Have you ever had that “a-ha” moment where you look back and can recognize a learning opportunity or pivotal moment?
I don’t mean to make this sound like a lightning strike or mountain moment where everything was crystal clear and an obvious path was laid before you. I mean looking back, reflecting, and understanding something in a different way.
The Power of Reflection
I enjoy looking back on what has happened, accomplished, or stories I want to remember. For example, twice a year I take a moment and journal in each of my kids’ memory books about things that happened and that are important or memorable for each of them. I also have a family “year in review” journal that I jot down family memories and accomplishments at the end of each year. Every December when I pull out those journals my children always want to hear what I wrote and it brings back memories that they may have forgotten.
It is important to look back and think about what has changed, what you have made progress in or pivoted in completely and what you have learned.
A Teaching Reminder
As I was reflecting on my early years teaching yoga to children, I remembered one turning point that changed exactly how I carried out my kids’ yoga classes.
You see, I got a little caught up in the “how” instead of the “why.”
I knew how to teach yoga for kids, but why was I doing it?
I had spent hours creating these memorable and teachable lesson plans that I just couldn’t wait to try out with my students. I was so excited to see my lesson plans put into motion and envisioned kids laughing, playing, and being engaged throughout. More times than not, that was the case, and I felt like I had it all mastered.
Then there was one particular class about three months into my teaching kids yoga career when I noticed something was off with my class. We were zipping along and practicing the learned yoga poses, but I felt removed and the students were unconnected. There was no synergy. No engagement. Kids were doing what I asked of them, but it all felt blah and lackluster.
Teaching Is More Than A Lesson Plan
I realized then and there that I could create the most amazing lesson plans and power through it all so that everything was “covered” or “mastered,” but if the kids aren’t feeling known, connected, and cared about then what did it really matter? The whole lesson plan would be completed, but it would feel flat and unmemorable.
Build a Connection First With Your Students
It is so very important to take the time to build that connection with your students and for them to engage with one another.
Since that class, I have made time for The Welcome at each start of class. Every child gets a chance to share and be known. It takes only moments, but what a difference it makes in setting the tone for your class. They are involved and invested. You have shown that you care about them as a person and want them to succeed.
I carry this out in my classroom teaching as well. I can have the most amazing lesson plans for my fourth graders on how to write a biography, but if they don’t feel safe, cared for and heard above all, it will not even matter.
Want to know more about how to effectively engage your students from the start? See my tips here for the most important part of how to teach yoga for kids
Kids love partner yoga poses! Partner yoga poses help teach children the importance of teamwork and working together plus they are fun to do and build trust and community with one another within the group. These partner poses can be done at home, school, camp, yoga class or anywhere you have kids ready to try something new and have fun.
I do try to incorporate partner or group poses in every kids yoga class as it gives everyone a common goal to work toward and builds confidence when mastered. I kept this in mind when I created the Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards, I purposely incorporated partner poses for some of the yoga challenge poses. The partner poses are built on progression so gives the children a goal to work toward and it makes it so much fun to achieve together!
Tips on working with partners in a kids yoga class
Try to have kids partner up with those of similar size. All partner poses can be modified, but it is a good idea to start this way.
Have the partners get to know one another before practicing the poses. Take a moment for them to introduce themselves to one another and pose a few questions that they need to answer as something they are good at or a favorite game to play.
Have one pair of partners demonstrate the Partner Pose before everyone tries it. As the partner pair is demonstrating, this is a good time to talk about proper form and any safety concerns. Although yoga partner poses are safe and fun, it is still a good idea to remind kids to take it slow. They will naturally be excited to get right into the pose so this will help them remember.
After the partners have practiced the featured yoga pose for 1-2 minutes. Have one group demonstrate the pose one last time. Kids love to show off the poses with their partners.
First I had the students get into pairs. It is helpful to have a partner of similar size, but not necessary. Modifications can be made for any of the partner poses.
Have the partner pair get to know one another (if they don’t already) and think up a Team Name. They love doing this. Refer to their team name throughout class. They LOVE this and will absolutely motivate them.
Explain to the students that they will be working through a series of partner poses. Talk about how being safe is the number one priority and how they need to look out for their teammate.
l used the Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards for this kids yoga class because these yoga cards include leveled partner poses. It is important to begin with the easier “one starred” levels and work your way up to level 5. 5.
I began with See Saw Partner Pose and showed the students an example pose card. This Partner Pose is perfect to begin with because it really warms up your legs and truly allows the children to work together. I invited a pair to come and demonstrate it to the group. I had them model how you begin nice and slow in a see-saw fashion. Legs can be made into a diamond shape or bent if you have some children that are taller or different heights.
I allowed a few moments for the children to practice this first partner pose before moving on to the next pose with the Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards. Each time, have a pair model the partner pose as you explain to the students about how to safely get in and out of it. You could also use the Kids Yoga Challenge App for pose visuals, but keep in mind that they poses are randomized for fun with the app.
Happy Fall! This is one of my favorite seasons! As a classroom teacher I appreciate how it is full of new beginnings and fresh starts. ⠀The opportunities to learn, grow, and try new things doesn’t apply just for kids!
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I understand. I am right with you! You love yoga. You enjoy kids. What could be so different about teaching yoga to children compared to taking or leading an adult yoga class? There are definitely similarities between the two with breathing exercises, poses and ending with rest and relaxation, but that is where similarities end. Kids yoga is busy. We are moving, breathing, and interacting with one another pretty much the entire time.
Read on for three important things to keep in mind while introducing yoga to children.
Here are just a few secrets about teaching yoga to children:
Kids Yoga is Not Adult Yoga
Kids are obviously not adults, and they will not behave like adults. As obvious as this may seem, I really want you to understand. Kids are not going to follow every pose in a structured Vinyasa flow type adult class. Kids are busy, spontaneous, and they love engaging with one another. My kids yoga lesson plans always contain 9 proven and important components. That may seem like a lot, but this keeps the kids active, engaged, learning, and in the moment.
Ease Up on the Alignment
Don’t take this the wrong way. Above all, be safe but not picky. Demonstrate the pose yourself or with yoga pose cards. But be aware that if you spend a majority of time making sure Venya has a complete 90 degrees with their leg in Warrior 1 or that Dylan’s Plank Pose includes a perfectly flat back, you will lose the attention and enthusiasm of the kids. Yoga is a continued practice. Children, like adults, will continue to learn and grow with the poses and their practice.
Yoga is a Life-Long Journey
There is a reason that yoga is referred to as a practice. There is no such thing as perfection in yoga. By introducing yoga to children you are helping to give them the skills they will have for life.
I know you can do this. Are you wondering how you can even begin? If you are ready to dip your toes into learning about how to teach yoga to children, then I recommend Go Go Yoga for Kids: A Complete Guide to Yoga with Children. This book covers in great detail about the important 9 components of a successful kids yoga class. It will completely prepare you to teach successful and memorable kids yoga classes.
If you are ready to dive in deeper with your learning, our online Kids Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Trainingis the perfect place to find out everything you need to know about teaching yoga and mindfulness to children complete with teaching videos, guides, class management, lesson plans, yoga pose cards and much more. Learn more here.