Teaching kids yoga is one of the most challenging types of yoga classes a yoga instructor can teach. Kids are unpredictable, excitable and full of energy which can make for a totally different teaching experience.
As a teacher it is useful to be aware of this and be open to instant change or revision of a class structure. When teaching kids yoga be sure to practice non attachment. It is worth planning your classes with an open mind. Regular adult classes need to be changed up and improvised on occasions but you will never know what to expect with a kids class!
Here are a few tips for teaching kids yoga while keeping your sanity!
- Keep numbers small. Go for 8 children absolute maximum unless you have some additional help. why? Up to 8 is a more manageable number so teaching the group will be more cohesive.
- Teach the class as a 4-6 week course avoiding school holidays (unless you are teaching a week long camp). This gives you an opportunity to charge a discounted price for the commitment and parents will love you for it. why? Also, keeping a short course length in this way will keep the content fresh and will be less exhausting for you as a teacher.
- Keep the class length around the 45 minute mark. This is a good length of time to fit in a warming up beginning, energized class sequence winding down to quiet time at the end. If you want to take the class to an hour incorporate a small post class snack, craft break or story time. why? For children, focusing fully on yoga for an hour could be challenging.
- Learn, quickly, to read the room! If you sense lots of energy start with energy burning stuff. why? You will not get them ‘centered’ at the beginning of class like an adult class. Save the quiet time for when you’ve expelled some of the energy!
- Plan your classes loosely. Be prepared to change gear at a moment’s notice!
Inspire with yoga themed games
- Keep the class moving by introducing games.
- Speed yoga. Move quickly through poses and sequences. Do some fast transitions eg. from childs – cat – dog and back. Then try slowing down the transitioning through different poses. Kids enjoy these kind of challenges particularly if there is balance involved!
- Play the animal game and call out the animal to see who forms the pose first.
- Try musical mats. Have one less mat than kids and play music as the kids move from mat to mat as you instruct the yoga poses. When the music stops the one without a mat leaves the circle.
Over all, when teaching kids yoga be open minded as it will definitely not go exactly to plan and don’t forget you own practice of yogic non attachment!
- Team work. Create two teams that play against each other using a stack of blocks as the currency. As a team loses a round take away one of their blocks. Winning teams win a sticker – there are some super cute yoga ones available on etsy.
- Kids love to get acrobatic. Try urdhva dhanurasana, forward rolls & balances progressing to inversions such as handstands and shoulder stands.
- Games devised for partners work well particularly if you have shy kids included in the group.
- Card games work well. These brightly colored Yoga Pretzel cards are great for devising your own games or make use of their suggestions as they have some fun partner up ideas!
- Wind down with nesting. If you’ve lots of blankets and blocks and you’re prepared for some clear up, allow your little yogis to create personal ‘nests’ for the wind down/savasana. Lighten the music and work on big noisy breaths! and then as they quieten down cover up with blankets. Some kids love a lavender eye pillow so if you have any of those, now is the time.
Include a short story at savasana time
- Consider reading a short story or poem. Go for something upbeat, amusing or inspiring. It doesn’t have to be a yogic story but you might find inspiration from a classic book of short stories such as Aesops Fables or poetry from Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- It’s also worth allowing a few minutes at the end of class after you have an opportunity to chat to your mini students and create a sense of community before pick up time.
Over all, when teaching kids yoga be open minded as it will definitely not go exactly to plan. Don’t forget you own practice of yogic non attachment! With this you will ensure an enjoyable, and yet exhausting, experience!!
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