This DVD is a production of Yoga Calm, an educational method developed in 2002. Founded by school counselor Lynea Gillen and her husband Jim Gillen, Yoga Calm blends the physical, meditative, and mindful aspects of yoga with social skills and counseling techniques. In Kids Teach Yoga, Flying Eagle, one of Lynea's students, Haley, leads a class of other children through a short, interactive, and accessible yoga session.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers the following options:
- Yoga Class
- About Eagles: a brief (1 minute) narration by Steve Engel of the Audubon Society featuring footage of eagles in the wild
- About Yoga Calm: a short (4 minutes) interview segment with founders Lynea and Jim Gillen
- Focusing Fun: another short (5 minutes) segment featuring psychologist Jeff Sosne, Ph.D., engaging in a ball activity with the children to enhance social and focus skills
The yoga class is taught in an outdoor garden setting. Haley (reported as 12 years old on Amazon.com), has her mat placed at the front of a group of seven other children, who appear to range in age from approximately 8 to 11 (the DVD case recommends an age range of 4 to 11). The first five minutes of the practice involves warm-ups seated on the mat. Haley starts with what she calls a "breathing ball"--this is an expanding toy sphere which is used to mimic the in-out nature of the breath. First, Haley leads the breathing as one of her students counts, then she takes over the counting and allows a student to lead. She follows up with a second breathing exercise, belly breathing, where she instructs the class to lie on their backs and to use small rocks on their bellies to feel the motion of their breath. Remaining on their backs, the group performs leg circles--with Haley incorporating metaphors such as "draw the sun"--and then rolls up and down a few times, coming to a modified boat hold. The seated segment concludes with additional breathwork and sending out "warm thoughts," as Haley encourages the children to think of a favorite pet or special person.
The standing work begins with a partner exercise. Haley instructors her students to give each other a gentle push, first with the feet together, then apart, standing strong, like a mountain. Following this, she leads the group in a series of sun salutations, showing how to modify each of the postures but also adding side plank to the end of the flow. The group then moves away from their mats for an exercise called the tree circle: with legs in tree pose, they hold hands to form swaying trees. Remaining in the circle, they perform eagle pose and move into "flying," or warrior 3 with clasped hands. To conclude the balance work, Haley brings the students back to their mats for tree pose, which they hold for 10 seconds on each side, and "eagle story," which is a short vinyasa moving through several different postures as the eagle leaves the nest seeking fish.
With approximately 3.5 minutes left to the practice, Haley announces that it's time to start cooling down. She has the students come down to their backs for a lying twist. After this, she gives them a few seconds to get comfortable however they would like to prepare for the final story. This relaxation sequence involves Haley leading the students through a visualization of eagles in the Grand Canyon and one of the students, Rylie, singing her brief "Eagle in the Sky" invocation, with the total practice time being approximately 18.5 minutes.
Haley is impressively poised for her young age. Not only does she lead the class with confident authority, but also throughout the practice, she compliments her participants and encourages them to pay compliments to each other as well. The students participating are of different sizes, races (the DVD case notes that Rylie is Native American), and levels of ability. I have no question that this yoga class would appeal to children, although I believe that the age range on the DVD starts a bit too low; I'm not sure that the session would hold a four-year-old's attention. For slightly older kids, however, especially in a small group setting such as a classroom, this DVD would be an ideal tool for fun, flexibility, and focus.
© 2011 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.