Almost every day I teach children in schools some yoga poses. They love doing yoga and it’s good for them! Yoga has been shown to do lots of great things for children like helping them focus, increasing attention span, increasing memory retention, helping them react more kindly to stress amongst a list of other impressive benefits!
They’re still kids though which means lots of side-chattering, short attention spans, overly dramatic falls, jumps, flops, and noises and the insatiable need to be right on top of each other.
So today we played a game where everyone pretended they didn’t have a voice– they were all verbal renunciates. Try this with your own children’s yoga class sometime!
Ask everyone to sit in a circle or close together. If they’re older, they can figure out how to sit in sukhasana (criss cross apple sauce) knee to knee. If they’re younger, it might wind up looking like a seated mob of kids (which it is). Do your best to at least make sure where-ever the kids wind up, they won’t be distracted by each other. Sometimes you have to separate kiddies. 🙂
I like to tell the kids “We’re going to see WHO CAN BE THE QUIETEST!” Instantly most of them stop talking. If that doesn’t work, counting to 3 usually helps. Then explain the “rules” to the silence game.
The game we’re going to play is pretending that we don’t have a voice. So everyone is going to sit and be their quietest because your voice doesn’t work anymore!
Once everyone is quiet, you can further explain:
Some people choose not to use their voice any more. They think communicating without a voice is a good thing to try.
Incorporate the quiet kids:
Raise your hand if you think you’d like to try this game!
Today, every one raised their hands! If a kid keeps talking or doesn’t want to play you can ask them to sit to the side and observe. That’s okay too! And usually this gives them a chance to do their own thing which is important as well.
Okay, so now let’s sit and think about why we wouldn’t use our voices. Let’s think about how else we would communicate without our voices.
Giving examples helps to stimulate thought:
You could communicate with hugs, or maybe your hands instead of talking. So take a few breaths and let’s pretend we aren’t using our voices.
After a few minutes (yes, it’s entirely possible to make it a few minutes in this exercise!) you can tell the kids (if they’re in a mob) to spread into a circle and stay quiet. If they’re already in a circle, you will ask them to share their experiences.
Some of the thoughts that were shared with me were:
– I would go to the doctor to see what’s wrong with my voice. 🙂
– I want to give hugs.
– I would talk with my hands.
– I would find lots of friends to be with.
Acknowledge each child’s comment and hopefully you’ll have time to hear each brilliant response! If not, you’ll just have to pick a few children to share their thoughts and experiences.
I also explained again that some people’s voices work fine, they just want be a different way. When someone shared about hugs, we all gave our neighbor a hug. Silence is beautiful and especially if you’re teaching kids, it is important to teach them the beauty in being quiet and listening. It’s even more beautiful to teach them that you don’t need a physical voice to be heard or acknowledged as they all live in a world that often doesn’t listen to them anyway.
And even if you don’t teach kids, have kids, or encounter kids, it would be fun to use this same exercise on yourself. How might you be if you chose not to use your voice?
sending you quiet hugs,