There is little doubt about the numerous benefits of creating a personal yoga and meditation practice for adults and starting a mindfulness practice at an early age can be extremely beneficial. However, a young person’s development requires that yoga and meditation look and feel different than an adult practitioner. A young person may not be able to maintain the intense focus of an adult’s practice, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t utilize some of the tools and techniques of yoga. Mindfulness and visualization can be taught in stories. Asana poses can be modified for more flexible bodies. And themed classes and lessons allow students to connect with some of the ideology that one can find in a yoga class.
Each individual’s practice is highly unique and individual to that person, however, the health benefits and many ways Shawnell Tillery, founder and owner of Afrochick Yoga, felt inspired to start her business after seeing these benefits for herself, who initially started the practice as a practitioner,
“I saw the immediate effect it had on me, physically, of course, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I felt such a charge from it that I immediately started thinking that everybody needs something like this. Everybody is going through their own individual things in life, and sometimes we need a break from it all, and that’s what yoga and meditation is actually able to do.”
Afrochick Yoga is a mobile studio that services clients where they are and provides individual attention in the comfort of their home. Tillery wanted to create a safe space for people, to help them find their own way of connecting to their practice in a natural and organic way, as “not everybody’s going to connect to the practice the same way.”
At home, “we can provide them with that one-on-one type of attention that sometimes you don’t really get at a yoga studio… Sometimes yoga is just not in certain communities and we’re trying to eliminate all of the obstacles that may come around trying to go to a yoga class.”
Tillery teaches many styles of yoga including, Vinyasa, Partner Yoga, Trap Yoga, and Kid Yoga. She has also brought Kid Yoga into some area schools. Yoga can give young people a mindset of health and wellness. And by creating a habit or practice, they will always have these tools as they grow into their adulthood, “No matter what, they’ll always find a way to make sure they’re fit, make sure they’re healthy, make sure they’re eating right, because it’s already been established in their more formative years. This is the routine. Creating that sense of structure with a child at a young age will help them as they grow up and become adults and navigate, maneuver through life.”
When asked about the difference between teaching adults, and teaching children, she noted, kids have to be engaged a little bit differently than adults. They are not as prone to sit still for 10 minutes. We teach the kids yoga, meditation, mindfulness, but all of that is taught in a way that they understand.
She also talked about the importance of acknowledging and validating their feelings, because yoga and meditation teach kids ways to process and relate to their emotions in a way where they can better process what they are going through.
Using a variety of methods, such as activities, discussions, yoga routines, and storybook meditation — a visualization using imagery because Kids “love visuals, they love excitement, so we create a story with our meditation that has the same effect as any other meditation. Each session has its own theme. One session we might talk about balance and focus, another session we might talk about teamwork and collaboration. Another might talk about self-love. The kids are able to learn so much more, and are able to come to the practice enthusiastically.“
There are numerous benefits of teaching young people yoga, such as appreciation for discipline, routine, structure, and sharing their practice with their family and friends.
“From the start of the program, until the ending of the program, the kids seem more enthused about not just Yoga, but about getting healthy, and all the different ways they actually can get fit. They are enthused about the content, knowing about balance, knowing about working on a team, knowing about self-love and the power of visualization. They come out of it with a sense of confidence. Even if it’s just more confident and more comfortable in their body.”
Should a person be hesitant to start a yoga practice, or to teach their child about yoga and meditation, Tillery shared that “Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all type of practice. Regardless of your age, regardless of your gender, regardless of your color, your size, your religion, or any of the things that separate us as humans. Yoga and meditation and the journey that we go on is as natural and as versatile as you are, so you can find a way to make it your own. Don’t don’t feel bad or don’t feel jaded because your practice looks different than somebody else’s practice. It is going to be different. The way that you come to your individual practice will be your own individual journey. Be willing to take it. It is such a beautiful, beautiful journey.”
Shawnell Tillery recorded a short mindful meditation practice for the readers of this piece and their families. This short practice is a great way to teach young people about mindful breathing practices, and is available here.
This series is sponsored by Project Best Life. Buffalo Rising and Project Best Life have teamed up to produce a series on wellness inspiration and advice to direct readers to the people, places, and experiences in Buffalo and beyond that will help them fulfill their health, nutrition, and wellness goals. For more information on how you can live your best life, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter.
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