Oftentimes you hear students say “I did it! It’s easy.” or “I can’t do it!” Whenever I hear that type of language I respond immediately. I remind the students who say, “It’s easy” that it’s not easy for everyone and I give them an extra challenge. In yoga there’s usually a way to make a pose more challenging by closing your eyes or reaching your arms out. When a student says, “I can’t do it” I remind them that we don’t say “can’t” in yoga and it’s called yoga practice not yoga perfect! Language is powerful and helping shape children’s language can help your kids yoga class environment.
Before conflict arises in class, I love to start with team building activities. Working together helps children bond and feel more comfortable with the group. Some great team building activities are the human knot, the hula hoop game (hold hands in circle and pass hula hoop without letting go), and people-to-people (you play music and when the music stops the student has to introduce themselves to a new person with different topics). These activities also make great ice breakers.
Partner and Group Poses
Partner poses are always so much fun! Sometimes when children pick their own partner, conflict arises. If I see a friend left out or students arguing, I immediately assign partners or have the child who feels left out be my partner. There are many ways to assign partners and create teams. Group poses are even better for class bonding. I have the students grab hands in a circle and make a human mandala by standing tall in mountain pose, reaching for their toes in standing forward fold, reaching for their toes in seated forward fold, and then reaching all the way back together as a group! I count to 3 and see if everyone can use their strength together to sit up and reach forward for their toes. This activity has been a major hit in my classes and always ends in a lot of giggles.
Rules & Expectations
As kids yoga teachers, sometimes it’s difficult for us to talk about discipline and rules. But, I think when you create clear and concise rules and expectations, your students will feel safe and comfortable throughout the session. In my after-school classes, I have the children come up with what they want out of their yoga class. For example, they might want to have fun, relax, stretch, learn how to calm down, and more. I ask them how we can go about making our awesome fun relaxing class happen. Then we make a list and all the children sign it. I think creating this guideline is helpful for you as a teacher to come back to if issues arise and as a reminder to the students of why they are there and how we can maintain an inviting environment.
I hope you enjoy your kids yoga class community with your little yogis!