Before I earned a M.ed and an AMI diploma my passion for educating and children had led me down a different, yet relevant, path; I was a children’s yoga instructor. I was a children’s yoga instructor before it was really popular and the benefits of practice were well documented. When I started there was some hesitance to admit yoga into school programs, questions about the value of practice for children and, as there is even now in this age of capitalism and materialism, reluctance to spend money on a children’s program when there wasn’t something that the parents could physically, tangibly hold at the end of class.
These days yoga is everywhere and in many school programs as part of physical education and peace education. Montessori herself was interred in India for many years and her writings reflect many aspects of ashtanga, the eight limbed path of yoga.
The following article briefly outlines children’s yoga and as a bonus, I have included some nomenclature cards that I made to use in my classroom. Once the child has used the cards at the pictorial level, I introduce a yoga mat for practice and the cards can be used as a guide for physical activity. Later on, the cards can be used as part of the reading curriculum as 3-Part Cards.
What is Children’s Yoga?
Children’s yoga classes not only offer physical curriculum, they also focus on emotional, psychological, and intellectual cultivation. By using large and fine motor movements, fantasy & imaginative play, relaxation, music, art and crafts projects during a yoga class the teacher exposes children to new experiences and fosters an environment for the joyful spirit of childhood.
Benefits of Children’s Yoga:
- strengthen and build self-esteem
- use fine and gross motor skills
- improve hand to eye co-ordination
- strengthen neural pathways
- awaken and cultivate creativity
- Teach respect for self and others
Yoga with Your Kids
Summer opens up a world of adventure for families to explore and using yoga to teach children about some of the amazing transformations around them can help make your child a lifelong learner and strengthen the playfulness of your relationship.
- Metamorphosis – Teach children about the colorful butterflies around them through yoga. Have your child lay on her back hugging her knees in to her chest becoming a cocoon, then have her spread her wings as she stretches her arms and legs out away from each other like a butterfly.
- Life Cycle – During the spring and summer months as children see new plants in the garden that have grown from seeds have your child become a seed by sitting on his heels and placing his chest on his knees. Simulate the sun by rubbing his back and the rain by gently drumming your fingers on his back (a great way to nurture through touch), then let him sprout up like a tree, placing his foot against his inner leg in tree pose, stretching his arms overhead for branches. Finally he becomes a leaf from the tree and can run around, blowing in the wind and gently falling to the ground to repeat the process.
Interaction is Important
Correctly naming the yoga poses is not important, simply interacting with your child and helping her to explore movement is the key. Create ways every day to learn and move and join your child in the joy of yoga. In addition to children’s yoga classes at local yoga studios, there are some wonderful resources on the market to help you get started.
Kira Willey’s CD, “KINGS & QUEENS OF THE FOREST: YOGA SONGS FOR KIDS, VOL. 2”
Helen Purperhart’s “The Yoga Zoo Adventure: Animal Poses and Games for Little Kids”
Mary Humphrey’s “The Kids’ Yoga Book of Feelings”
Get Your Own Printables
Looking Yoga Cards for Children? Download Yoga Cards here, print out and enjoy!
*These are provided to school teachers, parents, homeschoolers and others for non-commercial use. Please do not distribute online, in print, or via email. To share, you may link directly to this post.
**It takes time and effort to create these cards and I am happy to share them with a respectful community. Please leave a comment or like this post to continue receiving free printables.