PLAY Yoga Teacher Training
Next course……………14-15 March 2015
Interview questions about PLAY yoga………………………………
Below Jo Eng answers some questions about her PLAY Teacher Training experience.
Why did you want to train to teach Yoga to Children?
Before I became a Yoga Teacher, I was a Stay-at-Home Mum to my 4 children. My youngest daughters’ pre-school were asking parents to come into the centre to share with the children a skill or a profession that the children might enjoy learning about. Racking my brains for something that I could offer, I suddenly hit upon the idea of doing some yoga with the kids. I was already attending two local yoga classes a week (for my sanity and ‘me-time’!) and we had a book at home by the popular US yoga teacher Baron Baptiste called ‘My Daddy is a Pretzel’. So, I took in the book, read them the story and did some yoga poses together. To my surprise, the children and teachers loved the yoga session so much that they asked me to come back again to do some more. Eventually, I was coming in once a week, every week, to ‘do yoga’ with the kids. The children, in confusion between the ‘yoga’ they were practising and my name ‘Jo’, started to call me YogiJo. I LOVED these sessions and looked forward to them every week. I loved the children’s enthusiasm for the yoga and it gave me such joy to see their sense of accomplishment and their excitement about ‘doing yogi’, as they would call it!
Did you already have experience as a Yoga teacher?
Prior to bringing yoga to my daughters’ pre-school, I had been attending other peoples’ yoga classes for about 12 years, so yoga was already a significant part of my life. When I had the realisation that teaching yoga to children was something that I loved doing, and could see myself continuing to do, I Googled children’s yoga training courses in New Zealand and discovered that they were pretty thin on the ground! When I finally found the PLAY course offered at Ashram Yoga, I immediately got in touch with the Ashram office to sign myself up. Although I had never previously considered training to be a yoga teacher, I signed up for the Level 1 Teacher Training course as well as the PLAY course, knowing that it would deepen my knowledge and practice of all aspects of yoga.
What did you learn on the course?
Oh my goodness, so much! The PLAY course does not focus so much on postures and how to instruct children in and out of poses, but instead encourages the participants to open up their imagination and re-connect with their inner child. There is a huge emphasis on creative writing, on learning the skills to create a yoga ‘adventure’, weaving yoga postures and pranayama into a story that will engage the children’s sense of fun, creativity and imagination. Storytelling is as old as the oldest culture, but somewhat lost in this modern age of instant entertainment. So, it was an amazing skill to learn how to weave yoga into the art of storytelling.
Is PLAY ‘real’ Yoga?
Absolutely! When writing an ‘adventure’, I still have to consider that I need to move the spine in all six directions; that I counter-pose backbends with forward bends, etc. I still have to be mindful of where the energy is going within the children’s bodies and direct it back up or back down accordingly. A lot of thought is put into the sequencing of the postures themselves, just as it is in an adult yoga class. The actual ‘story’ part is really just a conduit for the yoga.
Is PLAY fun?
So. Much. Fun! You get to re-connect with your inner-child. You get to giggle and be silly. You get to forget about ‘grown-up’ and taking oneself too seriously. You get to just delight in the moment. Every adult needs more of this.
How have you used this training?
I now run my own children’s yoga classes called ‘Little Yogis – Yoga Adventures for Children’. I mostly teach pre-schoolers just because this happens to be my favourite age group to work with as their imaginations are limitless and they don’t tend to question the sometimes illogical things that I ask them to do on their adventures (like ride a surf board to the moon!).
How does this benefit children?
I truly believe that the skills the children learn through ‘playing their yoga’ will last them a lifetime. Learning to breathe and to release emotion and relax the body are tools that, learnt now at age 5, will serve a child well in ten years time when they have to sit exams, or other such stressful situations. I believe that yoga gives children the knowledge and experience on how to handle and process their emotions. I think it teaches them co-operation and selfless behaviour. It’s also non-competitive and non-judgemental, so it’s excellent for building self esteem. And, of course, there are the physical benefits of improved co-ordination and balance, fewer sports related injuries, improved concentration and focus and (every parent’s favourite…) better sleep!!
Why would you recommend people train to PLAY?
Devananda (Dee) is very much a child-at-heart herself. Her enthusiasm and natural playfulness is infectious! Her knowledge and experience of yoga itself is extensive, but the way that she presents the information on this course is so accessible and practical and fun, that you really do leave the course feeling as though you could walk into any room full of children and introduce them to yoga in an engaging and ‘child-friendly’ way.