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. This brings us to the benefits of yoga for children.
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!
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.
First Build a Connection 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
I love teaching yoga to kids. I appreciate how each class and interaction is so different. We are busy, active, engaging, and playful. Teaching yoga to children is definitely different than teaching yoga to adults for many reasons.
One of the biggest differences is the use of yoga accessories and props that you use in kids’ classes. Children are very visual and having a few surprising and fun items on hand while introducing yoga poses, breathing exercises, and mindfulness will really help keep your students engaged throughout your time together.
What Are Yoga Props?
First of all, what exactly are yoga props that you would use with children? Yoga props are items that you introduce and use with children to help keep them engaged and interested. Do not overthink this. Yoga accessories can be simple and inexpensive items. You probably already have several on hand that you haven’t even thought about.
I cannot wait to share with you some favorite yoga props to use with children!
Now, I need to let you in on a little secret. I am slightly obsessed with utilizing yoga accessories with children. There, I said it. You would definitely be able to tell this if you came to visit me and would see my office at my home. I have balls, hula hoops, read aloud books, puppets and more tucked in spaces throughout the room. Now please understand that I do not use all these props at once. I select 1-2 to use per class and rotate through them to help keep your yoga bag fresh.
In our online Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training, all participants are invited to be part of our private Facebook Group. In our group, we talk about all things kids yoga related. One of our topics a few weeks ago was favorite props that they love to use with children. Based on the response and discussion, I guess I am not the only one infatuated with yoga props!
Favorite Yoga Props to Use With Kids
Beanbags: These are a great tool for balance work and can be used for breathing exercises.
Pom Poms: These colorful little puff balls are the perfect lightweight size to practice controlled breathing as you breathe your puffball up and down your yoga mat or across the room.
Stuffed animals: These are wonderful to use with the younger ages when you are introducing a yoga pose such as Cat Pose, Cow Pose, Down Dog, etc. They also work well as breathing buddies and for getting the attention of your students.
Pose Cards: I use the Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards for every kids yoga class that I teach. I select 4-6 poses that we will be focusing on and practicing. These visual cards help demonstrate the pose and they can be used for all of the favorite yoga games including Musical Mats.
Scarves: Scarves are wonderful to use in many different ways for breathing exercises, Freeze Yoga Dance, and for games.