Planning a children’s yoga class is a lot like cooking. As a teacher, you get to invent your very own special recipe for yoga by combining some basic poses, a few kid-friendly resources and a whole lot of imagination!
Here are five essential ingredients you will need to plan creative and effective yoga lessons for your students:
1) Start with a familiar theme and make it fun.
Yoga helps children integrate what they are learning in school and apply it to their own personal experience. Matching your theme to the time of year, season or any holiday is a great way to reinforce concepts that children are already familiar with. Yoga allows them to explore familiar themes in a holistic way by using their bodies and imaginations. For example, gratitude is a great theme to explore during the Thanksgiving holidays. Give children the opportunity to share what they are grateful for and then do some of their favorite yoga poses to celebrate and give thanks for all the elements of Nature, such as the Sun, flowers, trees and animals.
2) Add a catchy music playlist to get kids moving.
Just like in an adult yoga class, music is a wonderful complement to yoga. Children love music and it helps them to focus through listening and movement. My students ask me to play some of their favorite yoga songs and enjoy singing along while doing their poses. You can also use music for Yoga Freeze Dance by playing an upbeat song and having children freeze in a yoga pose when the music stops. Some of my favorite yoga songs are Dance for the Sun by Kira Willey for Sun Salutations, Wimoweh by Laurie Berkner for the Lion’s Breath, Super Hero by Patti Shukla for the Warrior/Hero Pose and Kira Wiley’s Namaste Song for Relaxation and closing circle.
3) Mix in activities to keep them engaged.
Variety is the key to planning creative yoga lessons that kids will love. Young children have a limited attention span, so be sure to include a diverse array of activities to keep them active and entertained. Children enjoy practicing breathing exercises, like Balloon to Choo Choo Train to Volcano Breath, warm-up activities, like Sun Salutations or simply stretching while pretending to “Paint the Sky”, as well as yoga games, chanting, storytelling, guided visualizations, sharing circle, and art.
4) Spice it up with interesting props.
Props are fun and provide a focal point for learning. Children love colorful visuals, like yoga cards or photographs of animals, which can be used as prompts for yoga poses. Some of my favorite props include books, stuffed animals, scarves, finger puppets, painted rocks…the possibilities are endless. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on props either. Some of the best props are free and can be found in nature. For a Fall lesson plan, try using real leaves for breathing, creative movement, and of course, doing tree pose.
5) Pour in lots of imagination and play!
Kids yoga is all about discovery and pretending to “be” anything you can imagine. While it is useful to be prepared with your lesson plan, it’s also important to be creative, flexible and willing to improvise when needed. Let your imagination run free, as you take your students on a magical yoga adventure. Be open to the children’s ideas during class and let them make up their own poses of their favorite animals, creatures and objects. And most of all, have fun and PLAY!