One of the more challenging yoga classes to teach is one that is full of giggling, active, distracted children. Many times, the age range in these youth classes is diverse, and Yoga instructors have to put in a lot more time planning and targeting activities to children’s needs than they would in a traditional adult session.
Using storytelling in yoga is one of the most effective ways to engage the children on a personal level while directing their physical activity with something that interests their active and eager minds. The following tips can make teaching a kids’ yoga class a fun and creative experience, rather than a stress-filled, frustrating one.
1. Use the story to pace the session. Travel and adventure stories are great for a kids’ yoga class because they contain lots of action in the beginning, which warms up little bodies, and can slow down at the end to teach a lesson and help kids relax.
2. Enhance the story with fun songs that engage the children’s attention and activity. Fast songs should accompany the beginning of the session and slower songs should be fitted in near the end. Do not be afraid to get creative, and be prepared for lots of movement during the faster songs.
3. Weave the pose series into the story by giving alternative names to traditional poses. A sun salutation pose, for example, can be re-vamped to fit into a story about a giraffe. At the same time, the downward-facing dog can double as a mountain that the story’s main character needs to climb.
4. Kids yoga sessions should meet young bodies at their level of development. Instructors should remember to hold poses for less time than a traditional adult session. Kids may also need more work on certain yogic elements, like balancing or breathing techniques, and using the story and props to re-mediate these areas is the mark of a wise instructor. A character, for example, who needs to calm down from a scary experience can encourage the kids to practice their own breathing.
5. When all else fails, get the older kids involved in their own instruction. Younger kids look up to older ones, so you can ask some of the older children to share the story and others to help demonstrate the poses. The younger children will be attentive and interested in the change-up and may pay better attention.
Remember that storytelling is just one way to make the kids’ yoga session fun. A yoga instructor with mental flexibility and creativity can help children build valuable life skills for now and the future.