Los colores del yoga

Este es un tema que me encanta dar con lo niños. ¿Porqué? Digamos que cada niño
tiene cierta fijación con algún color! O al menos es lo que he descubierto en mis clases.

En mi caso, todos utilizan un tapete azul del mismo tono y no hay mucho problema por
eso, hasta el final de la clase justo antes de entrar al jardín secreto cuando les reparto un cojín de diferentes colores para que estén más cómodos y todos empiezan con un – Yo quiero el azul! – Yo quiero el rosa!- Yo también!- El verde no me gusta! y a veces no hay dos del mismo para más de un niño!. Entonces mi manera de que vayan conociendo y aprendiendo un poco más de los colores y sus tonalidades es justo eso. Hacer una clase con tema de los colores.

Hay unos cubos que tienen diferentes caras de colores que son súper útiles para esto. Si no hay en el lugar donde trabajas, los puedes encontrar fácilmente en alguna tienda que vendan material didáctico para guarderías, ludotecas, escuelas etc. O hacer uno hasta con hojas de papel. La temática es muy fácil, primero les explico el color con cada cara del cubo. Por ejemplo, si es amarillo, ir viendo que animales tienen color amarillo! Si es azul, que cosas de la naturaleza hay con ese color, así con mas opciones . Es ahí cuando ellos participan diciendo ejemplos como; abeja, jirafa, león, etc. Y así es como van saliendo las posturas.

La verdad es que es un tema muy extenso, incluso se puede dividir en dos o tres clases si es que vamos varias veces a la semana en esta institución, o simplemente podemos limitarlo a los colores primarios con los niños que cursan de primaria baja.

El chiste de todo esto no es solo que conozcan los colores y aprendan posturas con ellos, sino verlo como algo divertido. ¿Qué tal si después de ver varios colores ponemos una canción y cada que le pongamos pausa todos se quedan congelados en una postura? Suena bien ¿No? De esta manera, ellos también van asimilando los colores con otras cosas que también les gusten y no se limiten a lo que ya conocen.

Puede ser una gran herramienta para comentarles que debemos apreciar todos los
colores ya que todos tienen algo lindo. Así también evitamos el típico conflicto entre ellos de color es mejor que otro, o cual esta feo y cual es bonito. El resultado de hacer énfasis en esto, es que con el paso de los días y la constancia con que se les recuerde, es que después ellos mismos empiezan a decir, – el color que te toque de cojín esta bien- o a ser más pacientes en cuanto a esto y no enojarse si tal vez ya no alcanzaron un color que querían, ya que siempre habría otra oportunidad para que les toque.

Esta bien tener un color favorito claro, pero no quitarle el valor a los demás. Al final
nuestros gustos personales son los que nos hacen únicos y resaltan nuestra hermosa

Un tip extra es que podemos utilizar también es el juego del semáforo KAY con esos
colores. Como verán hay muchas maneras de que podamos llevar una clase con este tema y no es solo cosa de un día sino que lo podemos utilizar varias veces con diferentes versiones! Que divertido!

Aquí dejo un ejemplo de como hacer un cubo con hojas de colores para no gastar tanto
sino podemos hacerlo. Recuerden que si son recicladas mejor!

Love what you are reading? Check out the Kidding Around Yoga website, or better yet, sign up for a KAY teacher training and spread the love of kids yoga in YOUR town!

Balance – Body, Mind, and Spirit

When you think of balance, what do you think of? A ballerina delicately perched on toe point? A tightrope walker? Maybe a waiter carrying a platter of dishes? Being able to physically balance is a vital part of functioning as a human. If you can’t balance, you can’t walk, run, bike, or even sit upright! But, of course, having balance is more than avoiding a fall. There is a more abstract definition of balance.

The word yoga originates in Sanskrit from the word yoke, as in union or connection. In yoga we bring together strength and flexibility, the inhale and exhale, reaching up and rooting down, the light and dark. Yoga is a balance between two seemingly opposite forces. When we immerse in our yoga practice, we are ultimately practicing balance in all of its forms. Children often easily recognize the physical balancing postures (and love the challenge of them), but explaining the more nuanced balance ideas is sometimes more difficult.

So start with what they know! Practice fun balance poses with them. Some favorites are:

Encourage them to start by using the wall or a chair (or a friend) to help them stay upright until they have the confidence to perform the postures all by themselves.

Learning balance also requires concentration. Do an experiment: have kids come into tree pose while following you with their eyes as you wander through the room. Then have them try it again with their eyes on you while you stand perfectly still. Which was easier? To help kids find focus on their own, have them place a pompom or coin about 2 feet in front of them on the floor. This is now their drishti, their focal point. Their gaze should only be at their drishti. After they practice their balance posture using the drishti, ask your students how their mind felt. Chances are, they will answer that they can’t feel their mind or their mind feels still. Exactly! Mentally focusing on a drishti while physically working to stay balanced gives your monkey mind a brief respite. (This works for adults, too! Try it – you’ll probably get a break from thinking about your grocery list or those music lyrics that have been bugging you all day).

Want more balancing fun? Play Yoga Jenga! Using a Jenga game (if you don’t already have one, make a trip to a thrift shop). On about 2/3 of the blocks, write the name of a balance pose. Then stack up the blocks and start playing. Each player takes a turn pulling out a block. If it is blank, they simply place it on top, just like the original game. But, if there is a pose written on the block, they must first perform the pose (on both sides, if applicable) before placing the block back on top.

Now it’s time to explore the other side of balance – balancing busy-ness and calm, balancing emotions, and balancing time. A cool way to introduce this is to invite the kids (and you, too) to play KooKoo Head. When you say “go”, everyone loudly lists everything, everything, that they’ve done all day, that they’ve thought all day, and that they’re planning to do all day. If they run out of things to say, just repeat “blah blah blah” over and over until you call time, usually about 1-2 minutes is plenty. How did that feel? Was your mind racing? Were you inundated with noise and stimuli? This is the busy-ness your mind has to tread in nearly all day, everyday. To balance out this chaos, spend some time settling the mind through mindful breathing practices and through meditation. You can also encourage your kids to strike a balance between being a “couch potato” watching YouTube videos and playing video games and racing from activity to activity, lesson to lesson. Both activity and stillness are important to our mental health, but we must find that sweet spot that keeps us energized yet calm.

Finally, before you can expect your children to have a balanced life, you must walk-the-walk yourself. Take some time and examine your daily schedule. Is it balanced? Does just looking at it make you stressed? Has your to-do list taken over your life? Time to take a moment, take a breath, and find balance.

Love what you are reading? Check out the Kidding Around Yoga website, or better yet, sign up for a KAY teacher training and spread the love of kids yoga in YOUR town!

Winter and the Earth Element

What is the earth element?

          I heard that the groundhog saw his shadow this year, which means 6 more weeks of winter. You would never know it though, where I live: here in California, it seems that spring has already sprung! Even so, the days are still sort of short and we still have weeks before spring and months before summer. Winter is still here in the northern hemisphere, and it is a great opportunity to practice with the qualities of the earth element in mind. We might not be able to do Snowga in Coastal California, but we can take barefoot walks on the beach and experience the earth element as we feel the sand on our soles.

          Yes, sand is part of the earth element, which takes many forms. Before you talk about the qualities – patience, stability, heaviness, slow, dark – see if your yogis know what you mean when you mention the earth element. If they don’t know, you can give them an example: earth, like soil in the garden. What are some other forms of earth in nature? Mountains, sand on the beach, and rocks are some. You might mention briefly the other elements: water, air, fire (and some traditions consider space an element, while others include wood). I like to stick to a simple scheme of four elements. Give them an overview: what is water like? Flowing, wet? What is fire like? Hot, bright? What about earth?

          I tend to think of earth as low and slow. I also think of it as solid (except when it is lava, but then lava might be considered a mixture of earth, water, and fire. Then it becomes solid and here’s a moment where kids can learn that lava makes earth). This begs to be explored through an earth salutation!

Earth Salutation

          Begin in CHILD pose, which we can refer to as SEED pose here to stick with the theme. Imagine you are a SEED waiting in the dark earth to sprout. Inhale, lift up your bottom and raise arms up toward the sky in SPROUT pose. Exhale, slide hands forward and slither into COBRA; stay for an inhale, then exhale, roll over onto your back and bring knees to chest. Inhale, stretch out into TWIG pose and exhale, roll back over onto your mat. Inhale, SPHINX pose; exhale SEED. Inhale, sit up into FLOWER. Please feel free to modify to suit your little yogis!


Poses and props

          If you want to keep it simple and just teach some poses that help yogis embody the earth element, here are some: TREE, WARRIOR, TRIANGLE, RAG DOLL, CHILD, SQUAT. Why are these earthy? Simply because they either require you to activate the legs to root down into the earth or they bring you low to the earth. These actions help yogis get grounded and bring some stillness into their practice (another quality of earth).

          Most young kids love quick movements, loud sounds, and big expressions, both vocal and physical. That’s why one aspect of earth I find useful in teaching kids is to help them experience and practice slow movements. Props can be handy in these situations, for instance: kids stand in a circle, each one in GODDESS pose. Put on some slow music, or just have silence if that suits the group. One yogi starts with a yoga block or some other prop in both hands; slowly, they shift to one side (let’s say the left) and hand it to the person on their left. The prop progresses around the circle in this way. Make sure everyone keeps both feet firmly on the ground. This can also be done with a different standing pose, such as WARRIOR.

          A more challenging form of this activity can be done lying on backs with legs up to the sky. For the earth theme, I call this posture ROOT pose, since there is much focus on engaging the core and stabilizing the upper body where it contacts the ground. Have the yogis arrange themselves in a circle with feet pointing toward the center of the circle. Then everyone extends legs up to the sky; these are our tree branches stretching up! Get a bean bag or something similarly soft and have them pass it in one direction around the circle using their feet. You can play music – think of one of our KAY favorites, Orange You Grateful. One of my favorite songs on the elements is The Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water, Return. Whatever you do, remember to remind your yogis to notice the parts of their body that are in contact with the earth. That’s the real felt experience of the earth element.

The elements in urban settings

          Yoga is so much about connection, and that’s why I think that using the idea of the elements can be a powerful tool: we are all connected by the elements of nature that comprise us. In nature, it is usually easier to sense and experience this, while in an urban setting, it takes some creativity to see those aspects of nature. If you teach in a city that has some nice parks, it might be lovely to offer a class in the park. If the beach is an option, the contact with the sand can be nice, as long as it’s not so windy. Other times, it makes more sense to bring relics of the earth element to the class: stones to hold during meditation, a small tub of sand for yogis to plunge their hands in.  Make it your own! Go for walks and look around: what is solid, stable, heavy, slow, and dark? Let the earth element bring an awareness to your yoga and your time off the mat and outside of the classroom!

Love what you are reading? Check out the Kidding Around Yoga website, or better yet, sign up for a KAY teacher training and spread the love of kids yoga in YOUR town!


Peace = Power


Last week, on February 14, 2018, our nation watched in horror as news revealed the details of yet another school shooting. On a day celebrated annually as a day of love, our nation and the people of this Florida community witnessed an act devoid of love. They experienced anything but peace.

All over social media we see “prayers and condolences” offered to those touched by this act of violence because, for many, there are no words. As a nation, we’re in shock, and don’t truly know what to think, feel, or do first to prevent future occurrences.

We Weep
As parents, we weep with those parents, and for those parents. We weep because we now fear sending our own children to school, and we don’t know how to protect them.

As educators and administrators, we can’t imagine the pain of losing beloved students, and possibly even guilt from not being able to protect them. In WV, we weep because our educators are being devalued when to some children, a teacher may be the only advocate in their life.

As therapists, clergy, counselors, and role models, we weep for the loss of peace, hope, and for the brokenness that now exists. We weep because it seems there is never enough time, enough resources, or enough of us to help each child in need of our services.

As community members we weep because the dynamics of families are forever changed when tragedy occurs. We weep because we grieve the life and hope children bring to a community, and now so many of them are gone or hurting. We weep because a school, a safe-haven in our community will now be a permanent memorial of that day. Yes, I said “our community” because we’re all part of one greater community.

As a nation, we collectively weep. (I’ll refrain from inserting political comments here.)

As families we weep. We are so “connected” that we’re disconnected from what’s truly going on with our children. Gadgets outnumber family members, children are babysat by TV, and we hope they learn valuable life lessons from the backseat as we shuttle from place to place.

​We weep for the loss of values, family time, and the need for mental health services because so many children are the victims of trauma – in their own homes. Our nation’s teachers have a most difficult job.

Finding Peace

There are times it seems our nation will never find peace. It seems a very real possibility our children may grow up in a world where they feel unsafe, busyness equates success, and connections are made through Wi-Fi signals.

What can we do? A number of things, and I’m really only here to talk about one: choosing peace.

  1. We can remember and teach our children that peace begins with me. Peace begins with you. Peace belongs to everyone.
  2. Peace is a choice and a commitment. We can extend grace where it may be undeserved. We can hold compassion for those who are hurting, and their outward actions or lifestyle reflect their inner turmoil. We can be friendly to the unfriendly. Disregard those who are unkind and take little to nothing personally.
  3. We can teach our children to pause before they speak, act, or give energy to negative thought patterns. Give them a checklist of values, ethical guidelines, or scriptures through which to filter all behavior—then practice it ourselves.
  4. Choose to feel the collective sorrows of our nation and show our children how they can be part of the change. Don’t turn off the news, make a blanket Facebook post, and insert head in sand. Have the difficult conversations. Be real with them and then show them how to livein peace. What ways can your family get involved in the betterment of your community? Who can you serve with your time and resources?
  5. Slow down. Pay attention. Play with the children in your lives. Listen to the story beneath the story when others speak. Meditate and pray. Seek guidance and remain open to change.

This is longer than planned, and if you’ve made it this far, thank you. I wrote this from the heart after a series of conversations with my 9-year-old, who has his own challenges emotionally, and a social media comment gone wrong about how we can take action.

I’ve learned, and I pray my children learn, that peace is more powerful than violence, anger, greed, or hatred. A hug is more powerful than a hit, as my son said in different words at age 4.

Spreading peace begins with each one of us choosing peace personally.

  • It begins with each one of us deciding we are here for more than our nightly shows and personal gratification.
  • It begins with every human knowing they are here for a purpose, and only they can uniquely fulfill that purpose, so they get up off their glutes and use their skills, time, and resources to affect change.
  • Peace begins with each of us not taking everything so personally, being impeccable with our words, and staying focused on our unique mission (aka, stay in your lane).

What am I doing?

Personally, my family is a work in progress. As a divorced mom of two, we often have times of unrest. It’s not easy, and it’s not always pretty (or peaceful). I work a day job, and I teach yoga a few nights a week. This limits my time with the kids, and we do our very best to fill our time together with as much quality as possible. I am fiercely dedicated to raising children who love themselves and others, value family, and are dedicated to fulfilling their purpose in this world by actively using their skills and resources.

I’m using my skills as a yoga teacher to train others to share this discipline and practice with their future students. I’m teaching them how to apply the ethical guidelines to their own lives as well as to their teaching. I’m doing my best to teach them effective communication. I hope and pray the implementation of these tools helps them live more peacefully.

I also get the opportunity to be part of a movement in WV to train our elementary educators to share meditation, mindfulness, and movement through yogic tools with the children and families within their circle of influence. We are trying to train as many educators in the state by the end of the 2017-2018 school year as possible. These educators will gain these tools personally and put them into practice in classrooms statewide within weeks of their training. Each one will be certified to teach Kidding Around Yoga in their community.

This is how I can help. It’s all I know to do. I can make my workplace(s) a mission field for peace. I can’t reach every child, so I share from my experience and empower others to teach children how to live peaceful lives. That’s powerful.

Peace begins with me. Peace begins with you. Peace belongs to everyone. May the words and actions of my life contribute to the collective pursuit of peace. This is (one) of my prayers.

Love what you are reading? Check out the Kidding Around Yoga website, or better yet, sign up for a KAY teacher training and spread the love of kids yoga in YOUR town!




Family Yoga Night

I can’t imagine a better way to create connection with your loved ones than putting together a family yoga session.

Our gym holds family yoga on a weekly basis, so instilling the same regularity in a home practice only makes sense. While I do enjoy the gym sessions, it’s age-based, and they do not include partner poses. Sometimes the lack of something inspires us to create our own perfect practice.

Here are some ideas:

Start with breath
We all know how to breathe right? And if we are teachers of yoga, no doubt we’ve had the talk with our kiddos about deep breaths through the tough times of life. So for family yoga night, spin that breath work into a fun ‘om’ harmony. See how beautiful you can harmonize as a family.

From sitting to standing
Usually, your practice will begin in seated position, so to get to your feet, work in a yoga pose skit of the weekend activities. Will you be walking the dog, feeding the cat, climbing mountains, planting trees, going for a boat ride, buying a pet turtle? See what I’m doing here?

Sun salutation
After you’ve reached standing position, it’s time to get the blood flowing. Introduce the sun salutation flow, and then let each person in the family attempt to lead that flow. You will definitely be warmed up by the end of this part of your practice.

Partner poses
The body of your session will be partner poses. Oh my goodness. This is going to be fun. Each of these poses combines stretch and touch, and some require balance. Relying on your partner to help you loosen your limbs! You can start with floor poses and work your way up to standing. And if you need any additional ideas, just enter a search for kid-friendly partner poses in your favorite Internet search engine.

• Rib-Splitting Seated Triangle



• Buddy Boat



• Sailboat




• Back to Back Twist




• Double Dog




• Open Heart





Family savasana
After the final partner pose, move everyone into savasana. One idea for this time of mindfulness, is to take your family on their dream vacation. Once you’ve led the relaxation of all body parts, and eyes are closed, verbally direct your loved ones on an imaginary journey to their ultimate vacation. What are the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings involved on this journey? Provide a soft voice instructing them in their choices to be made. Have them tuck this idyllic vacation away for future retrieval in chaotic moments.

After you’ve connected in this time of movement and mindfulness, you can spend the rest of the evening relaxing, maybe choose a meaningful movie to watch together, cook a healthy dinner together, or just spend time reflecting individually about the practice you’ve just shared.

My experience with yoga has taught me that mindfully slowing down, breathing deeply, stretching, are all practices we NEED to incorporate regularly. We all carry tension throughout the day, even our littles. When we practice as a family, we teach our children, and we learn their needs. What a loving way to spend an evening.

**Partner Pose photos are from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture**

Love what you are reading? Check out the Kidding Around Yoga website, or better yet, sign up for a KAY teacher training and spread the love of kids yoga in YOUR town!

Hibernation Hatha

The darker days and colder temperatures of winter make us all want to hibernate, right? Well, maybe. Sometimes when kids have less outdoor time during the winter months, they get restless! One way to deal with this is to let them get their energy out so they are ready for their Secret Garden (which we can call our Hibernation Haven/Cave/Station). Another way is to create a relaxing ambience since kids often respond so well to their environment: set the lights low or bring in artificial candles, nightlights, paper lanterns, or glow-in-the dark star stickers to light up the room.

But wait! If they aren’t quite ready to plop down and unwind, a little pre-hibernation prep is in order. Explain to your yogis that some animals fatten up by eating a lot before winter comes. Then play a version of Toe-ga with pom-poms  or some other small objects to represent nuts. Put on music and, using only your toes, see who brings the most nuts back to their cave (yoga mat). A variation on this activity can be done with kids walking around in downward dog and picking up the ‘nuts’ with one hand or toes. It makes for an even more challenging game!

Are they still bouncing off the walls? Ask them if they know what some animals do instead of hibernate. If you live in a place where there are particular animals that leave or nest there for the winter, you can use this as a clue. If they don’t know the word migrate, this is a great opportunity to teach it. Let them move across the floor in groups as birds, butterflies, whales, or some other animal that migrates; use traditional yoga poses or make up poses or moves for each animal. Dance teacher Kate Kuper has created a sweet little song for kids to practice ‘flying’ across the floor as birds. It’s a great way to teach spatial awareness and turn-taking. She doesn’t mention migration in it, but you can adapt it to the theme.

Are we ready to relax in our hibernation stations yet? Or are there some wiggles left in your yogis? The next idea you can spring on them is this: what are some ways to deal with the cold (besides fattening up, as mentioned above)? Move around to warm up! Curl up, seek shelter, blow into your hands. Maybe start with a dynamic song to help them get their body heat up. Some Kidding Around Yoga favorites of mine are: Every Little Cell, Here Comes a Little Yogi, and Yoga Slide, but any song that fits the mood should be good, even if you just do a game of Freeze Dance. Tell them that some animals adapt to winter rather than hibernate or migrate. Many adapt by growing thicker fur, seek shelter, or stay active; humans are animals too! They can use physical activity to stay warm in cold weather, too.

Next, a little hand-warming pranayama helps to wind down the mood. It’s simple: deep breath in followed by a slow exhale into cupped palms. Repeat a few times, then prepare for a short huddle. Do your yogis know about how penguins huddle together for heat? Do a group huddle, perhaps with each kid in a standing pose to add a little challenge and focus. Emphasize respect and gentle contact to prevent kids from crashing against one another or knocking others down. In light of that, it might not be the best activity for very young kids – use your judgement on that.

Finally, when all are ready to enter their Hibernation Haven (or cave, or station), have them lie down and imagine their warm, cozy lair where they can rest from the bright chaos of their day. Make it your own as you talk them through it…or rather, let them make it their own as they imagine what is most relaxing and restful for themselves. When they come out of hibernation, it might be nice to add Bear Breath; I use the guidance for this pranayama from Yoga Pretzels (cards) by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish.

If you’re able to, supplement the class with a book on hibernation and winter. I know that I love to curl up with a book on dark, cold winter days. And of course, as a yoga teacher, please remember to give yourself a moment to ‘hibernate’ on your own, even if it’s just a moment to rest, close your eyes, and let go of all effort from your body and mind. You deserve it – teaching kids yoga takes a lot of attention and vivacity!

A Sense of Belonging

A few years ago, I participated in a course called “The Happiness Program.” One of the activities we did was to go to every member of the group, look them in the eyes and say, “I belong to you.” The whole situation brought out awkwardness, shy smiles, and some giggles. After all, what does that really mean to ‘belong’ to everyone? At first it might sound like surrendering your power to other people, but as the course progressed, it became more clear that it was about acknowledging how profound power can be shared and activated in a communal way.

In a kids’ yoga class, I find it best to rephrase this idea.  In the age of smartphones, I thought it would be appropriate to take the word ‘selfie’ and recast it as the acronym S.E.L.F.I.E. and break it down to some facets of sangha: Sharing, Energy, Learning, Feelings, Inspiration, and Entertainment. How does this define a sense of belonging? All these aspects of sangha reflect how the yoga class is not just for isolated individuals, but for a group of kids that ‘belong’ to that class each time they come together.

Depending on your class and your own yoga practice, you might find your own creative ways to break down the concepts of S.E.L.F.I.E. Feel free to modify some of the ideas I mention here. All the ideas support one another. For instance, Sharing involves using your Energy perhaps to Inspire or Entertain. Sharing can also be about helping others in their own Learning. Working with Feelings can release stuck Energy or even Inspire someone to take action to Learn or Share something with a friend.

If you prefer not to mention smartphones in class, just use a few of the concepts and create your own acronym! Your yogis might be too young to have or care about smartphones; on the other hand, if they are older kids (and especially if they are teens), they probably know a lot about smartphones and selfies.  However you combine these concepts and put them into context, they are all about yoga as a communal, rather than a solitary practice. Here I’ll share just a few ways to combine these ideas in pairs.

Sharing and Learning: What better way for yogis to learn than by sharing what they know? Let them work in pairs or small groups so they can take turns leading one another in their own unique version of Sun Salutations. If they’re fairly new to yoga, wait a few classes until they are comfortable with the elements of a sun salutation. Otherwise, give them some time for free practice so they can create their own sequence, then allow enough time afterwards for each person in the pairs or groups to lead their fellow yogis.

For younger yogis, I find that partner poses work best to explore the concept of learning through sharing; this way, they can focus on one or a few poses, rather than a complicated sequence. If the kids are familiar with some kid-friendly partner poses, I let them choose. Otherwise, I usually use yoga cards that illustrate partner poses; pair the kids up and either show the entire class one card so everyone can do the pose at the same time, or pick out 3-5 cards to circulate around the class so that each pair has a chance to try each one.

Energy and Feelings:  A lot of people think of yoga as a tool for relaxation, but it can also be a tool to energize a tired body and mind. Yoga can also be a way to navigate the spectrum of human emotion as it affects a person’s energy. Kids know that when you’re sad, you’re usually tired and when you’re angry or excited, you seem to have more energy. The challenge is to help them identify these feelings or energetic states, then manage them in a constructive way.

Some of my favorite ways to help young yogis work with their emotions and energy are by adding these elements to the practice: sun salutations, pranayama, and laughing yoga. Sun salutations are not only a great warm up to use at the beginning of class, but also a great way to lift up tired yogis. Younger yogis especially love going a little faster with each round of sun salutation! The activity above also energizes a class as yogis talk and guide each other their own unique salutation.

Pranayama practiced can be included during the sun salutation if the kids know how to use ujjayi breath. Otherwise, there are so many creative ways to bring pranayama into the class. What does pranayama mean? And what does it have to do with emotions, energy, and sangha? You might know that the breath is linked to the mind and emotions; we can manage emotions and energy by changing our breathing and this can help kids relate to one another with clear minds and calm attitudes. A simple example: imagine a time when you were angry. Was it a time that it would have been easy to be friendly or to make a good decision? Probably not! The next time you find yourself in a similar situation, try some of these breathing techniques so that your anger or frustration don’t make you forget to be kind and gentle with others.

Inspiration and Entertainment: When I myself was just a teen, I found myself in a yoga class where the teacher led us into Scorpion pose (Vrishchikasana). My knees began to bend as I lowered my feet towards my head. The teacher came over and slowly guided my feet toward my head until soles rested on crown. What a feeling! When I was steady, he looked up at the others who stood watching and said in a half-joking tone, “Come on, let’s all work on it. Yoga is not a spectator sport!”

While some might be inspired by another student achieving a difficult pose, another might feel intimidated or discouraged. If you have the time and the means, allow for a yoga photo day so that your yogis get some time to take photos of each other doing favorite poses. If no cameras or phones are available to do this, allow them to draw the poses by hand or let them find images of yoga poses online or in magazines.  It could be a posture that they simply enjoy, or one that they have worked on and are proud to be able to do; they could also choose poses they want to do but struggle with, or even poses that they dislike but want to try anyway. Find a way to display the photos, on a wall if they are printed or online if they are digital. Then go around the circle at the end of class and let students mention a pose that inspires them. Keep the photos on display for weeks or months if you can and refer back to them from time to time to help the kids reflect on whether or not their ‘pose of inspiration’ changes over time.

A more appropriate activity for young yogis involves sharing stories. Young children need inspiration from their peers as well as their mentors, role models and teachers; they also thrive on entertainment to keep that inspiration alive. Just as kids’ yoga has been on the rise, kids’ yoga literature has been riding that same wave. There are now many inspiring and entertaining yoga books for young people. If you have access to some, allow for time in class for yogis to form small groups and read the books to one another. At the end of class, each one can share something from the book that inspired them. Alternatively, reserve some class time for each yogi to create their own BLISS, a short yoga story that they tell with postures to accompany.

Interaction: If there’s one thing that I both enjoy and lament about yoga for adults is that it can be so solitary that it is often isolating. People show up to class, roll out their mats, silently follow the teacher’s guidance, then pack up and leave, often without saying much or making eye contact with anyone else. Sometimes that’s what I look forward to, while other times it feels lonely. Teaching kids yoga has inspired me to reflect on how sangha can be spontaneous, fun, and creative! I owe so many teaching ideas to kids I’ve taught–they aren’t just my yoga students, but I also belong to them as their teacher!