Introducing and teaching yoga to children is one of my favorite things to do. I love coming up with new and different ideas on how to actively and effectively engage children with yoga. I want them to learn, be engaged, and have fun. As I am fully aware, an adult yoga class is not like a kids yoga class. Adults do yoga for many different reasons including all of the mental and physical benefits. Kids on the other hand, will definitely receive these benefits, but in the beginning their main desire to learn and try some new things and above all to have fun!
Kids learn, and respond differently than adults and having an understanding of where children are coming from will give you an insight into how to reach them. I want more than anything for you to successfully introduce the wonderful world of yoga to children.
I know you have some pretty amazing ideas for introducing yoga and mindfulness to children! Nothing can be as disheartening as not the kids not responding or listening. Kids need yoga and mindfulness today. They need you!
Having a few techniques and strategies up your sleeve will help get and keep your students’ attention. Learn how to deal with a child that doesn’t listen.
Important Note:To help keep their effectiveness, please do not overuse one idea.
Use What You Have
Look around you! What in your surroundings do you have that you can use to your a
advantage to help get your students’ attention? I love utilizing the lights in my classroom and it works amazingly well to get everyone’s focused and ready for what we are doing next. A lot of times after a large group active movement or busy activity or game, I like to dim the lights which then automatically brings the energy back down. I also like to dim
the lights or turn them off for the beginning of our Building Community section of the class and definitely the Stillness and Savasana at the end.
I am also very fond of using the Whisper Technique. If you get quieter, they will get quieter as well. Try this. It really works with those younger ages.
Use Nonverbal Cues
Kids really respond well to nonverbal cues. It can be easy to tune out someone’s voice if you are hearing it for a long period of time. This is true for adults as well! Having a non-verbal cue that is age-appropriate is an easy and wonderful way to get your students’ attention. Raise your hands in a way such as peace fingers raised, hands in mudra, or hands-on head etc. when you want to get everyone’s attention. They will then follow suit when they see this action. I also love the fact that when children are doing something with their hands; they aren’t touching one another! This is a favorite way of how to deal with a child that doesn’t listen
My favorite! I love love love using props in my kids’ yoga classes to help get and keep students attention. Balls, puppets, scarves, bells, books, anything seasonal related and I am popping it into my kids’ yoga bag to take along to my classes. One item that I use every single class is The Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards. I select 4-6 poses that we are going to work on in class and they provide a wonderful visual for practicing and for games.
Keep in mind that yoga props can be things that you have at home. Preschool-aged kids respond well to stuffed animals whispering in your ear about what you are doing next while older kids enjoy anything that they can use for balance practice such a beanbags or puff balls for breathing games.
Ready for more?! Our onlineKids Yoga and Mindfulness Online Teacher Training includes an entire training chapter focused completely on class management and how to deal with a child that doesn’t listen. After all, you have the amazing lesson plans and ideas so let’s be sure that the class is ready for them!
You can do this! I don’t want you to look at this as you should do, but instead, something that you can do! Think of it as Why Kids Need Yoga Now and what you can do to help introduce it to them. The good news is that it is easier to teach yoga to children now more than ever! There is something very satisfying about teaching children and helping to instill lifelong skills and benefits. I promise teaching yoga to children isn’t hard. We have a step by step proven format. It is something that you can do! I am here to help you.
Why You Should Teach Yoga to Kids
# 1. Kids Need Yoga Now
Our world is changing, and our kids face different challenges and commitments then they have in the past. There are many demands on kids’ time and pressure to do well and be successful at what they are involved in. This includes school, family, friends, sports, quickly changing technology, and other interests. That leaves us with kids who have a lot going on as they try to figure out a way to balance it all.
Kids need to learn how to be able to work through these demands in healthy and responsible ways. Yoga is a skill that can benefit all kids no matter what activities they are involved in or what their interests and abilities are. Yoga meets everyone at any stage and provides incredible extrinsic and intrinsic benefits. Discover the Super 7 Benefits of Yoga for Children here.
Kids that practice yoga are getting stronger mentally and physically. They are healthy, strong, and more confident. Not only this, but it can help them in school, in their extracurricular activities and absolutely their day to day lives.
#2 It is Easier to Teach Yoga to Children Now More Than Ever
When I first started teaching yoga to children there were not a lot of resources available about the best ways to teach children yoga. Since children learn and respond differently than adults I knew yoga had to be taught in a different way than an adult class.
I used my background in Early Childhood and my Master’s Degree in Education as I reviewed and researched child development and the best ways that children learn. I had to figure it out and spent hours and hours researching, writing kids yoga lesson plans, trying them out with kids, and modifying to know exactly what works for teaching yoga to children.
I wanted these kids yoga lesson plans and classes to be engaging, beneficial, and memorable for kids.
Go Go Yoga for Kids prides itself on making yoga for children doable and FUN for the kids AND you to teach. I want you to succeed in teaching yoga to children.
I am excited to share 20+ years of teaching kids compiled for you into 6 hours in our online Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training. I spent years figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for teaching kids yoga. I researched, tried, and tested during hundreds of kids yoga classes until I figured out what really worked! Stop wasting your time trying to piece random things into something that works.
I want to make this easy for you. I want you to be able to completely go into any kids environment (studios, camps, clubs, classes, at home) and confidently introduce children to yoga. I know you can give those children quality and inspiring classes. It is so exciting and truly makes such a positive difference.
#3 It is About Making a Difference
There is nothing like seeing the kids faces full of contentment at the end of Savasana. It is about watching the kids master a pose after working on it for weeks. It is about seeing a child take a few deep breaths before starting a test or before a soccer game. These kids are in tune with what their bodies need and that is so important. It is all about giving children the tools that they will have for life.
“She is constantly disrupting the flow of the class.”
These are just a few of the statements that I hear from many of you time and time again. I hear you! I understand. Teaching children is all about how to keep kids interested, engaged, challenged, and motivated. This means they are not acting up and spoiling it for the other kids. I get that. I have been there!
After 20 years of teaching in the school classroom and leading thousands of kids yoga classes, I have a pretty good idea what works for keeping your class running seamlessly.
How to Keep Children Engaged in Yoga Class
Keep the Energy Level Varied
When I teach yoga to children, my lesson plans include activities for varied energy levels. That is a good thing! I promise! I like to begin my classes at a low energy level which means settling into class, focusing on our breath and being calm and mindful.
Next, I move into the next parts of my kids yoga lesson plans which include Active Movement, Themed Yoga Poses, Yoga Games, and Yoga Challenge which require a mid- to high-energy level. Finally, I like to bring the level back down with our Community Building, Mindfulness, Savasana. Kids do really well with this type of pacing in a yoga class and this helps quite a bit with any classroom management issues. If you want to know more about the exact breakdown of my Kids Yoga Lesson Plan, our bestselling Go Go Yoga for Kids: A Complete Guide to Yoga with Kidstakes you through the exact step by step lesson planning breakdown and no-fail formula.
Keep Things Moving
I cannot stress this one enough. There is a reason that there are 9 components in the Go Go Yoga for Kids yoga class plan. That may seem like a lot, but each component only lasts a few minutes each. Each part is done specifically with a purpose. It begins with welcoming the children to class, introducing the themed yoga poses, and community building. Each part is important to the overall structure and flow of class and this definitely helps engage students. Plus familiarity and routine help build confidence with kids. That is what we want…confident kids!
Continue moving forward. I know class management can be the number one challenge in working with kids, but always continue learning and revamping. By having a plan in the place will help you stay on track, but remember to be in the moment and have fun with the kids as well. Stick with it. Keep coming back and learning and growing. Just think of the difference you are making in the lives of the children you know and love.
Too much is not always a good thing. I was definitely guilty of this very easy to do mistake when I first started teaching yoga to children. Over the years I have learned from my experiences and grown in confidence from teaching in my school classroom and by leading my kids yoga classes. What I learned is something that you need to be aware of when teaching children. Read on to discover new yoga teacher tips how they can make a difference in your classes.
Pretend you are leading a kids yoga class with school-aged children. You and the kids are having the time of your life playing Musical Mats (similar to Musical Chairs, but with yoga mats). It is the most fun they ever had! They are dancing to the music as they move in a circle around the yoga mats. You hit pause on the song and “oh the fun” as everyone scrambles to find a mat and make a yoga pose. The kids are all smiling and holding their favorite yoga pose and you are thinking, “Oh yes! Teaching yoga to children is so easy. So much fun! Let’s play this game again. And again. And again.”
I know I am guilty of this in my early years of teaching yoga to children. It is so common when people find something that works so well that want to use that game, exercise, or strategy again and again.
Be aware, however, that playing a game for too long is going to lead to children that act out or “don’t want to play any longer.” That is because the game was overused and overplayed. The recommended Go Go Yoga for Kids amount of time for playing a game is 7-10 minutes. Maximum. Keep things light and keep things fresh.
If everyone is smiling and having fun when you end the game then that is perfect! If they are asking to play “just one more time” then that is great! Still end the game. My rule of thumb is to always end the game or activity on a high note. That is a sure fire way to ensure that everyone wants to play that game the next time it is announced.
Try this strategy of “ending on a high note” and see the difference it makes with your kids yoga classes.
By the way, if you are looking for games that are definite winners, then check out the Go Go Yoga for Kids books and resources. These include over 500 kid tested and approved yoga games, activities and kids yoga teacher tips.
Kids need yoga. Our world is changing, and our kids face different challenges and commitments then they have in the past. There are many demands on kids’ time and pressure to do well and be successful at what they are involved in. This includes school, family, friends, sports, quickly changing technology and other interests. That leaves us with kids who have a lot going on as they try to figure out a way to balance it all.
Kids need to learn how to be able to work through these demands in healthy and responsible ways. Yoga is a skill that can benefit all kids no matter what activities they are involved in or what their interests and abilities are. Yoga meets everyone at any stage and provides incredible extrinsic and intrinsic benefits.
The Super 7 Benefits of Yoga for Children
Yoga Increases Flexibility and Strength
Yoga also builds strength as muscles are worked in new ways. One of the many things I love about yoga is that it gives both adults and children the ability to create strength in their own bodies and minds without the use of other equipment. The act of holding a variety of poses and breathing can make anyone feel strong and powerful. Whether a pose is done standing, sitting, or lying down, it has its own benefits and can challenge various muscle groups. Being flexible can also result in fewer and less severe injuries. That is good news for kids involved in sport-related activities and other commitments outside of school.
Yoga Improves Balance
Similar to flexibility, balance is another skill that decreases as we age. Everything from navigating icy sidewalks in winter to holding a tree pose works to maintain your balance.
Balance can be improved with practice and many yoga poses and postures incorporate different elements of balance. Often, your body’s balance naturally improves while practicing yoga without you realizing it. This is also true with children. In my experience, as kids balance in yoga poses their self-confidence increases as they feel their bodies grow stronger.
Yoga Enhances Concentration and Focus
Kids are part of a rapidly changing world. Their young minds are often over stimulated with technology and electronics. This means they are often used to getting immediate feedback from video games, tablets, or phones. This can make it very difficult for them to then actually sit, focus, and complete a task in school or at home. Yoga helps children practice concentration and self-control, which then enhances their focus and awareness.
Yoga Helps Kids Practice Being Present and Mindful
Today, as many parents and kids rush from activity to another, it can be difficult to be still and appreciate the moment. It doesn’t start out like that for kids. Picture preschoolers noticing the shape of a leaf or the color of the sky as they dawdle home from the park. Sadly, many kids become accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle until they do not know any other way.
There is much benefit to slowing down, unplugging, and being away from it all for a bit. A good kids yoga class can provide that. It begins with settling into the moment and focusing on breathing and the body.
Children can then practice engaging poses with games and end with a Savasana or quiet time. The end of class usually becomes the students’ favorite part while they lie still and “do nothing.” They know they worked their bodies hard, and this is a time to give back, be still, and reap the benefits of strengthening their bodies and increasing mindfulness. Being involved in a yoga class keeps the kids present, aware, and in the moment, which is a valuable skill to practice throughout life.
Yoga Boosts Confidence
Yoga makes you feel good, which increases confidence. I see this all the time in my kids yoga classes when children are able to master a pose they have been working on or see their flexibility and balance You can literally see them step out of the yoga class standing straighter with more self-assurance. They are also calmer, more poised, and confident in their abilities—not only in the next class, but throughout their daily activities.
Yoga Relieves Stress and Promotes Health
Yoga is a physical activity that releases happy endorphins. When you do yoga, you feel good inside and out and you want to maintain that feeling. Breathing exercises in yoga help calm and center kids. This gives kids the tools to use when they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious in life. The twisting, moving, inverting, and holding poses during yoga also improves the digestive system.
Yoga Helps Kids Develop Awareness of Themselves and Others
Everyone is unique and special in their own way, and we all come from different places and backgrounds. With yoga we celebrate and respect differences as we try new postures and poses. Kids enjoy working with one another in partner and group poses and achieving success together. Yoga is also about encouraging one another and promoting acceptance, trust, kindness, and empathy as they grow and learn together.
Let’s help give children the tools they will have throughout life. Teaching yoga to children helps benefit everyone physically and mentally, plus it is absolutely fun for everyone involved!