several years!  You can read about some of our long-term regular youth practitioners here.

At the same time, we have a lot of parents who would like their kids to take up yoga, but who feel stuck.  Lately I had a few people ask me directly ,”How do I get my kids to do yoga?”

Framing “Yoga” Differently

In over 15 years of practice, I have found that the answer lies almost entirely found in how the parent views yoga, how the parent speaks about yoga, and how the parent uses yoga.   Is yoga framed as a hobby, leisure activity, or exercise class?  Or is it used and spoken about as a primary source of physical and mental health care?

As with everything else, our behaviors and priorities are passed on.  Here are some questions to help us see what examples are being set, what mindsets and priorities are being passed on:

Where do you go first for the following issues:

  • mild to moderate depression
  • digestive disorders
  • musculoskeletal pain
  • hormonal or menstrual discomforts
  • anxiety
  • chronic or acute injuries
  • blood sugar imbalances, prediabetes, or diabetes
  • emotional or mood instability
  • autoimmune disorders
  • asthma
  • obsessive tendencies
  • panic attacks

Is yoga your first line of defense (or perhaps offense?!) against chronic issues…with biomedicine used as a later – or last – resort?

Is biomedicine your first line of defense?

Do you use yoga mostly as a side activity, something you do casually to de-stress, something you dabble in because it is supposed to be good for you?

Household and Personal Culture of Healing

Whatever your answers to the above questions are, they perpetuate a certain framework of choices, thoughts, and behaviors that fall under the category of “culture”.   They teach the next generation how yoga is to be understood and used.

In summary: Your household and/or personal culture around yoga, healing, biomedicine, and medications is powerful!

Are you saying I shouldn’t go to the doctor when I am sick?

Absolutely not!  You do not need to discard the very helpful aspects of biomedicine in order to put yoga first for the list of chronic health problems above (and more). 

What is important is that you experience for yourself that there is a particular role for biomedicine to play, in certain situations.  And that there is a much larger-than-expected role for a medical/therapeutic yoga practice to play.

With the great majority of chronic, non-life-threatening health issues, you could say (to yourself or to your child or grandchild): “Before taking medication, let’s try Bikram Yoga 3 times a week for 2 months and see what happens.  It works on these issues for most people, without negative side effects.  And it comes with a bunch of other positive side effects, too.”

How to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Forrest, age 12, has been practicing weekly (at the Thursday evening Youth Class) for the past 3 years. 

In our household, yoga is put in the same category that brushing teeth is in.  It was not framed as a choice any more than brushing his teeth was a choice.  It is not a hobby or “mom’s thing”, it is our main method of preventive medicine – and even healing assistance for many acute issues as well.  He often doesn’t want to go to class, but we go.  And so many good things are happening as a result.

Do you make teeth-brushing optional for your kids?  Or required?  If you require it, what is (or what was) the logic you used to explain why teeth-brushing was something you simply had to do twice a day?

I know that some parents have a hard time with the thought of “making” their kids do yoga.  But if you are someone who “made” your kids brush your teeth, and someone who experiences the therapeutic nature of this yoga practice….you are 95% of the way there!  The last 5% of the puzzle is completing a shift in language and communication.

The most straightforward way to communicate about this yoga practice is to use similar language as you would use when talking about brushing your teeth.  Simply.  Without scolding or negativity.  Just that this is something we do in this house.  This is a part of growing up in a human body and how we take care of it.

And Eventually…..

…your kids will feel it for themselves.  Just like brushing teeth!

You see, once you brush your teeth regularly enough, YOU WANT TO DO IT.  You know how it feels when you don’t, and you know how it feels when you do.  It is simply a matter of training someone into their own understanding and experience of the difference.

On a recent weekend, Forrest’s lower back and neck were feeling noticeably sore when he woke up.  It was 6:45 am on a Sunday (the perfect opportunity to sleep in!), and I was getting ready to teach the 8:00 am class.  He said, “Mom, I want to sleep in, but I was wondering if going to yoga would help my back.”

I responded gently, “Almost definitely….it is worth a try.”  (Although internally I was extremely excited that he was considering it on his own!!!)

He ended up practicing 3 days in a row…because HE WANTED TO.

My heart overflows everytime someone’s mind has made this shift.


If you are interested in attending our Youth Yoga class on Thursday evenings, check out the events page for details, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Thank you to all of our BYCA members for all of your support of humans of all ages and bodies!!  It is a great joy to be with you all and watch the healing process unfold.

Youth Yoga – Celebrating our Kids at BYCA

If you have not yet attended our Thursday evening warm class, you have yet to be part of a special treat.

Since 2016, we have regularly invited youth ages 6 and up to participate in the second half of the traditional Bikram Yoga series, and many have “graduated” to practicing the whole class now.

This month we have a few very special things to celebrate.

One-Year Anniversary

First: our youngest student, Summer, has been practicing regularly since mid-March, 2017.  She started her practice when she was 5 years old!  It is now her one-year anniversary, and she has completed 27 classes.

100-class anniversary

Second: Forrest, age 11, has just completed his 100th class at Bikram Yoga Capital Area!!  (He also did over 100 classes while still in the womb, but we aren’t counting those.)

A Family Affair

Finally: Nadia (8) and Amelia Pauly (12) have been attending weekly with their father, Matt Pauly.  Amelia has started practicing the full class, including the standing series, and Nadia is the youngest person I have worked with who is starting progressions towards full camel posture.  Both young ladies have great focus and a wonderful attitude in their practice!

It is SO COOL to see this family embrace yoga for their own reasons, and so inspiring to think of what is to come.

If you are interested in attending our Youth Yoga class on Thursday evenings, check out the events page for details, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Thank you to all of our BYCA members for all of your support of humans of all ages and bodies!!  It is a great joy to be with you all and watch the healing process unfold.

Live Asana Demonstrations at the USA Yoga Mid West Super Regional Championships

Ann Half Spine Twist Cropped 2017 Mid West Chicago

East Lansing, Michigan – May 25, 2017 –

Three practitioners at Bikram Yoga Capital Area represented the state of Michigan in this year’s USA Yoga MidWest Super Regional Championships in Chicago, IL, this past weekend.

BYCA students Lauren Anastos, Lindsay Gray, and Ann Chrapkiewicz performed their routines with steadiness, focus, and calm.  They all had a very enjoyable, positive experience!  The best possible outcomes for all.  As a group, the three of them did not pressure themselves to “perform” or compete, nor to train beyond their capabilities.

They demonstrated the natural places in their yoga practice, as well as the emotional control needed to breathe normally, in stillness, on a stage, in yoga postures!

Check out their 3-minute, live, championship demonstrations, here:


Lindsay Gray, 40, of East Lansing – 3rd place Michigan

Click here to watch her live Super Regionals demonstration routine.

And here for her thoughtful blog about why she participated.

Lindsay Gray 2017 USA Yoga MidWest - Half Spine Twist

 


Lauren Anastos, 27, of Farmington Hills – 2nd place Michigan

Click here to watch her live Super Regionals demonstration routine.

And here for her inspiring blog about how yoga helps her long-distance running.

2017 Lauren Anastos USA Yoga MidWest Cow Face

 


Ann Chrapkiewicz, 38, of Dearborn and Okemos – 1st place Michigan

Click here to watch her live demonstration routine from the Super Regional event.

2017 Ann Chrapkiewicz USA Yoga MidWest Standing Bow Pulling

Ann received the 3rd highest score in the “Super Region”, and as the 1st place scorer from Michigan, Ann will proceed to the USA Yoga National Championships.

Stay tuned for more information on that event….coming soon!


View the full scoring results for the MidWest Super Regional event here.


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is USA Yoga?

USA Yoga is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and promoting Yoga Asana as a sport.  Rajashree Choudhury founded the organization to inspire youth to cultivate a yoga practice.  USA Yoga is not affiliated with any particular yoga school or tradition and seeks to include practitioners of all hatha yoga backgrounds.

Read more about its purposes and Rules structure here.

Are Asana championships competitive?

In yoga we learn that whatever we bring to a situation determines the nature of how we operate in that situation.  Many people see asana championships as competitive, but this is a limited way of seeing them.   B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the most well-known yogis in the past century, supported asana demonstrations and championships as a way to inspire others to take up a hatha yoga practice (read his letter of support here).  For more on my personal philosophy and the approach of many participants, read here.