**A warning about using balloons in your kids’ yoga classes: do NOT use balloons with young children, as they are a choking hazard. Also, be aware of any latex allergies before using balloons with any age**

Balloons may be the most perfect prop to use in a kids’ yoga class – inexpensive, colorful, and endlessly useful to teach poses, breathing, and meditation. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

Breathing:

  • Balloon Breath: Slowly blow up a balloon to demonstrate the effect your inhale has on your lungs. Then even more slowly let the air out, as if the balloon was exhaling. After doing this a couple of times, invite the children to become the balloons as they breathe. They start limp and floppy, then they breathe in fully through their nose and fill their whole body with the breath until they are bursting at the seams and HUGE! Then they exhale through their nose and deflate back to their small, loose posture. If you’re feeling daring, they could blow themselves up in a couple of inhales (like the balloon is extra-large) and then they get popped, and zoom around chaotically with a funny sound through their mouths as the air flies out, landing back on the ground as soft, deflated balloons.
  • Balloon Float: This is simply a practice in keeping the balloon off the floor, using only your breath. Kids can do this individually, with partners, or as a large group. You can use one balloon or several. Inhaling through the nose, use your exhale through the mouth to lift the balloon up in the air. Experiment with different kinds of exhales – long and smooth or short little bursts of breath. For an added challenge, have all the kids lie down on their back in a circle, heads close together. Have them work together to keep the balloon lifted. If they are doing well, add another balloon. Want to make it more sports-like? Set up a “net” (a strap or rope) that the kids pass the balloon over with their breath.

Movement:

  • Pass the Balloon: Children lie in a circle or in a line, head to toe. The first person holds the balloon in their feet, lifts their legs into plow, and grabs the balloon with their hands. Then they pass the balloon to the feet of the person lying right above them. Continue in the circle, or have a race in two lines.
  • Fill ‘Er Up: Have children come into any pose you’d like them to work on. Now tell them that they are balloons and you are going to blow them up even bigger. Without moving, they get bigger and take up more space. Their arms reach further, their crown reaches to the ceiling more, and their legs get longer. This is really good for recognizing and honoring the space they deserve to take up in the world. Don’t be timid!
  • What’s in Your Balloon?: Similar to Balloon Breath above, but this time instead of filling the balloon with plain old air, how would your balloon move if filled with different substances? On inhales, maybe you fill the balloon with helium and float weightlessly around the room. What if you filled the balloon with thick maple syrup, or ketchup? How would your balloon move? A water balloon would be fun!

Meditation/Relaxation:

  • Balloon Ride: As kids begin to settle into their savasana, guide them through a hot-air balloon ride. They are gently lifted up into the air in this beautiful balloon. Be sure to include all 5 senses in  your descriptions – color of the balloon, smell of the ocean/forest/garden, feel of the breeze on their skin, the sound of the wind whooshing past them, the taste of snacks they brought.
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