Creative Kimiyo is on a quest to infuse mindfulness and calmness into every day life at school, one classroom at a time.
During spring 2019, a ten week long Creative Kimiyo school yoga project took place along the Silk Road, south of Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi. Certified kids yoga and yoga teacher and founder of Creative Kimiyo, Miriam Deller, taught a bi-weekly class at Urumqi Silk Road School, open for all grades.
Here, she shares some of her unique insights and the challenges that came with teaching yoga to multiple age levels at the same time in Chinese.
Tell us more about your school yoga project and how it came together.
The school is really progressive for local standards and they were looking to offer more diverse extra-curricular activities for their students. The headmistress was immediately on board when I suggested to her to add yoga for kids and teens. We equipped the school with our eco friendly kids sized cork yoga mats and our cork yoga blocks, and the basics were covered.
Who were your students and how old were they?
The children were between 7 and 14 years old, so it’s quite a broad age range. Participation spiked from a modest 16 attendants the first time to over 40 at the second class. Then the groups were evenly split on two days per week. I taught inclusive yoga since there were children with hearing deficits and developmental delays attending. Each 60 minute class was filled with joy, laughter and lots of fun syncing breath and movement.
Have they done yoga before?
Only one actually, some of them knew yoga but the great majority didn’t practice before or had heard about it. Now they love it, it’s incredible to see how sincere they are in trying out different poses and breathing exercises. Sometimes I mixed a bit of English into the Chinese, so the kids also got exposed to English and some Sanskrit expressions for asanas.
What did you do during a typical class?
We usually started with a round to settle in, using a small singing bowl, carimba or other simple musical instrument that let the kids focus and brought them on a calmer level. Warming up was usually a few minutes of ‘Yogi says' animal yoga or a game of one-legged jumps greeting everyone in the room with Namaste while circling around.
Each class had a distinct theme, for example we took a dive into the chakras with a focus on heart opening asanas. I brought a beautiful scroll with me that depicts the chakras and let the kids explore the notion of invisible energy centres in their body.
During our ‘give it all’ phase, the older kids chose to try longer holds and more challenging versions of poses so they didn't get bored. Working their balance is a lot of fun, and also rewarding when there is some progress over time.
Creative Kimiyo approaches kids yoga always including a creative component, wether a class, workshop or retreat. In one of the classes, going along with the theme, we will fold heart origamis. A calming creative activity that picks up some of the things we did or wer mentioned in class is such a great way to end the unit. Kids of all ages love to do something creative and best of all, there is something they can take home after.
Get your own Origami-how-to and more free, fun activity sheets from our resource library!
Which became the kids favourite asana?
They loved forming a tree circle, it definitely became their favourite partner pose.
And probably ‘wolf’: that is a downward dog with a thorough howling sound that often time lifts its leg for a quick pee. The kids found it hilarious, and the teenagers definitely go along with it.
Thank you for sharing some insights into yoga for kids and teens taught at a Chinese school, we can’t wait to hear what is next on your agenda!
Grateful to have the opportunity to share!
Get in touch with certified meditation and yoga teacher Miriam Deller to learn more about her class,- workshop,- and retreat schedule and booking opportunities for kids and teens yoga yoga(at)creativekimiyo.com
Also if you haven’t already, get your hands on our free activity sheets, available from our resource library!