After teaching kids’ yoga for nearly a decade, I have come up with a list of the most successful yoga resources I have come across. I also like these resources because they are sustainable and cost-effective! Also, each of these resources can be used a variety of ways to teach children about the benefits of yoga and mindfulness.
1. Breathing Teddy
Let’s rock our soft toy to sleep.
Ask your child to lie down and put their favourite soft toy on their tummy.
Ask them to inhale deeply for a count of 3.
Then, ask them to exhale for a count of 4.
Prompt them to watch the teddy rise and fall as they breathe in and out.
Do 5 to 10 times.
Give your child a breathing spinner. They can practice taking a big inhale through their nose, and then let all the air out of their mouth blowing the spinner around. This is a good strategy for children to teach them self-regulation and calming strategies when they are angry or upset.
Blowing bubbles is a fun way for children to bring self-awareness to their breath. When blowing bubbles, explicitly teach children to take a breath in through their nose, filling their belly with air, and then gently blow out. You can also teach children to regulate their out-breath by doing it slowly and controlled – explain to them if they blow too hard the bubble will burst!
4. Feathers and Flowers
Collect different coloured feathers and flowers. If you do not have the option to do this, just have your child visualise their favourite flower.
Ask your child to hold the flower in one hand.
Take a deep breath in. (Model this for your child) To help kids learn how to take a deep breath, ask them to put their hands on their bellies and feel the rise and fall of their tummy.
Inhale slowly for a count of 3 and take a BIG whiff of the flower’s scent.
Hold your breath for a count of 3.
Then, slowly exhale through the mouth and while exhaling blow gently on the feather, exhaling for a count of 4.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
5. Hula Hoops
This activity helps kids work on listening, coordinating, and strategising skills. It works best with smaller children. Have children stand in a big circle. Place a hula-hoop on one child’s arm and have them join hands with the child next to them. Ask all the other children to join hands to close up the circle. The objective of the game is to pass the hula-hoop all the way around the circle without unclasping hands. Children will have to figure out how to manoeuvre their bodies all the way through the hoop to pass it on.
6. Monkey Puzzle written by Julia Donaldson
This is a great story to read to children to get them familiar with different yoga poses. As you read along with the story, encourage children to make the different animal poses. The key here is not to have a right or wrong way of doing the poses but encouraging children to “make shapes” with their bodies thinking about the different animals. For example, if they are making an elephant ask students what they know about elephants – are they big or small? Are snakes standing or laying down?
Another amazing books are “My Daddy is a Pretzel” written by Baron Baptiste
7. In my Heart written by Jo Witek
In my Heart is a great book for children to explore and discuss different emotions like happiness, sadness, bravery and anger. This book is great as it explains how emotions feel physically on the inside and leads to great discussion with children about their feelings to develop emotional vocabulary.
8. Yoga for Feelings written by Jess Farrelly & Illustrations by Mim Meirelles
Yoga for Feelings story book is used during my classes to get children to identify with the pictures and emotions and build vocabulary. It’s great because children can easily identify with the emotions of anger and calm, scared and brave, shy and loved, and sad and happy. The book aims to teach children that when they feel these different types of emotions they can do yoga poses to help them “move” through different emotions. For example, if they are feeling sad there are poses that will uplift their mood, increase energy and have the potential to make them feel happy again!
9. Yoga Cards
Yoga Cards are a great way to help children discover different poses. My Yoga Cards (purchase in shop) have been designed to include essential poses, breathing exercises and easy to follow sequences and meditation. They can be used on their own for children to practice different yoga poses, learning positive affirmations or thinking, or you can use them to play various games! (See blog entitled How to use Yoga Cards with Kids)
10. Yoga Mats
Yoga mats can be an investment; however, I believe they are a great way to teach children about personal space, boundaries, and provide a visual that lets children connect into a safe space. Setting up a calm, safe and relaxing environment is important when teaching yoga, and the mat provides a visual for children to start to calm down their nervous system, begin to use a softer voice and tap into their inner world. I like to spread my yoga mats in a circle for kid’s yoga, to support a safe sharing space, but also to enhance the teacher-student relationship.
I hope these are as helpful for you as they are for me, and help you towards your own kid’s yoga teaching journey!