Cari Rowlands (MMY Ynys Môn/ Anglesey)

I personally got into yoga more during the first lockdown where I had more time to practise and learn about its advantages. Following this, I started creating a social media platform to share yoga practises with others with the same interest which gradually built into and aspired into the idea of teaching yoga for children.

After researching into the different platforms which offer training for teaching children yoga, I realised that MMY was best suited for me as I instantly liked and related to their way of sharing yoga in a fun and enjoyable way for both children and families. I really liked that MMY offered a variety of courses including meditation and foundation movements which were available for children, parents, teachers and practitioners. Following this, I instantly wanted to find out more and was connected to Vicki.

Though it may seem that online sessions can be technical and difficult, when everything is working, it works great! All my sessions with Vicki were very successful and it was great and easy to be able to receive all the training via Zoom. Starting with the foundation course, I instantly enjoyed all the ideas and suggestions which were a part of the 15 minute programme. Vicki introduced the course in a clear and effective way, especially as I got to practise each step and movement ‘as the child’. This helped me realise how the course would feel for the children or parents receiving the information.

This made the choice of completing the Ambassadors course easy as I wanted to be part of the team and share their fun and simple yoga practises with others!

I was lucky to trial the Mini Me Yoga movement cards with children of the school I worked in. This was a great way to take the online yoga sessions further with children and the cards were an effective way to introduce new movements, positive affirmations and chance to sequence poses.

I realised that having the cards helped the children remember the poses better and gave them the opportunity to sequence poses together independently (especially the younger children). This way, I was able to step back and watch the children experiment with different poses and movements in their own way. Some even felt confident enough to share their own flow with their classmates by referring to the movements as they went along. Additionally, the choices of different breathing techniques helped introduce different ways for children to think and treat their breath. This worked well especially when working with the schools theme work. Trampoline belly is a personal favourite to introduce yoga to little children as they enjoy using their favourite toys to balance on their bodies.

When I first introduced yoga to the children of the school in September, most of the children hadn’t heard of it or typically connected it to a ‘women’s sport’. Many of the older boys had a negative attitude towards practising yoga thinking it wasn’t the ‘cool’ thing to do. However, after a few weeks bringing yoga into the classroom as a daily/ weekly practise, the children
began to enjoy yoga as an opportunity to stretch the body and experiment with different movements. This gradually became a common activity within the school and the children, especially the boys’ attitudes started to change as yoga became another way to learn.

Normally, I would have difficulties settling a classroom full of excited children at the start of the day or after a play time/ gym lesson etc. Presently, I use some of the Mini Me Yoga techniques such as the ‘Shake out’ or breathing practises to get the children to direct their focus to the breath and body. This particularly works well with the most challenging behaviour in the classroom as these techniques gets all the children to do one thing at a time and settle in. The poses are also a great way to share how someone is feeling as the children get to do the pose that represents the way they are feeling that day. This has become an important practise within the classroom as I, and the classroom assistant can listen to how the children are feeling this day. From doing this regularly, I have realised that the children are more open to share how they are feeling and appreciate their emotions.

Equally, the meditation practise has helped us slow down at the end of the day and by now the children are requesting ‘time to colour’ mandalas as a way to end their school day.

Personally, I believe that incorporating Mini Me Yoga techniques into everyday teaching has developed the children’s attitude towards yoga, but also their breath and body, to be a positive one. By now, most of the children (even the boys who didn’t want to do yoga to begin with) are more open to try different things within yoga but also with new experiences in general. It is hard to say if Yoga has had an effect on attendance during the lockdown period.

However, the yoga online sessions always attracted many of the children compared to the ‘normal’ school online lesson. I’m glad that I was able to continue yoga sessions online through Mini Me Yoga techniques and am now looking forward to continuing the journey within the classroom and as my own business.

Cari Rowlands (MMY Ynys Môn/ Anglesey)