New Standards for Teaching Yoga to Children

29 Oct 2015

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Children's Yoga Standards

GUEST POST: Robyn Lewis

Yoga is taught to children up to 18 years of age across Australia in childcare centres, schools, yoga studios and community facilities. These classes are popular with participants, parents and teachers who are searching for an activity to support the physical and mental wellbeing of children.

Yoga teachers working with children are facing new challenges as well as new opportunities due to the growing interest in yoga for children; the increasing challenges for children living busy and high-pressure lives and the growing scrutiny of programs for children.

Parents, teachers and the broader community expect that all yoga classes for children are developmentally appropriate, evidence-based, inclusive, safe and that they provide strategies for children to address a range of issues that they may be dealing with. These include physical, mental, social and emotional challenges.

When taught well, yoga classes for children can help participants to deal with issues caused by the demands and pressure of daily life and provide valuable tools to assist children to navigate their individual growth and development into adulthood. These experiences can be profound and very powerful, building confidence, awareness and improving self-esteem.

It is essential that yoga teachers understand the ages and stages of child development, so they can provide appropriate and differentiated learning experiences. Qualified and experienced children’s yoga teachers are aware that teaching yoga to children requires a different approach to teaching adult groups. These teachers also know that yoga programs for young people are more than games and stories.

Since 2013, Yoga Australia has led the development of consistent standards for yoga teachers who work with children in Australia. A committee of yoga teachers was established with representation from children’s yoga teachers, providers of post graduate courses for children’s yoga, researchers, school educators and policy developers.

The committee has reviewed national and international research in the field of yoga and children, and has conducted a survey of yoga teachers registered with Yoga Australia. This work has informed Yoga Australia about the state of children’s yoga both in Australia and around the globe. The committee is currently exploring opportunities for additional research projects in Australia to continue to build the evidence base for this growing area of interest.

As teaching yoga to children is an important and growing field with significant risks if not delivered to the highest level, Yoga Australia has developed the following new standards:

  • The post graduate registration of children’s yoga teachers;
  • The registration of training programs for children’s yoga teachers; and
  • Continuous professional development of children’s yoga teachers.

These standards support the safe provision of high quality yoga to children in school, studio and community settings across the country. The registration of a Yoga Australia Children’s Yoga Teacher guarantees that the teacher is qualified, has undertaken specific post graduate training, is undertaking relevant continuous professional development, has a current first certificate and holds a current “working with vulnerable people” registration.

The communication of these new standards to schools, education systems and the community will create vital awareness of the need to choose a yoga teacher who holds a current registration as a Yoga Australia Children’s Yoga Teacher.

The first six Yoga Australia yoga teachers with post graduate registration as children’s yoga teachers are:

  • Loraine Rushton (NSW);
  • Stephanie Jane Atkinson (NSW);
  • Trish David (QLD);
  • Natja Wunsch (VIC);
  • Trevor Walsh (VIC);
  • Kathy Gaudiosi (NSW);
  • Chika Yamawaki (NSW);
  • Molly Furzer (NSW);
  • Belinda Blackburn (VIC);
  • Lewanna Janine Newman (WA); and
  • Deborah Roberts (VIC).

These yoga teachers will be recognised as registered children’s yoga teachers on the new Yoga Australia website and have been provided with a new logo to use on their website and on documentation related to their business. The identification of children’s yoga teachers will increase opportunities for exposure, business linkages and professional support.

Other yoga teachers, who have completed a post-graduate course for teaching yoga to children, are invited to contact the office for information about applying.

There are currently three post-graduate courses registered with Yoga Australia available to qualified yoga teachers. These are:

  • Zenergy Yoga;
  • Angel Kids; and
  • Flying Yogis.

Yoga Australia is inviting other providers of post-graduate courses for the accreditation of teaching yoga to children. Please contact the office to find out more or apply.

Find Out More

Robyn Lewis is the Yoga Australia National Committee member for ACT. Robyn has taught and coached movement to adults, children and athletes for many years as a gym instructor, PE teacher and representative netball coach. In 2011 she completed her formal teacher training in Vinyasa Flow (Trinity) and Chair Yoga (Knoff) teacher training. Robyn went on to complete studies in Core Yoga and Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy. Today she splits her working days between her yoga business and her role as senior manager in the ACT Government.

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