UPDATE: Get 50€ off this teacher training or ANY OTHER retreat or training by Beta Lisboa if you use the code “anya50” during registration. See the worldwide schedule for this year here.
Last week I took part in a 95 hour Yoga for Kids Teachers Training in Bali and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to write about my experiences for anyone else who is thinking of taking this course. The training was 12 days long (95 hours) and our teacher was Beta Lisboa – you can find her details here, she also does other great workshops like Yin Yang Teacher Trainings, Myofascial Release trainings and mindful retreats.
Green School: the location for the Yoga for Kids TT
The training took place at Green School in Bali, a world renowned school that I fell in love with from the first moment. Check out their website, it’s really worth visiting – they have free tours around the place everyday. It can be a little hard to find, so I wrote a guide on how to here there here.
Day 1 – settling into Green School:
We stayed in a part of the school called the Green Camp, it’s basically made up of several bamboo yurts (see photo to the right) and shared bathroom facilities. It’s very simple but sweet, and I thought it was wonderful since I love everything natural and this place made me feel as one with Mother Earth.
The training started as soon as we dropped off our suitcases (there were 13 students in total and it wasn’t only girls!). We started off with gentle body exercises with Susan Allen, another teacher who came to teach us several lessons. She had a fun way of keeping us engaged and moving our bodies at the same time, we walked, we jumped and rolled around on the floor and it was great. After that, we went for breakfast (we had 3 meals included and they were all vegetarian buffets) and then came back for an introduction circle. We got to know the group and went a little bit through what we will do during the training. Everyone got really excited when Beta told us that we will have to actually act as children as she will guide different styles of classes. She also said we will have different evening activities like a kirtan evening, a movie night and a circus evening!
It’s good that the first day wasn’t too physically intense as a lot of people were tired from travelling and we finished an hour earlier to allow us to unpack and rest before our yummy dinner. I slept so well hearing the sounds of nature around me, it was so peaceful and relaxing.
Day 2 – learning how to act as 3 year olds:
7:00 start with vinyasa yoga for about 1:15-1:30 hours followed by a guided meditation. The yoga studio where we are spending all of our days is sooo beautiful!! Green School really has the most stunning architecture! Everything is made up of natural materials (I will write more about Green School in another post) and doing yoga in a place like that just makes is so much nicer! Our yoga mats were of really good quality and we had great bolsters too. The yoga teacher was very professional and kept it at a level that was comfortable for us all, that was really nice to see. After yoga we had a sharing circle where we were given the chance to discuss anything we wished to, and again, gave us a chance to get to know each other.
After breakfast the fun began!! We were told to play 3-5 year olds as Beta led the class. I don’t want to write too much so as not to give it away if you want to do the course yourself, but it involved some fun body movements, imitations, getting to know each other and our cultures through movement and gestures, as well as some light breath awareness and even a creative art session at the end (we got to colour in an Om symbol, which is a fun way of introducing this kind of stuff to young kids I think). Throughout the class we really let out our inner children, we danced, we laughed and we came up with scenarios that you would often encounter when teaching young children (for example, if someone started crying because another kid pushed them over, Beta showed us how to deal with that).
I’ve never been to a training like this and was really impressed with the teaching style, getting us to act as children of different ages is such a smart way of showing us exactly how it should be done (at no time were we allowed to break the play) and get us to have fun at the same time. Looking around, it was a real pleasure to see how acting open, friendly and playful, as children, has brought the group closer together. I’ve been to many other workshops in my life, but nowhere have I felt this kind of group connection before.
After lunch, we went to Susan Allen’s yoga studio in Ubud (Yellow Coco) where she taught us about children development stages. It was really interesting seeing how different age groups react to certain tactics differently and it was a really helpful lecture. Susan is a really fun and artistic character too, full of energy and enthusiasm for teaching.
Day 3 – tour around Green School, Bali:
Every day started the same way, with yoga at 7:00, followed by a sharing circle until breakfast.
Throughout the training we were supposed to cover the following age groups: 3-5, 5-8, 8-11 and 11-13. Two days were given to each age group, so today we played really young children again. However, this lesson was very different from yesterdays and we all got so many ideas on how to teach young children, the different techniques we can use to keep them engaged, entertained and active. A few people asked what happens if we ran out of ideas, but children actually quite like doing the same thing, kind of like watching the same movie over and over and over again (I think I’ve seen The Lion King about 2 times a day everyday for a year when I was 7!). Also, children will bring ideas into the classroom all the time, and it is important for the teacher to listen to them, as that will help run the class.
During lunchtime, we got to go on a private tour around Green School. The guide, Nyoman, was fantastic, he showed us all the cool stuff around the campus, all the plants that grow there and what we can do with them. He even broke off a sugar cane and gave a bit for all of us to try (that was the first time I’ve tried it, it was actually not as sweet as I thought it would be and had a very lovely flavour to it).
In the evening we learnt how to teach the Tree of Yoga to children. It was a lovely and easy method and even though I had learnt it before, it was nice to look at it from another angle.
Day 4 – learning how to act as older children:
Today we were 5-8 year olds. That was nice, there was a bit more stuff that you could do with older children and you can start to incorporate more yoga things, like saying some sanskrit names. One thing I’ve wondered about is how to keep children still during the relaxation stage at the end, and here I found the answer – eye pillows. What a simple little thing, but it makes all the difference. It stops the child from opening his eyes and therefore getting distracted!
Gartner’s multiple intelligences theory was the lecture topic of the evening, which I remember learning at uni, but never thought of applying it to teaching children. It was interesting, once more, to see how each intelligence develops at different ages and how to use that to the teachers advantage.
Day 5 – fun props, chakras and movie night:
Different yoga style today, its nice to see that they varied it, it wasn’t as intense as the day before.
More ideas for 5-8 year olds today, we did a lot of animal postures and used fun props (like ropes to make a spider web etc). In the evening we had a chakra lecture and there was a really fun way of introducing it to children: you go into pairs and one child lies down on a large piece of paper whilst the other child draws around the body. Then you both get to draw the chakras in the right places on the body you just drew. I wish I had lessons like this when I was a child!! I love how creative this training is, I’ve always been an artistic person and I think it’s so important to incorporate that into a child’s education.
Movie night tonight, we were given a nice choice of spiritual and health-conscious films to watch and we chose “I am”. One thing you should keep in mind when doing a workshop in Bali – there are many mosquitoes, especially in the evenings.
Day 6 – into the mud pit we go!!
Since it was a Friday, we had a restorative yoga class in the morning and we incorporated the chakra knowledge from yesterday into the class, which was really cool to see how it all connects.
One of the best days of the training! We were playing children of ages 8-11, so the classes were more organised and comprehensive. We used asana cards and made a game out of them to make it fun (e.g. each person got a card, they had to do the posture and the rest had to guess what the posture is called). We then got to make letters out of our bodies and spell out words for the other group to guess. Everyone really enjoyed it. We also did partner yoga and made body pyramids, which was awesome.
On the day we had the school tour, Nyoman showed us a mud-pit where they bring children to play in the mud. A few of us got so excited about it that we asked the teacher if we could have a lesson in there. It was so great to see a teacher who was flexible with her curriculum and was willing to shift things around to make us happy, so just before lunch we went to play in the mud!! I was surprised to see that Nyoman went in with us and, treating us like the children that we were, made us do different fun activities in the mud, like train races, piggy back rides and mud pyramids!! Only about 7 or 8 of us went in, but we enjoyed it soooo much, I can’t even describe how much fun being 100% silly was, we just didn’t care what people around us thought, we were totally in the present moment. And not without yoga of course, we did do some asanas, and I ticked one more place off my list of “places where I did a headstand” haha 🙂
After the mud we all went to jump in the river which runs through the school – its the Ayung river, which is one of the 2 most popular ones to go white water rafting on. I went rafting there about 6 years ago. The water temperature was just so perfect, we spent most of lunch time in there. There was also a Tarzan rope that we were swinging from, and taking silly photos jumping off rocks. By the end, everyone’s eyes were glowing with excitement!
In the evening we had someone from Green School coming to teach us about permaculture. We learnt a lot about…our poo and pee (apparently if you mix pee with ash, its the best thing to fertilise a tomato plant with, and if you have a natural toilet and cover it with dry leaves, after 6 months there will be no smell at all and you will be able to use it on your land). We got to do some mooching and then we planted our own little seed, which will eventually grow into a nice plant at the school (mine was an aubergine). We made little beds out of leaves for it, which was fun.
Day 7 – day off and Tirta Empul water temple:
Day off! As part of the training, we had a tour to the Tirta Empul water temple included, so some people went to that and some people wandered about Ubud.
Day 8 – preparation for the Yoga for Kids teacher exam:
Yoga in the morning and some study time in the afternoon. We will have an exam later on in the week, so we were put into pairs to study for it and prepare lesson plans.
In the evening we had a beautiful and relaxing kirtan evening with Liza Lilintahl.
Days 9 and 10 – more prep time:
Preparation time!! In our pairs, we had to teach the rest of the group as if they were children of ages assigned to us (the age were different to the actual children we would teach in a few days to give us experience with several age groups).
What fun we had! Sure it was nerve-racking, but everyone had such great ideas and we all got to learn from each other. New ideas and feedback were exchanged – each lesson was discussed afterwards on things that went well and what could be improved.
Days 11 and 12 – Yoga for Kids Teacher Training exams:
And finally the big moment we have been preparing for – teaching actual children!! What a satisfying feeling it was to know that these little beings were sooo happy with our classes, they listened to instructions, they laughed and played, and they really really had fun! It wasn’t as hard as some of us feared it would be and everyone had the best time.
All in all, it was an absolutely amazing 12 days, I learnt so much and I definitely feel I could apply it all in the future. Letting out my inner child for the whole time was one of the best things about this training and it was an experience I will try to re-create as much as possible!!
For anyone who is into yoga, I would highly recommend this course. The teachers are really professional, the place is just breathtaking and the atmosphere was extraordinary, I really can’t say enough about how great this course was, I wish I could do it all again!!