By Craig Hanauer E-RYT 500 RCYT
If movement is a child’s first language then music is her second. Visit any good preschool or kindergarten class and there is a song for everything from cleaning-up to preparing to go home. This is because young children are much more likely to process language communicated to them via song. Unlike speech, music is processed at all levels of the brain; at the brain stem it affects arousal levels and through the limbic system it has a powerful impact upon emotions. It is in the cortex that it is understood on an intellectual level.
Yoga class provides many opportunities for singing and moving to music, and the benefits of these activities abound. Children can be implicitly guided through a yoga sequence coordinated to kid friendly music, and explicit directions can be communicated via song. Rhythmic movements tend to be organizing, and singing supports expressive language and literacy. Different frequencies resonate in different parts of the body, so chanting mantra stimulates the body’s energy centers/chakras.
Another benefit of singing is that it is the perfect way to prompt young children to breath. Sheila Frick OT in her manual on building core strength describes the twofold recipe for increasing postural support; simultaneously engaging the core muscles closest to the bone while taking deep inhalations followed by long controlled exhalations. This is exactly what singing entails. If you can get your students to hold Boat Pose while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” you are serving them well.
Craig Hanauer is a Kripalu trained Yoga Alliance Registered “Experienced” 500-Hour Children’s Yoga Teacher. He is also certified in New York State as a Creative Arts Therapist, a School Teacher and a School Building Leader. Committed to the health and wellbeing of children, Craig has developed “Every Kid’s Yoga”, a unique and successful program for children with varied abilities and needs that integrates the creative arts, yoga, and play. He specializes in training yoga teachers, educators, therapists and parents in this therapeutic and fun-filled approach to working with kids. Craig continues to work directly with young people in a variety of settings such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Preschool at 3rd Street Music Settlement, and Satellite Academy a NYC Department of Education Alternative High School. Craig recently founded The Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Collaborative, a Yoga Alliance Approved 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training school.
You can read more about Craig and his programs by visiting his websites and Facebook page.