There are so many ways that kids benefit from yoga! Children get many of the same perks from yoga that adults do – including improved sleep, body awareness, relaxation, and strength. Additionally, when children are allowed to incorporate yoga into their daily life and schoolwork, they can also discover compassionate ways to handle challenges at school and socially. A kid-friendly yoga practice can also help children learn and incorporate knowledge in a kinesthetic way. There are many yoga practices that are kid-friendly, and if you plan on teaching children’s yoga, get ready to perform!
Yoga creates children who are bright lights in this world. Shakta Khalsa
Half the battle when teaching children yoga is getting them to stay engaged. The best way to do that is to keep the practice light, fun, and active. Here are a few tips on structuring a yoga sequence for kids, and some creative ways to handle the common problems with children’s yoga classes.
Challenges You Might Face When Working With Kids
As stated above, the thought of teaching yoga to kids might sound amazing or challenging, depending on the person and your yoga background. Whether you are a professional yoga teacher, parent, school teacher, or a combination of all three, enlightening your child to the world of yoga can be incredibly rewarding.
When you are teaching yoga to children, remember that it is very different from teaching adults. It can be harder for children to stay still and everyone knows that children can be total wild-cards, so it is important to have an open mind. When you step into the yoga space, you might have a relaxing sequence in mind, but the children could be in desperate need to get some goofy energy out!
When you are working with children in a yoga class, be sure to do the following:
- Set clear rules and boundaries at the beginning of class. This advice was given by kids yoga teacher Amy Ballard in an article by Yoga Journal. In the article, she shares her specific rules for class – “Be safe, have fun, and stay on your own mat.” As you can see, those are very simple rules that are easy for kids to follow but it also establishes the teacher as the leader in the room and gives kids clear guidelines to work with. Ballard suggests writing them on a chalk board or white board that you can bring to class and place at the front of the room.
- Use a theme to keep kids interested. The more fun children have with yoga, the more likely they will be to stay engaged during the class and come back to their yoga practice in the future. Some ideas for themes include animals, feelings, gratitude, and empowerment.
- Don’t obsess over alignment. While alignment is definitely important, the main goal for kids is to have them move and do their best. It is far better to encourage them to have fun then emphasize perfect alignment.
Yoga Sequences For Kids
Here are 2 yoga sequences that kids are sure to love! These yoga sequences can engage them with their inner being, their friends, and of course, can help them have fun. Make sure you encourage children to practice yoga barefoot in comfortable clothing.
The “Feelings Yoga” Sequence
For this yoga sequence, children get to pair each movement with a mantra and evoke the energy of natural beings such as plants and animals.
Mantra: I sand steady and powerful like a mountain.
- Come to the front of your mat. Stand with feet hip distance apart.
- Shake your shoulders and arms and then relax your shoulders down.
- Point your palms forward towards the teacher.
- Take a big, deep breath and exhale loudly. Then, take a big, deep breath and exhale quietly.
Mantra: “I am kind.”
From Mountain Pose, lift one leg to your calf or inner thigh.
Keeping your balance, lengthen through your core and extend your arms high up in the air. Bring your palms together.
Ground down into the standing leg and foot.
Release your foot, bring your arms down, and try it on the other side.
Mantra: “I am free like a bird.”
From Tree Pose. come back to Mountain Pose.
Lift one leg up, cross it over the other leg, and squat down.
Criss-cross the arms over the chest and draw them away from your face.
Think about keeping your back long and flat, and lift your chest proud like an Eagle.
As you release your legs, break your arms free with a big, loud exhale.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Mantra: “I am frustrated.”
From Wide-Legged Forward Fold, walk your feet in and drop into a low squat.
Point your knees to the sides of your mat and bring your hands to a prayer position in the center of your body.
Make your best frowning face! Then, take a big, deep breath and exhale loudly.
Mantra: “I am calm.”
From Frog Pose, bring your knees to the yoga mat and fold forward.
Stretch your arms out in front of you or place them by your side.
Place your head on the yoga mat and take a deep breath.
Close your eyes and stay nice and still for a moment. Repeat your mantra, “I am calm.”
This is a fun, longer yoga sequence that can be used for young children. To keep this longer sequence entertaining, feel free to play music during the class! Also, if you wish to expand this sequence further, you can come up with an animal or theme for each letter of the alphabet and practice the class in that order.
For this pose, pretend you are getting on a big airplane to see all of the animals at the zoo! Stand at the front of your mat, stretch your arms out wide like airplane wings, and hinge forward at the hips to take flight. Practice lifting one foot and then the other off the ground.
Lay down on your belly. Place your hands at your shoulders and left your chest up as high as you can. Press your legs into the ground. Hiss like a cobra!
Can you wag your tail like a dog in this pose? Come to all fours. Then, lift your bum into the air and step your feet back. Feel a big stretch along the back of your body and make sure you bend your knees!
This forward fold makes kids feel like they have hanging gorilla arms. Stand with feet hip width apart, bend your knees a little, lift your toes, and fold forward. Place your big hanging arms in front of your body and tuck your hands under your toes.
What is your favorite animal? A bunny or a bear? Imagine you are a baby animal, lay back, and kick your legs in the air. Grab your toes and feel a big stretch in your legs.
Make this pose loud like a Lion! All you have to do is kneel on your mat, put your hands on your knees, and turn your fingers into claws. Breath in through your nose, then exhale super loud and stick out your tongue.
“Zzz” Pose (Corpse Pose)
For this pose, it is time for all of the animals to go to sleep. Lay on your back and get all of your wiggles out. Then, close your eyes and focus on breathing in for four counts and out for seven. Let the teacher tell the students when it’s time to wake up.
A Closing Mantra For Kids
Whether you are a teacher or parent, the end of a yoga class is a great time to plant a sweet message to children. They will likely be feeling calm and focused, so you might as well take advantage of that time to offer them this peace blessing from Ghandi! If you want to turn it into a teaching moment, the children can also memorize it and recite it with you.
I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love. Gandhi
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Having been a teacher’s assistant at over 50 yoga teacher trainings worldwide, Rebecca Rebecca has a firm grasp on the fine art of yoga and meditation. In her work, she carefully reflects on a vast expanse of knowledge to help others find peace in both body and mind.