One of my favorite themes for a kids’ Yoga class is that of pets. It’s an easily relatable subject with a lot of poses already built in. Add some music and some kidding around, and you’ve got a great children’s Yoga class!
What Kind of Pet? : Begin by talking about a pet you have (or pretend to have). As you talk about it, take the pose of that animal and describe why it is a good pet and what it needs to be happy. So, if you were describing a dog, you could alternate between Downward Facing Dog and Upward Facing Dog while talking about dogs. Other animals that have built-in poses are Turtle (Kurmasana), Cat (Bidalasana) , Snake (Bhujangasana), Frog (Bhekasana), Fish (Matsyasana), Spider (Karnapidasana), and Bird (Svarga Dvidasana or Bakasana). It is also fun to describe animals that would NOT make good pets and why, like Lion (Simhasana) or Crocodile (Makarasana). As you talk, the children each do the pose, too. Then it is a child’s turn to describe a good (or ridiculous) pet while the rest take the pose. This passes all along the circle so everyone gets a turn. If someone comes up with an animal that doesn’t have a pose, then just make one up on the spot!
How Much is That Doggy In the Window?: We all know the old song, and it is perfect to add to your kids’ yoga music repertoire. When teaching the song, it’s helpful to have little posters to remind the class what each verse is. Here are some starter verses (remember to take the animal’s pose while singing):
“How much is that doggy in the window? The one with the waggle tail? How much is that doggy in the window? I do hope that doggy’s for sale.” Now continue on with: Kitten/Very sharp nails, Snake/Thin as a rail, Fish/Pretends she’s a whale, Birdy/Wings like a sail, Turtle/ Slow as a snail
Dog House: I love to do this one for family Yoga, but it works very well with kids, too. In family groups or teams of 2-4, have the tallest person come into Downward Facing Dog. The next tallest does Downward Facing Dog underneath the first, and the smallest person makes the bottom Downward Facing Dog. Everyone is stacked up. You could see how many dogs could pile up (safely, of course).
Dog Show: Print out pictures of dogs doing yoga poses and with the mats in a circle, place the cards at the top of the mats. If you don’t have enough pictures, those mats will be “choice” poses. Then start the music. I like to play “Who Let the Dogs Out?”. While the music plays, kids walk around the circle, and when the music stops they find a mat and do the pose that the dog in the picture is doing. Hold the pose, make some dog sounds, and then start walking the circle when the music plays again.
Cat Chase: Sitting closely in a circle, knee-to-knee, children pass two stuffed animals around the circle using only their feet. Use Boat Pose (Navasana) for this. One animal is a stuffed cat and the other is a stuffed dog. The goal is to keep the cat ahead of the dog so she’s not caught. If the cat is caught, then try again the other direction.