The research is mounting, and the verdict is in: Teaching yoga in the classroom can help students on psychological and academic levels.
Kids yoga makes for a perfect sensory or movement break; it’s a great practice for students who struggle with concentration or for students who experience anxiety. The benefits of yoga for kids are similar to the benefits of mindfulness, making it another fantastic classroom activity to add to your teaching toolkit.
But wait a second. You’re an elementary school teacher. You’re not a yoga school teacher. So how do you teach yoga in the classroom? Do you need to go back for a new certification? The good news is no. There’s plenty you can do to insert yoga practices into the classroom with just a few simple steps.
How to teach yoga to kids
Here are our top tips for teaching yoga in the classroom.
(1) Make it Fun!
While yoga is usually thought of as a very quiet and internally-focused activity (and by all means learning to master this kind of state is an important end goal of all yoga practice), for kids who are new to yoga it needs to be enjoyable!
There are some really great ways you can inject a little more fun into your yoga sessions. Here are some great ideas for ways you could use our wonderful Yoga Poses for Kids Posters:
- Provide small groups with a set of the yoga pose posters and get students to take turns teaching a pose to their group.
- Attach the yoga posters to the sides of a giant die, and let each student take turns to roll the die and lead a pose.
Your students can also follow some really awesome kids’ yoga videos on YouTube. Cosmic Kids Yoga is one real favorite. Check it out!
(2) Get Involved
If you want your students to really engage in yoga activities, you need to lead by example. Try out the poses and participate in yoga sessions with your students!
(3) Choose a Spacious and Safe Environment
It is so important that you find the right environment for your class yoga sessions. You need students to be able to stretch out, lay down, and move around comfortably and safely.
It’s also totally fine to do yoga mat-free!
Your students can still learn basic yoga in their socks or bare feet.
If the weather is permitting, why not encourage students to bring a clean towel to school to use as a yoga mat and run your yoga sessions outside? Alternatively, why not use your school’s cafeteria or multi-purpose space when it is not in use?
(4) Be Responsive to the Vibe
If your students are really enjoying a pose, and their concentration levels are high, let them stay in the pose for a while and really enjoy the quiet concentration and relaxation.
Similarly, if your students are struggling to get something just right, or if they just can’t focus, change things up! Try instructing them to try a new pose, or change from whole class to small group instruction.
(5) Mix Up Your Movement Sessions
Yoga is great! But, there are a huge number of other activities that you can try out for class movement sessions. Take a look at the following blog posts for more ideas about activities and games to get your class moving!
If your students already love yoga, you might like to extend them further by exploring mindfulness too. Our printable Mindfulness Activity Task Cards are a wonderful resource for classroom mindfulness practice, and our blog post “18 Amazing Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom” provides some great tips for teachers!