When adults think of yoga a couple adjectives generally come to mind: peace, calm, serenity. A lot of us go to yoga to escape the chaos of the world for an hour and find our centers. This precious hour is a time to recenter and pause. Yoga teachers understand that this is a time for escape and their voices leak from their lips in a soothing, melodic tone and the music echoes their calming presence. This approach works for most adult classes, but here’s a shocker - kids are different.
Full of energy and curiosity, kids need a different yoga teaching style that works for them. Unlike an adult class, kids want to talk and discuss what’s happening and they need this time to release their pent up energy in a fun and creative way. Often times yoga is the peak of their school day. They get to take a break from sitting at their desk and the yoga teacher is seen as a cool, new adult that is introduced to the classroom. Kids want to impress and will seek out the attention of this new adult in their classroom.
Here are some tips and discoveries I came across when teaching Kids Yoga:
Make sure you have a class outline with different games and activities and always have a backup plan. You may put together your class outline thinking the kids will love it, but you never know. Kids are fickle and the class could be having an off day so always make sure you have other options up your sleeve.
Invest in a portable speaker and download some clean, kid-friendly music. One of my favorite ways to de-energize a hyper classroom is with yogi freeze dance. It’s just like traditional freeze dance but when the music stops they need to strike a yoga pose and shoutout its’ name.
Have a talking tool. When you create time and space to talk explain the rules of the talking tool (this could be a beanie baby, flower, etc.) and use this as a time to remind your class about respect.
I always like to end class with a savasana and then circling up to chat about what we experienced in our own spaces of calm. You will hear the cutest stories ever.
There are a million tips that lots of Kid Yoga Instructors could provide but at the end of the day everyone will find their own rhythm. Your personal teaching style as well as the demeanor of your students and class will all come into play. Kids will be excited to have you in the room and it’s important to remember that every child is different and will express their excitement and channel their energy differently, so don’t get frustrated! You are creating an outlet for these kids to release their energy and learn what being a yogi is all about. Talk to them about peacefulness and being calm. Even if they can sit in silence and meditate for 15 seconds that’s amazing and it’s important to encourage them. The kids who seem less enthused are usually the ones that need this time most.
Dominique (Nico) Klimek