A guest post by Gabbi Simpson @ The Yoga Inclusive
My name is Gabbi and I am a yoga teacher for children both with and without special needs and adults. I also work part time as a child support worker in a local primary school and as a part time nanny.
Most people’s reaction upon being told what I do is either to recoil in horror or tell me that my cause is admirable but they’d rather me than them. I understand it, working with children isn’t for everyone, but I can safely say that most of my greatest teachers have been or are currently children. Who better to teach you patience than a tantruming child? Or teach you calmness than a 5 year old that refuses to go to bed?
It’s that little 5 year old I nanny that kick started my journey teaching yoga and mindfulness to children. Gabriel, or the Little Yoga Man as he likes to be called, was labelled at preschool as ‘the naughty one’. Believe me he was more than just a pickle. Aged 3 and 4 he pushed every button you had, usually resulting in violent temper tantrums of epic proportions. His mother and I were often reduced to tears and desperately wanted to give this little person a sense of peace. I had done yoga at preschool and as I already taught adults I reckoned it’d be worth a shot.
I took Gabriel to a children’s summer yoga club in summer 2016. He managed to sit through 45 minutes of a 90 minute session… result!! I wasn’t going to make him stay for the entire session, when a child is forced to do something when they’ve simply had enough, they can grow to hate it, and that’s the last thing I wanted. After two classes he asked me for his own ‘yoga carpet’. He chose the most expensive mat, I relented, and well the rest almost feels like history.
When I’ve asked him why he likes yoga he says “because I can do it, I’m good at it.” Every child, and to be honest, every adult wants to feel good at something. If that for him is yoga, well then I’m overjoyed. I took Gabriel to a summer yoga club in August 2017, a whole year on from the first sessions. The feeling I had when he turned round and said “Gabbi you don’t need to stay, I’ll be OK” was both that of immense proudness and a tinge of “Aww he’s growing up”. Even more so when I picked him up and the glowing feedback I received from the teacher was that of a well behaved, polite, helpful little boy. All this being said while I watched him roll up all the mats and tidy away the space; I cried.
Now aged 5 and in Year 1 at school he has started his own yoga session with his teacher and classmates, completely initiated by him. He still enjoys regular yoga with myself and his two and a half year old sister. Whilst he’s still a 5 year old, we still have tantrums, we now have an incredibly strong bond and he’s an absolute pleasure and joy to be around. We have a tried and tested bedtime routine during which he requests ‘the elephant song’ otherwise known as the Ganesha Mantra and he helps me with all my yoga projects I have for the school or children’s classes. Who better to critique your material than a brutally honest 5 year old?
He’s now even asked if he can be my helper if I start a baby – toddler class. I’m definitely open to it, so who knows.
— Gabbi Simpson @ The Yoga Inclusive