Teaching children yoga for a decade was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My young students taught me much about the power of simplicity, the art of patience, and the joy that is possible when we truly surrender to the moment.
They helped me learn these things because in order to teach yoga to kids I had to meet them where they were. This often often meant letting go of my plan, releasing to what was present, and listening deeply to their needs.
Pretty early on in my yoga teaching career I also learned that children live in a world of play, therefore lesson plans which incorporated games were most effective; so I began creating yoga games!
In this post I share how a fun kids practice using chattra props to support the kids in your life through a Klesha Course; it's one of the most popular games I created.
What are Kleshas?
The term klesha is introduced in Sutra II.2 and translates from Sankrit to mean obstacle. Specifically in the context of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, kleshas refer to the obstacles on the path toward samadhi - ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred and clinging to bodily life.
Playing Klesha Course is a fun and engaging (and subtle) way to teach children that the things we learn in yoga are tools that help us overcome obstacles throughout life. It is also be a great way to playfully introduce some of the deeper philosophical teachings found in the Yoga Sutras.
Have your young students
- select a few chattra bolsters and line them up with a fair amount of space between each to build an obstacle course. Place a chattra Kids Zafu Meditation Cushion on top of a chattra Kids Zabuton Meditation Cushion at the very end of the course.
- Create cards of various asanas (stick figures are an easy and effective way to create asana images...you can even have the kids do this!) and place near each bolster as a guide for what pose to practice at each obstacle. For example, if a round bolster is lying horizontally, triangle pose is a great asana for crossing over the bolster.
- When the course is set up, start at the beginning in Tadasana (mountain pose), then advance toward each bolster, completing each identified asana to overcome each obstacle.
- At the end, have kids sit in criss-cross apple sauce (aka Sukhasana) on chattra kids Zafu and Zabuton Meditation Cushions.
- Instruct them to take 5 deep breaths, encouraging them to focus only on the sound and feeling of each breath as it moves in and out of the body. Also encourage kids to keep count of their breaths by folding a finger down with each breath taken, creating a seed-fist when having completed 5 breaths. If you’d like to do another round of breathing, ask the kids to open their hands like a blossoming flower, then take 5 more breaths to return to seed-fist.
about chattra blogger Jillian Bobowicz
Jillian is a yogini based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She leads weekly public yoga classes for adults and specializes in yoga for kids and families. Her studies have led her to complete trainings at YogaWorks, Karma Kids and Yoga Playgrounds. Jillian feels blessed to practice and teach yoga and is particularly passionate about empowering her students with tools to navigate the modern world with ease.