Written by Radha Rani Bradley - Co-founder of Akhanda Yoga Australia
We all have our first memories of yoga. Mine were at drama school studying to be an actress. There the focus was to literally oil the body so that it was a flexible and stronger machine to malleably transform into a multitude of different characters. At the time it was the only light in the excruciating dark tunnel of all the other forms of exercise we were doing. I had a congenital issue with my knees where my patella would displace at will and especially during times of high activity such as movement classes. It was incredibly painful and I felt embarrassed every time I couldn't do all the things the others could. I also had to hide the issue as much as possible as there is no room for any problems like these in drama school, if you couldn’t do it, regardless of the reason you didn’t make the cut. So quite simply they ask you to leave.
Once I left drama school, I actively sought out yoga and when I went through knee reconstruction on both knees, yoga was the only form of exercise that I could do. I was amazed at how the mind body connection is so important and integral to the emotions we experience. Not only was I suffering physically but I was depressed and had begun a destructive relationship with my body. There was simply no love there. Yoga turned this around, through yoga I healed not only my body but my mind and heart.
Now as a mother, I see my children exploring their bodies. Even though they have perfectly healthy bodies, there are still things they are not able to do yet as their physical bodies and minds are still forging connections. It becomes even more apparent to me how important yoga can be to the young. Through play and exploration they strengthen the neural pathways that will set them up for life.
If we get it right now how much more balanced, how much happier, how much more able to deal with any situation – physical or emotional, will our children be?
There is no end to the good that can be done through children experiencing yoga. Even down to learning how to calm their body by connecting with their breath and so calm their minds improving focus, concentration and learning. As well as being more centred in themselves and enhancing positive social behaviours.
Having been a children’s entertainer for the same length of time as an actress (the two quite often seem to go hand in hand), I have experienced children in a high velocity setting. Calming 20 or so children down so that they can focus on what's going on, drawing them in with physical story telling and interactive games I often used yoga teaching techniques and the skeleton of a yoga practice, to achieve a wonderfully fun and harmonious group. It is so incredible now to be able to use these skills to teach others the joy of kids yoga. Included in this teacher training are all the tools I use to bring children together in a joyful and creative yoga practice appropriate for all ages. Each age group requires a different focus and the benefits are incredible throughout all ages.
I was just 11 years old when my knees began dislocating and the pain and embarrassment I felt was acute. The relationship I had with my body was one of disconnection and fear. I couldn’t trust myself to do anything and my physical confidence suffered terribly also affecting my emotional confidence. The pain I experienced and the knee issues I had would have been so greatly improved with yoga, I think back to that time and wish I had had yoga in my life at that stage. I am so grateful to have found it now and be able to offer this gift to other children.
If you work with children or are a yoga teacher wishing to work with children, then come and do our three day Mindful Seeds Kids Yoga Teacher Training in November. The skills you will acquire will last a lifetime and the difference you will make to the lives of children, limitless.
Play, Create, Move and plant Mindful Seeds.