15 FUN WAYS TO HELP CHILDREN STAY LONGER IN YOGA POSES
The benefits of yoga poses increase the more you stay in them. But staying for a long time in a yoga pose is not easy for kids simply because, for them, it becomes boring, unless you do some of the following!
- Count – You can count to 10 when you bake a Yoga Pizza (Seated Forward Bend with legs apart). When you drive under a yoga tunnel (Bridge Pose) with your imaginary Yoga Car (Seated Forward Bend), countdown to launching a Yoga Spaceship (Chair Pose with hands raised) or you can even count really, really slowly when you are in a Yoga Tortoise.
- Sing – This is simply the best for younger kids! Try to find a song for every single pose. You can always invent songs on the spot, the kids won’t know if you can’t carry a tune!
- Sound effects and animal sounds – It can make the same pose be a totally different animal or object, and it definitely makes everything much more interesting, exciting, and fun!
- Balance animal toys on the head, back, arms, legs or tummies whilst in yoga poses. If you stay still so they won’t fall down.
- Tell your students interesting facts about animals, objects, cultures or different countries. Sometimes your students will know more about it than you, and you can all share facts and discuss it, all while you keep holding the pose! Older kids will also be interested to hear about the amazing body they live in and how yoga can make it all just awesome!
- Say faster, higher, more, one more pose or do it again! If you are in a Traveling Pose, you can tell the kids “Faster! The _____ (place) is very far! We’ll never get there if we keep going this slow!” In the Sun Dance (Sun Salutation), you can say “One more time, this time double speed!” While doing the Candle Pose (Shoulder Stand) you might want to guide them “Higher! Try to reach the ceiling with your toes!” etc.
- Interaction between the kids – Some kids can be Yoga Tables while the others sit around them in Yoga chairs for dinner. Yoga Flowers and buzzing bees, dog owners walking their Yoga Down Dogs, Yoga Animals and Zoo Keepers, Yoga Trees and Yoga Monkeys and Yoga Bananas are all great options. Any partner yoga pose or group interaction will help the kids to stay in the poses for longer. It’s always more fun to do yoga together!
- Depend on each other – You can practice relaxation with each child resting their head on the belly of the person before them, we call it Anaconda Snake Relaxation. Or try having some of the kids go under a tunnel made out of Down Dog Poses or crawl under any other pose.
- Use props – You can pass a ball from one to another while staying standing in Yoga Tree or in any other pose, slide a ball down all the Yoga Slides (Inclined Plane Pose), hold an umbrella while in the Dancers Pose, wear a crown and hold a wand while in the Yoga Prince or Princess (Chair Pose), put a tablecloth or yoga mat on to make a Yoga Table, or be covered by a blanket during relaxation. This little flare makes the pose much more engaging.
- Pat the animals – The kids love it! Go around and pat all the Yoga Dogs or Yoga Bunnies and tell them how cute they are, or that they are a good dog or bunny. The kids are sure to stay still in the pose waiting for their turn to be patted.
- Take pictures – You can do it with an imaginary camera, or a real one. The kids need to stay still in the poses for you to take a good picture!
- Make it varied and interesting – Light all the Yoga Candles in Shoulder Stand and blow them out, water Yoga Flowers or Yoga Seeds (Child Pose) that will slowly grow into trees, check how steady the Yoga Mountains are by gently pushing them to test their stability. Fix Yoga Tables and Chairs, ride Yoga Bicycles upside down in Shoulder Stand and then continue to walk, run, surf, snowboard, rollerblade, skateboard, jump, hop and skip all on the ceiling or sky being upside down! All whilst staying in Shoulder Stand!
- Combine poses – Start in Yoga Tree, for example, and then have an eagle in the tree or a butterfly, owl, or even an elephant. Just by changing your hand positions.
- Poses Story – Make up, or let the kids make up a Yoga Story and have the children stay in certain pose until the next Yoga Animal or Yoga Object comes up in the story. If the story is interesting enough, it will motivate the kids to stay in the pose. You can even make a rule that the storyteller can only tell his or her story while everyone is in a pose. We usually co-create the story; each student telling a part of the story using one yoga pose, and the next student continuing the story from there.
- Yoga Freeze – Play music and freeze for as long as you can in different poses. You can call names of specific poses, or let the kids choose poses one at a time by calling out their names, or give more general instructions like “Freeze in a pose that will make you stand on one leg” or “Freeze in your favourite pose.” You can also play the freeze game in a more creative way by turning the kids’ “switches” on and off, or pressing on their “buttons.” When the “switch” is on the kids can move all around the classroom in any way they want, but when you turn them off they freeze in a yoga pose. They can’t move until you switch them back on. Another way to play is to be a Yoga Wizard who turns the kids into Yoga Animals or Yoga Statues.
The real point here is that when you make it interesting children want to stay in yoga poses for longer. If your class is boring, the yoga class simply won’t take off or happen. Either the children will not come to the class or they will disturb your class and you won’t be able to teach. Be smart and be fun!
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Gopala Amir Yaffa | Co-Founder & Wizard