Making Yoga Fun for Toddlers and Preschoolers

In my experience, yoga classes with this age group can be really satisfying. Once I've tuned into their rhythm and practiced regularly with them, I really start to see how yoga and breath work can help them build their balance, improve coordination and develop their ability to consciously relax.

I've created a class plan collection for this group now, based on the classes I've run with toddlers and pre-schoolers over the past few years.

Download 'Yoga for Little Ones' Class Plan Collection. 

I think the key for this age group is regularity. When the children have a weekly session they soon get into the rhythm and start to absorb the benefits.

Here are my top tips for teaching yoga to this age group:

Set up a routine – The children tend to feel secure once they know the routine of the class. Even the little things like where to leave shoes and socks and helping tidy up the mats at the end create a sense of confidence. When you have a routine with the segments of your class (see below) as well, the kids will start to look forward to certain elements and be more ready to contribute.

Setting up a routine for the kids helps them feel confident.

Setting up a routine for the kids helps them feel confident.

Offer variety – Kids at this age can find it tough to concentrate for periods longer than about 10 minutes so I think of a class as a series of segments –each lasting between 1 and 10 minutes - which I relate to an overall theme. Generally I start with a greeting song, then I introduce the pose of the week, before sharing a picture relating to our topic (a picture a beautiful summer’s day if our topic today is ‘Summer’). Then I ask the kids to tell me what they know about the topic. Then we get to the main event - a short yoga story based on our theme. I tend to finish with a song with actions, by making something crafty together or by playing a game. I keep my eye on the clock and introduce elements if I need to fill more time.

Breaking the class into fun segments holds attention

Breaking the class into fun segments holds attention

Repeat postures - Younger children thrive on repetition. It helps reinforce their learning and builds their. Practicing yoga poses helps young children build vocabulary. The physical movements combine with the cognitive process of learning new words - a kinesthetic process which aids learning. By the end of an 8-week term, they will have accumulated a good range of poses and lots of new words. I love having a special class at the end of the term, where I call out pose names and see them do them, showing me and parents how much they’ve learned.

Use relevant themes – Try to make sure that your yoga sessions a based on topics the children are learning about at school and becoming familiar with. Ask a pre-K or nursery teacher for the subjects currently being taught. It’s also a good idea to use books and stories that you know are popular with this age group.

Build on topics the kids are learning about

Build on topics the kids are learning about

Include family/carers – Sometimes with the youngest yogis they need the security and support of a parent or carer nearby while they do yoga. Seeing their grown-up having fun doing the poses is usually the best way of encouraging them to have a go. Wherever possible and appropriate invite the grown-ups to follow along in the sessions and make the most of any opportunities for them to work with the children in yoga poses so they can enjoy them together.

Sing – Melody and rhythm are great ways to get younger children engaged, so if you can, sing - and if you can’t, clap! I sometimes sing random parts of the narrative if a tune comes to me. It gives the children a new sound to tune into which dials up their focus and listening in the moment.

Here's an example of the Namaste Hello Song!

 

And here's the Sun Salute Song!

 

Here's the tune of incy wincy spider for the song in the space picnic lesson plan!


Puppets and props
- Use bubbles for chasing, blowing across the room and clapping to pop them. Chiffon juggling scarves are great sensory props to lay over the face, so you see the world in a different colour. Get the kids to blow with all their might to see the scarf fly up into the air. Puppets are a great way to wake everyone up after relaxation - the kids love it when I go round with Lenny the Lion whispering ‘Wake up!’ quietly in their ear to wake them, or giving them a kiss on the nose!

Download 'Yoga for Little Ones' Class Plan Collection. 

Jess's Review of the Kids Yoga Crash Course

 

Jess wrote this review of our FREE kids yoga crash course. We thought we'd share it, so you can see what's involved!


 

A whistle-stop tour of the world of kids yoga

I just found out I can teach kids yoga. Who knew? Thanks to (Cosmic Kids co-founder and presenter) Jaime Amor's Kids Yoga Crash Course, if I was asked to cover a kids' yoga class tomorrow, I wouldn't leave a human-shaped hole in my office wall as I head for the hills in a panic.

In other words, thanks to Jaime's clear, confident and engaging teaching style, I now have an arsenal of brand new skills, tools and ideas that I didn't even know existed. And I learned them all in just one hour. Impressive stuff.

I'm not a qualified yoga teacher but I do practice yoga. As it turns out that's all you need to learn how to teach yoga to kids. See Cosmic Kids' teacher training FAQ for more details.

Jaime's a fantastic teacher. She has a background in acting and kids' entertainment and over five years' experience teaching yoga to kids. The woman knows what she's talking about. And she wants to share her knowledge with you so that you too can spread the good kids' yoga word.

Split into three easily digestible videos, the crash course takes you through the basic principles of kids' yoga: postures, storytelling and holding kids' attention.

There are free downloads to support you while you learn. A bright and breezy postures poster that you can print off big and stick somewhere visible and a fun and easy-to-use storyometer, which I might actually use to help me pen a novel...

The course is free and short – you learn a lot in very little time. And if you like what you try, with just one click you can sign up for professional certification with the full online Getting Started in Kids Yoga teacher training course.

One of the things I loved most about the crash course is that you can't help but become childlike while you're doing it. Not only are you learning in the same way as the children you'll ultimately teach, but your imagination gets a great boost too.

As you breathe life into your postures and build a story around them, your inner child gets a really good run around. I'm now on very familiar terms with Fiona the flamingo, an opera singer who suffers from stage fright and causes an avalanche with her arias. I've said it before but I'll say it again, who knew?

But it's not all flamingoes and fun. There's a serious message too. Cosmic Kids is about empowering children and helping them to connect with their bodies and their minds. Just as it does for adults, yoga helps to improve kids' concentration, balance, mood, strength, digestion. The list of benefits is long. And so is the list of children signed up to Cosmic Kids – half a million and counting.

One day these kids are going to be adults and they'll take all that learning with them. I can't help but feel excited for the future of these little yogis and the worlds they're going to create.


 

Check out the Kids Yoga Crash Course to sign up for the free crash course or to find out more about kids' yoga. Or sign up to the Cosmic Kids YouTube channel to see how Jaime teaches.

Yoga for Tweens

If you're teacher looking for resources for this age group, we've made a compendium of class plans for 8-12s here.

 

Why is yoga important for Tweens?

Being a tween (8-12) can be tough. Your body’s changing. You become more peer-focused, so what your friends think starts to matter to you. Friendships deepen. Communication gets a little more subtle. With humour and irony around, you notice that there are more dimensions to interaction than you realised. There are younger children looking up to you, creating new expectations about your roles and responsibilities. You stop learning to read, and start reading to learn, realising how little you know. Homework becomes more challenging. There’s more of a timetable of lessons. There is more emphasis on how well you are doing. You are given scores for things and can compare your own results with your friends’.  You start caring what you look like. You look at the world around you for role models, and seek to emulate others. Reality becomes more important than the realms of imagination - as you move into the real world.

I like to think of yoga for tweens (8-12 year olds) as their bridge between childhood and adolescence. Yoga helps them understand what’s going on, giving them time to step back from the everyday, and it helps them see themselves and their bodies better in the context of their new reality.

Kids in this age group still love a story-based class every now and then, but these class plans are moving towards a different focus. We look at the topics children are studying at school, and issues for the age group like growing up. We move towards a more adult style of yoga.  Many of the postures will be familiar from story-based yoga, but as the kids mature physically and mentally they can engage with yoga on a deeper level. We include sequences and postures that are more typical of an adult yoga class, so before you start using these plans, please read them carefully and make sure that you are comfortable with what you are teaching. And if you are not ready, start practicing!

I hope this helps you plan and teach some great yoga classes, and as you develop your own class plan ideas I encourage you to share them with the world too, so we can bring more great yoga classes to more kids.

We've made a compendium of class plans for 8-12s here

Here's an example kids yoga class plan for tweens - based on a game called 'Yography':

Example of 8-12's Vol 1 Class Plan - Yography

Have fun!

Learning How to Teach Kids Yoga

These days it is easier than ever to learn how to teach kids yoga. Here is some information about the steps to becoming a teacher.

First, I recommend that you do a training course with a reputable provider, and get a grasp of these key elements:

Once you've done some training, the most important part of your learning will be your practice. It takes some time to become a really confident teacher, but you will get there in the end. Even if your classes are only to one or two children to begin with, you will start to get a feel for how the interaction in a class feels. You will learn how to keep the kids' attention, how to respond to their energy and how to keep things moving.

As you accumulate experience, you will become more comfortable as a teacher, and you can really enjoy offering the wonderful benefits of kids yoga to them.

These days it is possible to start your training online - which means you can learn from home at your own pace. We now offer an online course which is very popular. It is called Getting Started in Kids Yoga and is designed to:

The course builds towards your first kids yoga class. I equip you with the script of a great kids yoga story (Squish the Fish!) and coach you to lead it. This means you are ready to lead a kids yoga adventure as soon as you finish the course.

By the end of the course, you will know how to take kids aged 3-8 with you on a safe and inspiring yoga adventure - and you will have your first adventure ready-to-go!

There are certain areas of learning which are best done face to face. These days there are many face to face courses available. Please have a look here to learn about the workshops we have planned. There are of course many other excellent businesses who offer courses too. I recommend you do the research on this - and find a course you believe is right for you.

If you have any questions about learning, please get in touch!

Our 4-day Kids Yoga Teacher Training Workshop

UPDATE: We are focusing on our online content in 2015, developing a second course (about running a Kids Yoga business) but we plan to be back doing face-to-face workshops in 2016. For info on our online course have a look here.

Here are some recent graduates talking about their experiences of kids yoga teacher training workshops:

If you are interested in joining us for the workshop, please leave your email below and let us know the city you live nearest to, and we will let you know as soon as we have news about workshops:

The course is an immersive and inspiring experience. We recommend that all students practice yoga themselves and have some experience with children. We provide a comprehensive and detailed manual, plus a posture book, and a wide range of class plans and kids yoga related games and songs so you can get started as soon as you finish the training.

Topics covered in the 4 day teacher training:

Successful graduates receive an official certificate from Cosmic Kids Yoga Teacher Training in recognition of their achievement. We base our curriculum on accreditation organisation guidelines. Both our live and online courses are recognised by insurance companies - so we can refer you for professional liability insurance on completion of the course. Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

We also offer an inspiring online course if you want to start learning today.

Take me to the online course!

How to do Savasana in Kids Yoga

I thought it might be helpful to share how I tend to do Savasana for the kids at the end of a yoga session. If anyone else has any ideas, please share!

It’s great to use the story you are telling to wind young yogis down into their relaxation, so that they are in a comfortable supine position by the time their story ends. For example, I might say:

'we tip toe back into our home and find our way up stairs into bed and lie down' or 'we get onto the back of a bird with lovely soft feathers, lying down as the bird spreads it wings and flies off into the sky, carrying us up into the air heading home full of the joy of our story'.

Then, invite the children to make themselves as comfortable as they can be - in a traditional savasana position, or makrasana (crocodile) on their front letting the backs of the hands be a pillow for the forehead, or on their side.

Speak in a calm, soft voice and slow down the pace. Suggest they allow their eyes to close, but if they don’t want to, of course this is fine too. I tend to say that I will keep my eyes open so it’s safe for them to close theirs. Once everyone is settled, invite the children to spend some time being kind to themselves. Explain that we can give ourselves a little gift of relaxation - and that this is what we are doing when we come to this resting position. This helps children take ownership of the relaxation. If we’re not careful, telling the kids to lie down and close their eyes can sound like a series of commands to them, so help them decide that they want to do it.

If we’re not careful, telling the kids to lie down and close their eyes can sound like a series of commands to them, so help them decide that they want to do it.

Optional props that help get everyone physically comfortable:

Hope this helps. Please post your own ideas and suggestions!

5 Yoga Postures Kids LOVE

Hello everyone! With kids yoga, I often think it's all about keeping the kids' attention. One great way to keep focus is to select poses which the kids love.

Keep the kids focused with poses they love to do.

Try these 5 poses to create laser-beam-like focus in class!:

1.Bunny Hops

Come to all fours, spread your hands wide and tuck your toes. Lift your knees so you’re in a little squat. Lean forward, keeping your arms straight and lightly hop both feet up together, maybe catching a little hang time at the top! Saying “Hoppity hoppity hop” with each bounce. Great for strengthening the core and masses of fun too.

2.Crabs

Sit on your bottom, knees bent, feet flat. Bring your hands behind you so your fingers point in towards your hips. Press into your feet and hands and lift your hips to the sky. Like a crab, walk side to side going “Digga Digga Digga Digga Digga OOO!” On the “OOO!” lift up and lengthen one leg like a crab playing football. Brilliant for building strength in the legs, core and arms.

3.Shark

Lie on your front, with your arms down by your sides. Reach your hands together and criss cross your fingers behind your back. Lift up your clasped arms making a shark fin and rock gently from side to side with a big toothy grin on your face! Wonderful lower back strengthening and shoulder opening.

4.Mermaid

Sit up on your knees and take your bottom down to the side of your feet, like you have a mermaids fish tail swished round to one side. Then sit up very tall with a beautiful long neck and place one hand behind you and the other hand on your knee. Look over your shoulder then back to the front to say in your very best mermaid accent “Ooo La La!” Repeat to the other side, swishing your tail around the other way. Mermaid is a super nourishing spine extension and stimulating twist.

5.Telephone

Sit up tall with your legs together and extended out in front of you. “BBbRrriiinnng BBbRrriiinnng, BBbRrriiinnng BBbRrriiinnng, That’s the telephone!” You exclaim. “Let’s answer it!” Taking hold of one of your feet, answer the phone by placing the sole of your foot to your ear, leaving your other leg extended out forward. “Hello…? Who?... Really…” Have fun inventing the conversation remembering to say a lovely goodbye as you pop the receiver down again (replacing the foot to it’s original extended position. Then would you believe it…“BBRrriiinnng BBRrriiinnng, BBRrriiinnng BBRrriiinnng, That’s the OTHER telephone!” You exclaim. “Let’s answer the other one!” Take the other foot this time, placing the sole to your ear again to speak and see who’s calling you!" Telephone is a fantastic hip opener!

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