What to Expect in a Kids Yoga Class
If I had to describe a kids yoga class in just one word, it would be FUN! Yoga for kids is a great way for children to learn how to reduce stress, as well as improve concentration, mood, balance and flexibility.
Here's what to expect when your child goes to a yoga class.
Many parents who have taken yoga classes themselves (and some who haven't), wonder what a yoga class for kids is like and whether their child will enjoy it. A yoga class designed for children is very different from an adult class that you might take at your local studio. It's filled with games, songs, stories, imaginative play, and activities that engage children and give them the tools to feel calmer, happier, and more peaceful inside!
For younger children (pre-school through early elementary), poses are often introduced with simple songs. One of the favorites in my classes at Lily Pads Childcare in Bethesda, MD is "Dance for the Sun" by Kira Willey.
Instructors may also tell stories that encourage creative and imaginative play along with yoga poses to increase gross and fine motor skills - for example, we might take a trip to the beach where we see crabs (crab walk), fish (fish pose and some fun fishy songs), dolphins (dolphin pose) and starfish (starfish pose AND starfish breathing). We can also create the sound of the ocean with our breath (for you adult yogis, that's ujayi breath) and create waves with our bodies. Kids love to offer suggestions of other animals they see at the beach, and their favorite beach activities, too!
Elementary-aged children LOVE playing yoga games and doing partner poses with friends. There are hundreds of yoga games (get ready for a separate blog post just on games soon) and kids this age just love making up their own yoga games, too! In fact, some of my favorite yoga games come from the creativity of the kids in my after-school yoga classes. A simple favorite is "yogi says" - like Simon Says, but with yoga poses, of course! Another favorite is the Yoga Garden Game by YogaKids - or as many of my yoga students prefer to call it - the Pizza & Ice Cream game, because they think the flower pieces look like ice cream cones and the nighttime pieces look like slices of pizza (or maybe they're just really hungry after school). I love this game because it is a cooperative game where everyone works together to win, and it is adaptable to play with a wide age range all the way from preschool up to 5th grade. Children ages 6-11 also really enjoy partner yoga with their friends, especially double-dog and lizard on a rock (see photos).
double down-dog (with a little yoga "puppy" underneath!) at one of our Shining Kids Yoga Outdoor Family classes!
Lizard on a Rock pose with the children at Ronald McNair Elementary in Germantown, MD!
Breathing - there are so many fun and creative ways to teach deep breathing to children, but my absolute favorite (and I'm pretty sure the children's favorite, too) is with the Hoberman Sphere aka "the big breathing ball." The ball offers a visual cue to help children practice taking deep breaths as they open and close it, and then each child gets a chance to go all the way inside the ball or put it over their head like an astronaut helmet!
Relaxation - Every Shining Kids Yoga class ends with a period of deep relaxation & aromatherapy. Even the youngest children love putting on a special eye mask and receiving flower relaxation spray (lavender aromatherapy spray), listening to peaceful music, and relaxing. For pre-school children, I call this a "yoga nap" and we usually only rest for 1-2 minutes. For elementary school-aged children, relaxation can last for 5-10 minutes, and children really enjoy the chance to close their eyes and relax their minds and bodies, especially after a long day at school. I often use guided visualizations from the Imaginations book series by Carolyn Clarke to help children calm their minds.
Kids yoga classes are so much fun, but also filled with building important tools that children can carry with them including increased body awareness, strength and flexibility, and self-calming/emotional regulation skills (via breathing and relaxation exercises).
Each yoga class includes yoga poses, breathing, and relaxation exercises which cultivate a calm mind, increase strength and flexibility, improve gross and fine motor skills, improve concentration, and give children the tools to manage stress in their daily lives.
If your child has taken yoga classes before, what is their favorite part of yoga class? Post in the comments below, or share with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org