How to Make the Most of Your Space
This week it rained in Toronto so I really appreciated the indoor spaces for yoga and also for kids to play in. It was a great chance to try my classes in a different room and see the difference the space can make.
In one pre-school class there are about 10 kids doing yoga in a small space. This is very tricky because kids this age are very physical and like to climb and play – especially on each other.
There are pros and cons to all sizes of rooms but this is what I have come to realize:
Small Rooms = Intimacy
In a small room it is easier to have a conversation with the group because it is easier to keep everyone’s focus. As long as you have enough room for everyone to have a mat, it can be very cozy and enjoyable.
However in a lot of daycares, the kids sit on a carpet and have to share the space. This means being extra careful with poses (like downward dog) where the kids may accidentally kick or step on each other. In a small room be sure to teach standing up keeping a close eye on the spacing. I don’t recommend demonstrating the poses as you won’t be able to keep an eye on the kids if you don’t have an assistant teacher in the class. Keep the demonstration short and ask the kids to demonstrate the pose for you.
Medium Room = Space and Focus
It’s great when the room fits the class size. If you have a carpet in the room you can use it to refocus everyone by bringing them back to the carpet or even to the circle. I like to use a song to get everyone’s attention when it is time to re-group as everyone will be able to hear you well.
Medium size rooms are great when you have space to spread out. Try making a long line with the mats or carpets and take turns going down them like a snake, a frog, or walking in downward dog. It will be long enough to be a challenge but small enough that everyone can stay focused on the activity.
Large Rooms/Gyms/Halls = Space, Freedom, and Caution
These big rooms are great for letting the kids run around, but it seems no matter how large the room, there will always be a couple of kids who run into each other or slip if they are wearing their socks. Teachers must keep the pace slow and in one direction. When it is tame it can be a lot of fun to do some running. You can pretend to walk through the tall jungle grass to slow it down and lift those knees up too.
A large room can be distracting as the children may find it hard to sit still in a big room. It will beckon them to move! Take advantage of the space by letting the kids burn some energy at the beginning of the class by running around in a big circle, then bring them in for more focused asanas after that. Sometimes during the class if the children are full of energy, we’ll do some more running, then come back to a slow pose. As a result, the relaxations may be longer in a large room too.
Change is Good!
In my pre-school class the rain gave me the opportunity to do the class in a big ballroom instead of a tiny classroom. It was a big change! We had space to really stretch out. When the kids were scattered all over the room I asked them to crawl back to me like a caterpillar. Then we used to the room to continue with this theme.
This gave the kids a much better workout then when they are all stuffed onto a little carpet. The class went so well we are going to try it in the ballroom again next week – rain or shine.