Bring children back to nature

Emma Lawrence explains how Seasonal Yoga takes inspiration from nature to promote healthier, stress-free living

Children live in a very fast-paced world; one with an ever-rising dependency on technology. Fortunately, the more negative aspects of modern living can be countered with education. By giving our children the tools for physical, mental and emotional awareness, we can help them to lead happier lives.

Yoga affords younger practitioners many benefits, including the chance to exercise, play, and connect more deeply with the inner self. It enhances flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. But the psychological perks are just as valuable. Yoga helps concentration, calmness and relaxation improve, making it a useful tool when dealing with stressful situations. The skills it teaches are especially valuable when children move into their teenage years and, later, adulthood.

I teach yoga for all ages and abilities in the Cotswolds (including parents with their six-week-old babies, and the older generation, who benefit from chair yoga). When I teach the Club Morgan curriculum to primary-age children, we often focus on the seasons and the lessons we can learn from them.

Nature gives us a toolbox of integrated health and exercise systems for body, mind and spirit to share with children and young people. By introducing these concepts as fun activities for children, it means that we are giving them a strong personal foundation and the best possible start in life.

Childhood is a vibrant time, full of energy and creativity. Young eyes and minds are open to the world and learning can be fun. However, the tendency of our fast-paced society is to rush children into adulthood. In our desire for them to succeed, we pack their schedules and leave little time for family and play.

Teachers and parents can feel inadequate or under stress in this social climate and its demands. Energy that is suppressed or repressed in a child will always find an alternative way to express itself, and if blocked or misunderstood, can often take the form of a negative or inappropriate action or behaviour.

Exploring natures cycles gives children constructive ways to address all areas of life - from exercise to food, from social interaction to self-awareness.

Spring Energy: A time when children need to stretch muscles, move, grow, be motivated and creative. Spring embodies the insistence of new life, the ability to have vision and make plans. It is time to build strong foundations, keep focused, flexible and grounded. 

Summer brings sun and energy into our lives. Watch out for children becoming aloof or cut-off, or being happy to spend hours alone on the computer without any social interaction. Use the energy we associate with summer to melt away reclusive tendencies.

Autumn is the ideal time for re-evaluating what we see as worthy and meaningful in our lives. Children can be guided to letting go of negative ways of thinking, feeling and of behaving. By working on the importance of the breath and clarity of mind, a pathway to inner peace opens. Synchronised breath and movement and open and closing postures can help to clear cluttered and overloaded young minds.

Winter is a time to restore, rest and re-charge. Help children learn to be still by using the power of imagination - so easily lost in these media-saturated days. Include mindfulness and lots of visualisation in your meditations. Watch out for fearfulness, anxiousness, and scattered energy in your children. Build a strong sense of centre with yoga balances and games that build confidence.

The accredited Club Morgan programme introduces these concepts as fun seasonal activities for children, giving them a strong personal foundation and the best possible start in life. Children attending our sessions also engage in fun and inspiring activities, which extend their understanding of healthy bodies, seasonal food, emotional awareness, exercise and relaxation. These themes are brought to life through a specialist form of exercise and movement called Yo-Chi, which is practised alongside drama, our special camp-fire stories and other seasonal activities.

The programme is currently being taught in schools and nurseries across England as part of weekly activities, as bespoke workshops and after-schools clubs. Many schools are now accessing funding to have the programme delivered as part of their curriculum combining it with sports and PSHE.

Emma Lawrence from The Yoga Tree runs the Club Morgan Programme in the Cotswolds area and is a trained Seasonal Yoga Teacher.