My friend, fellow Yoga teacher and movement inspirer, Nicole Tsong, introduced me to Katy Bowman’s work over the summer, and I’ve been adding more movement into my daily routine and making simple changes towards a movement-based lifestyle (I’m writing this while sitting on the floor) ever since. Conversations with Nicole and Katy’s concepts (I’m obsessed with her podcast), brought me back to my days as an Occupational Therapist working in public education. Part of my role was to create “sensory diets” for children on my caseload who needed a little (or a lot) more or less sensory input during their school day. These “sensory diets” consisted of activities such a taking a walk out of the classroom, jumping on a mini-trampoline, wall push-ups, Yoga poses and breathing exercises. We called them “Movement Breaks.”
Sensory-rich movement is what initially inspired me to share Yoga with children, specifically children with special needs. Yoga provides the “Big 3” when it comes to sensory input: proprioceptive (body sense), vestibular (movement sense) and tactile (touch sense), and if taught using a child-centered approach, Yoga allows children to control how much (or how little) sensory input they receive. This can create a more integrated sensory system, which has the potential to positively impact all aspects of a child’s life. The Next Generation Yoga style of Kids Yoga is all about moving the body in linear and nonlinear ways, creatively and joyfully, on and off the mat, with alignment cues and encouragement to explore what feels best, and with no judgement and often no “corrections.” We emphasize movement and FUN. In this environment and state of being, children are able to tap into stillness, relaxation, meditation, kindness, compassion, mindfulness and self love with ease and enjoyment. So, movement matters A LOT. If you teach Kids Yoga or are considering doing so, don’t be intimidated by the wiggly kids and those who are moving to the beat of their own drum. They’re moving, they’re reaping the benefits of a sensory-rich activity, and most likely, they’re having fun!
Now, I’m going to practice what I’m preaching by getting outside for a walk. In the rain. Just like I did yesterday and will do many, many more times this fall and winter (and probably spring) in Seattle.