Stress can have various health consequences, and children rely on the environment set by society for their physical and mental development.
Yoga can act as a potential tool for helping kids deal with stress and regulate their emotions. In fact, research shows that yoga can help children cope with stress, improve mood, and build resilience, resulting in a positive life balance.
Yoga practice among children benefits their concentration, improves self-awareness, consciousness, behavioral and emotional maturity, and self-confidence in daily life. Some evidence suggests that yoga can even be used as an adjunct to medical treatment for various mental illnesses.
When it comes to teaching yoga to these young minds, you get to grow with them embracing your inner child. In fact, it’s essential to understand age-appropriate practice and go ahead with some creativity and positive communication.
Essential Ingredients For Kids Yoga Class
Having some essentials and kid-friendly resources can help you make your class fun-filled and interesting. These ingredients include:
- Appropriate yoga clothes and accessories
- Some videos and reference books
- Your lesson plan for the class
Other than these materials you need open-mindedness and lots of patience to meet the needs of children. Interactive and fun-filled classes can keep the kids engaged and focused throughout.
A Step-by-Step Guide For Conducting Kid’s Yoga Class
Here are simple steps to help you meet the needs of kids’ yoga classes.
Step 1: Set Your Intention
The tradition of yoga is a collection of practices and commitments that reflects in your daily life. Yoga practitioners are expected to start with a “readiness-to-change” mindset, which needs the right intention. Having great lesson plans will not get results if you haven’t set the right intention.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve through this class and set an intention for yourself as well as your class. When you have set a purpose, your class moves on the right path.
Step 2: Lesson Planning
Unlike adults, kids are not focused as much on the rules; hence you need to have a flexible lesson plan. Though yoga teaching is serious, it requires a playful and fun approach based on children’s needs. Keep an open space in your daily lesson plan to adapt to the day’s energy and be flexible.
Some essential aspects of yoga include:
- Breath control techniques or pranayama
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Asanas or adoption of specific bodily postures
- self-reflection or self-study
Yogic breathing as a part of your lesson plan can be used to improve concentration and focus among children. Studies say yoga breathing practice brings immediate changes in children with decreased visual reaction time (VRT) and auditory reaction time (ART).
With an increased rate of information processing and improved concentration, kids will be able to ignore external stimuli. Yogic breathing, when practiced for nine rounds, can help you keep the kids grounded in the class.
Remember, your yoga class may not go perfectly as you have planned; be ready to take that lead from kids and give them what they need through yoga.
Step 3: Engage & Connect to Create a Tempo
It’s a good idea to plan a specific theme or activity to capture a kid’s attention when you begin your class. Your focus activity can be a game or singing a song that builds connections and brings all the students together.
Make your warm-up session fun-filled then take the kids to the focused yoga practice of the day. A warm-up game can be an age-appropriate yoga story, yoga dance, or acro yoga. These can have a meaningful effect on their performance by enhancing psychological stability, preparation, and confidence for yoga practice.
Create a positive impact by ending your session with breathing practice or mindful meditation. Using Tibetan singing bowls can be a great option to bring complete relaxation and a sound mood. It brings an emotional balance and a sense of achievement to kids.
Try to create a positive impact on kids throughout the session. Let kids understand that yoga is not about achieving that perfect pose but to create an ideal mind that’s ready to face the world. Everyone is unique in their own way, and let them know that. Address each one of them and help them build their confidence.
Step 4: Be Compassionate
These growing young minds can not be treated as adults. Even learning yoga may not be their focus when they arrive for your class. Take a compassionate approach with each child and try bringing their attention to yoga in a respectful way.
You can explain to the kids the importance of yoga through a story or an activity by showing something like how flexible you can get.
Give them options and let them choose their intention for practice. Having an aim is a great way to keep them engaged and on track. During training give them personalized feedback to help them reach their goal. As yoga needs a consistent approach, encourage them to take this journey positively.
Be open to allowing some kids to do other activities if they don’t feel ready. Take a gentle approach and get them to practice with patience.
Step 5: Add Some Fun
When you’re trying to add yoga to their lifestyle, you’ll want to take a fun-filled approach. Kids love art, drama, music, dance, and games, and adding them to your session makes it fun. Joining the kids and playing with them also helps to set the tone.
Make the session interactive by asking questions and opinions. Explain the basic concept of each asana to make it meaningful to them.
For instance, some asanas improve posture; hence explain to kids how important it is to have a good posture, which can represent their confidence. Tell them how mindfulness helps them stay happy and content. These simple practices can create a significant impact on growing minds.
Step 6: Gear-Up With Your Listening Skills
Children‘s minds have no boundaries. They are filled with creativity, ideas, and plans. Be open to listening to their beliefs or suggestions to improve the session. Once in a while, you may even want to let the kids plan a session and guide them through it.
Yoga sessions for kids should be a positive experience. They don’t need to be aligned properly in a pose.
Instead, let them feel like a fighter in warrior pose, stand strong in a mountain pose, and fly during an airplane pose. Teach them the basic idea about asanas in a fun-filled yet straightforward way.
Step 7: Grow & Learn as a Yoga Teacher
We learn many things from children, like accepting imperfections and flaws, forgiving, and forgetting unimportant things, and living in the present moment. As a yoga teacher, you will learn patience and self-acceptance from children, which is essential in your yoga journey as well.
How Do You Explain Yoga To a Child?
Kids usually don’t know much about yoga. You can start by saying yoga is a special kind of exercise that builds the strength of your mind as well as your body. It makes you feel energetic all the time and makes you flexible.
Tell the kids how yoga brings calmness to your mind and helps you to focus when needed. It helps to activate the brain through the body and brings a balance between both.
You can explain to kids in simple words that yoga helps them to breathe and relax and helps them feel good in their own bodies.
When Should Kids Start Yoga?
Kids can start yoga as soon as 6 to 12 years of age. A study conducted on school-age children showed remarkable improvements with regular yoga practice. It increased school performance and reduced attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD.
In another study, high self-efficacy towards an individual’s judgment to organize and execute the tasks to achieve optimal performance was seen in school-age children who practiced yoga.
When integrated at the right age, children can grow and flourish with yoga.
8 Easy Yoga Poses for Kids
Certain yoga poses can help children to improve their physical and mental health. Below are some excellent poses to start with.
1. The Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
In the Tree Pose, the child balances their weight on one leg with the other leg folded over the thighs. The arms are folded in the ‘namaskara’ position. Children practice this for a few minutes and then repeat it by switching legs.
Evidence suggests that tree pose improves concentration and balance.
2. Butterfly pose ( Baddha Konasana)
Mimicking a butterfly through an asana can be exciting for kids. For this asana, children sit on the mat with their legs stretched in front. Then bend the knees inward and make their feet touch each other. Then their feet are held tight with hands, and legs are flapped out to the sides like the wings of a butterfly.
Butterfly pose is a great stretch to the inner thighs and groin increasing their flexibility. Also, with regular practice, it ensures good posture in a growing child.
3. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
A pose where the body is bent like a bridge gives an excellent stretch to a kid’s spine and thighs. For this pose, kids are asked to lie on their back on a flat surface. They bend their knees to lift the middle and upper body with palms pressing firmly against the ground. Breathe slowly through this posture and stay for a while.
Bridge pose helps to open the chest, thighs, hips, and it also strengthens the back. It increases the flexibility of the backbone and allows kids to achieve a good posture.
4. Cobra Pose ( Bhujangasana)
Cobra pose is an excellent asana for back, abs, and to increase core strength. To begin this pose, ask the children to lie face down on a flat surface. Then ask them to lift their upper body by pressing their palms firmly on the ground. Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds and gently release the body to the floor.
Cobra pose stimulates the abdominal organs and helps to reduce fatigue. It also increases circulation and boosts energy.
5. Cat Pose (Marjariasana)
A pose that resembles an animal definitely draws a kid’s attention. Ask the kids to take a tabletop position using their hands and knees. With an exhalation, arch the back upwards. The head should be released gently towards the floor. Kids should come back to the tabletop position slowly with an inhale.
Cat pose stretches and relaxes the organs of the abdomen while promoting spine flexibility.
6. Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)
Warrior pose is a great posture for strength and balance. Practicing warrior pose creates a positive image in children’s minds and increases their confidence.
For this pose, kids should stand with legs wide apart and hands stretched horizontally to the floor. Then bend the right knee slightly and face towards the right side. Keep a slight bend in the left knee, and feet should turn towards the right. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Deep breathing in this pose makes anyone feel empowered. It is an excellent pose to build a positive growth mindset among kids.
7. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
Forward bend pose is a part of Surya namaskar that stretches calves and thighs. For this asana, the child will raise their hands straight above and bend over to touch their feet. It may feel intense, and the child may find it hard to touch their feet. In such a situation, encourage them to catch a part of their feet or anything reachable including their ankles.
Forward bend pose stretches the hamstring muscle, which is essential for creating flexibility. It is also considered as a stress-relieving pose that helps kids to relax.
8. Deep Breathing (Pranayama)
Pranayama is the key aspect of any yoga practice, and it has many benefits. It brings a calming effect with increased self-awareness. Practicing deep breathing techniques prepare the kids to face the challenges of the world with clarity and focus. It also helps in the proper functioning of the respiratory system and helps to keep their allergies away.
When it comes to yoga, kids can be great learners and teachers as well. When taught with creativity and fun, yoga can quickly become a part of their lifestyle.
If yoga is your passion, teaching it to the children gives it a beautiful meaning. Sometimes it may feel intimidating, but following some of the tips mentioned above can ease the process. Build your confidence with kids’ yoga sessions and continue to learn along the way. Now you have a solid gameplan and poses for how to teach kids yoga so go out there and get moving!