I started giving yoga classes this year and so observing children's yoga class at the institute was of real interest to me. They had two 45-minute classes last Sunday, one for older and the second for younger children.
Although both classes started the same way, with a really non-yogic warm-up (running with the knees up, jumping higher and higher, lifting one leg straight and kicking your own hand with the foot, etc.) the rest of the classes were really different.
The older ones had to do just a few poses and then the majority of the time was spent on practicing handstand and headstand. It was reassuring to see that it's not just adults struggling with these poses. It turned out that they had to practice theses inversions as there will be a performance where the best students can show their yoga practice and these two poses will definitely be part of it. It was very interesting that when they went up into headstand, they had to fall and roll over even if they could hold the pose. This is something we, adult practitioners should also practice more, if the fear factor is taken out of the pose, everybody would be able to practice in the middle of the room, not afraid of toppling over. (But I accept that it's still easier to learn it at the age of 8 than at 45, let's say.)
The second class was a real pleasure, though it must have been very tiring for the teacher (a child herself, I would say, or a very young adult, in any case). They were jumping up and down all the time, not just doing Surya Namaskara (the Sun Salutation sequence) but connecting sitting asanas with standing and squatting and lying ones. In any possible variation and at an amazing speed.
Once everybody got tired after a good 35 minutes, they had to sit down (in a certain way that is also a pose) and could listen to a story. Before the story was told, they had to repeat in group what they had learnt about yoga philosophy during earlier classes. The story also illustrated something related to yoga and was about the love between a Hindu god and a young girl, but the children were listening almost with their mouth open.
But what really strucks me is the presence of children at the institute. Younger teachers (especially members of the Iyengar family) bring along their children to the self-practice and other people come to remedial classes with their offsprings as well. (Today even a little girl came to the remedial class as a participant, but I don't know what she was treated with.) Naturally, these small kids, ranging from three to five years of age, imitate the adults, they go and try to do headstand or use the headstand ropes as swings. But the best part is when their parents try practicing and they get tired of arranging the props in neat rows and so start bugging their dad or mum. They climb on their backs and start stamping their feet on it or use them as horses while the parent is trying to do Dhanurasana (a backward bend in a position when one is lying on his stomach).
These children won't have the choice but have to continue the tradition of yoga practice in the family and it's good to know that thus the thread of yogic knowledge will not break here.