Written By A Wild Dove | Photographed by Eric White | Styled By Lynn Levoy
As adults, we all often crave yoga - whether for exercise, circulation or taking a pause in our everyday lives. But what about children? Surely they too can benefit from the practice in ways we may have never imagined.
Except Eda Ozmen did. She has been teaching yoga to children for the last few years after realizing that her passion for the practice and teaching kids could be united. Eda first got her 200-hour teaching training at Down Dog Yoga in DC and immediately knew she wanted to share the practice with kids. She then attended a children's teacher training through a non profit program in Washington DC called YoKids before moving to New York. Now she is at one of our favorite yoga studios, the newly expanded Lyons Den Power Yoga, where she started the Power Cubs program last year with children ages 2-12 years old. Eda also is a certified corporate wellness specialist, bringing mindful and well being practices to the workplace.
We sat down with Eda to get the lowdown on downward dogging with the mini-set.
What do the children experience in the Power Cubs program?
At the Lyons Den, we teach kids the importance of developing healthy habits, how to pay attention and focus, as well as, to have compassion for themselves and others.
Power Cubs teaches the tools and principles of yoga in a way that is fun and accessible to children. We cultivate each student’s awareness of thoughts, emotions, body sensations, the surrounding environment and kindness to others.
Why is yoga so important and beneficial for kids?
The practices of yoga and mindfulness offer rich experiences that can profoundly impact the lives of young people by redirecting their energy in a positive way. Yoga provides a set of tools to cultivate a wide variety of experiences in mind-body awareness, self-regulation and physical fitness. Yoga at an early age creates positive health implications into adulthood, like strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, focus, concentration, discipline, creativity, teamwork and a deeper connection to self and others.
What's the the best part about teaching kids?
The best part about teaching kids is experiencing how present and engaged they can be. I see that kids are more in tune with their feelings and emotions while practicing yoga (especially when I see them completely still in final resting pose), which has given me a whole new outlook on my own yoga practice.
What does teaching children teach you?
Teaching children is a lot harder than I imagined, but also extremely rewarding!
I have definitely learned to be more patient and mindful in my own actions and attention overall. Teaching them has taught me to practice without judgement, be present in the moment, not take life so seriously, and most importantly...to have fun!
The kids challenge me at times, but they’re also able to bring out the best in me.
Can you tell us about the philosophy behind Little Flowers 5 Elements?
In each class, I use the teaching model from Little Flowers 5 Elements of Yoga and Mindfulness: Connect, Breath, Move, Focus and Relax.
We play games, do coordination exercises and different activities that focus on the 5 elements below -
Connect activities foster connections for children internally and externally. They help students make sense of their own emotional experiences and also ground them in an awareness of their environment and the needs of others.
The breath is one of our most powerful tools for self determination, and teaching children that they have some control over their own emotional and energetic state is an empowering lesson.
Gaining control of the breath in a safe way can be extremely beneficial in helping children regulate their emotions and energy level.
Yoga poses may be used in a variety of ways as tools to channel student's energy, improve their health, build their confidence and for many other purposes. A central tenet of our program is that no child will ever be forced or pressured into any posture that they feel uncomfortable with for any reason. The emphasis in our movement practice is on exploration, not competition.
Children are often asked to focus and rarely taught how.
Our focus activities are designed to allow children the capacity to experiment with what it means to focus and repeated practice noticing when their mind wanders and bringing it back to the task at hand.
All students of any age will benefit from learning to relax and restore. Our children are exposed to an overwhelming amount of sensory stimulation, chronically sleep deprived and generally have no idea how to calm themselves down. Relax activities provide the opportunity to rest both the body and the mind.
Eda's Vest & Leggings by Outdoor Voices
Callum's Vest & Shorts by The Animals Observatory