Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
What is a Yoga Station?
Setting up Yoga sessions is a great way to do something a little bit different in class. A good way to keep children's attention in class is to change things up. While we learn best from repetition, it's also nice to practice in new ways from time to time. Creating Yoga stations is a great way to practice a range of different activities in a small amount of time. It also means children can move around more freely and explore. As a teacher, it is a good way to check in with different students individually too, having these stations set up means that you are able to move from person to person or group to group easier.
So, what is a Yoga station?
A yoga station is a mat that has a different activity on it. I am going to be sharing with you 11 fun ideas that you can use to create your different stations. You place the mats around the room with space between and then let the children spend time at each station practicing that activity.
How does the class work?
We enter the space together; I think this is important so, if possible, wait outside your classroom so you can all go in together. The children are going to want to start exploring straight away but you need to ask them to hold off for a moment so you can explain each station to them. The younger groups usually move around on their own and at their own pace but for my older classes I divide the time up so that they will get a chance to go to ever station - for example if I have 60 minutes and 9 stations, I give them 5 minutes at each station (and then there is time for a group relaxation at the end). At the end of the 5 minutes, I ring the singing bowl and they change station. The older group go through the stations with a partner (or as a three if odd numbers). When they are on their last station, I'll usually start tidying up what I can and setting up a circle so that they can all join together to close the class with a nice relaxation or meditation practice.
With the younger group, you really need to go with the class and encourage them to try all the different activities by practicing with them.
We usually end up all together at our book station to close class.
When can I use this class idea?
There are so many ways you can use this. You can use this to showcase what you do for events (with maybe 3 or 4 stations or a helper), you can use it in your regular classes for something fun and different, you can use it as a nice way to end a term, you can use it for family yoga classes - focusing on being together, you can use it for birthday yoga parties and so much more!
Maybe you even try creating something like this at home with the kids in your life!
What Yoga Stations could I create?
Here are 11 idea that you may like to play with. Remember, you don't need to do all of these ideas and you can create multiple stations with the same theme but different props. In my classes I have multiple pose stations with different cards for example. You may also like to work with a theme - The Winter Olympics / Summer Olympics, Christmas, Beach, Nature etc
The Book Station
This could be picture books, touch and feel books, Yoga books, Books that fit your theme!
The Drawing/ Colouring Station
I like to put one sheet of large paper here with some crayons and have everyone add what they want to it but you could also use colouring in sheets, separate pages etc. What I like about keeping it as one sheet is the children don't feel the need to 'finish'. It is a group effort, and everyone is adding something of their own to it.
The Pose Practice Station
There are so many ways you can use this station so feel free to create multiple ones. They can practice the poses on the mat, they can create their own sequence using the cards, they can play mirror my body (where partners face each other, and one leads, and one copies). You can put props on the mat for them to use and explore poses. Keep it simple.
The Partner Pose Station
Just like the pose station but this time put some ideas down for partner poses (either Yoga cards or stick figure drawings).
'Create your own Pose' station
For the 'create your own pose' station, I usually just put two blocks and give no other instruction. It is always great to see what the children come up with!
The game station
This could be anything that you have game wise. As you can see in this picture, I have pom poms and a tub for Toega and some Story Cubes (story cubes are great for creating your own story together, maybe they can add in some poses for each part of the story!).
You could have Yoga Jenga here, a memory game - anything!
The Breathing Station
On this station I put lots of fun props we can use for practicing our breathwork. This is another one that could be multiple stations easily. What I have shown here are some breathing cards where you trace the picture and breathe, some pom poms to blow across the mat maybe even using a paper straw to do so (pom pom race anyone?), a breathing ball, feathers, and a scarf.
The Balance Station
There are so many fun ways to practice balance, you could even use the wall as a prop here or a chair. You could use a Yoga strap and play walk the line or make a mini obstacle course. What I have done on this station is set up a ring toss game, except instead of throwing the rings, we stand on one leg and use our feet to put the hoops on the cones.
The massage station
The Relaxation Station
Set up a place to get cosey. This could be putting bolsters and blankets down or setting up for a certain restorative Yoga pose.
The facepainting station
Facepainting is fun and it doesn't need to be perfect! Let the kids get creative by facepainting each other's faces. You may want to check in with the adults that this is okay to do beforehand and remember not all kids will want to (and that's okay too!). This station works best at events or family yoga.
There you have it! 11 ideas for your yoga station class! Remember you do not have to set them all up! You could work with as little or as many as you would like to, changing the ideas to work for you. Think about what props you already have. How could you utilise them? What themes or activities are you already practicing in your classes? How could you use them?
Here are a few bonus ideas
As you can see the possibilities are endless! Use your imagination and have fun with it!
Let me know in the comments if you found this helpful and if you'll be trying any of these ideas!
Maybe you just thought of a fun station, let us know below!
Other Resources for Children's Yoga teachers
Free 8 week Lesson Plan!
How to engage with a child who is just not interested in your class
Teaching Gratitude to Children workshop
In our Children's Yoga and Mindfulness classes we have soo much to share, but often the students will list the games as their favourite part! Here is a list of 9 games that you may like to add into your Lesson plans that your classes will want to play over and over! Haven't got time to lesson plan? Why not check out my done for you lesson plans here.
X's and O's
Otherwise known as noughts and crosses. Make a large grid using yoga straps (or similar). There should be 9 spaces available. So two lines down, and 2 lines across, creating a box in the middle. This game needs at least eight students and yourself. That's two teams of four (and then you can join in if any of the teams need you at the end). One team is the O's and one is the X's. The idea is much like the classic but instead of drawing the X's and O's, students will use their body to play. So X's can lay down in an X shape, and O's can come into child's pose. Each team takes turns to take a space on the grid. The team to get three in a row first wins. We don't like to include competition in our yoga classes, so we don't really focus on the win, instead focus on the teamwork and playfulness. Play a few times so that everyone can get a turn, and each team has a go at being first. I would recommend this game for ages 8 up to teens.
Holding hands in a circle, pass squeezes by gently closing your hand around the person next to you. An 'electric current' you receive in one hand must come out the other. If you feel a squeeze, pass it on through to the other side. These can be passes in multiples and from both sides. If you get one from both sides at the same time it electrocutes you - so the more dramatic here, the better. Try selecting different students to start this game each time.
Fish, Stop, Go
Everyone walks around in a circle together. If one person stops, everyone stops. If one person starts walking, everyone starts walking. There is no leader so anyone can start and stop at any time. This means children must really focus and connect without words.
Follow the Leader
This can be played as a group or by having everyone partner up. Decide who the leader is (in the group, or in the partnership). The leader creates a sequence or flows freely and everyone else copies. You can give them time to create a sequence or just let them improvise on the spot. Yoga cards can be given to help, music can be played and props may be used. Give them a minute or two and then change leader. If working in partners simply switch, if in a group, be sure that everyone gets a turn at being the leader.
Who is the leader?
We love playing follow the leader, but what happen's when you don't know who the leader is? This game is played in our circle. One person leaves the room while we assign the role of the leader. The leader will be guiding the group through a sequence (made up or one you've been working on with a few improv moments). Everyone must copy the leader, without making it obvious who they are copying. Once the leader has been assigned, the person can come back into the room (we sometimes call them the Yoga detective). The leader starts and everyone copies. The Yoga detective tries to work out who is leading. If they guess wrong, the accused person comes to lay down on their mat.
This one can be very funny. For this game you will need one colorful scarf (the sensory/juggling type). Everyone sits in a circle as you (or a volunteer) stands in the middle with the scarf. You throw it up into the air, when it is in the air - everyone must laugh. This will start of as fake laughing but then very often becomes real. As soon as the scarf hits the floor, everyone must be silent. Can it be done? We are looking to improve our focus and reaction time here while reaping the benefits of laughing. Take it in turns as to who is in the middle.
What's Your Name?
This can be a fun game to play when I have a new class and I am learning peoples names. I also use this game for groups I know very well, we do this by adding in an extra challenge which I will explain in a moment. Everyone starts by standing in a circle except for one person who goes in the middle. The person in the middle has to say the name of someone else three times. If they manage this, then they get to swap places with that person. If that person, however, says the person in the middle's name - just once - then they do not move and have to try again. This is a little too easy when everyone is very well acquainted, so we add in a little extra challenge by changing our names. It can be ANYTHING! We will often go with a theme such as food, weather, planets etc.
The Sun and Shield Game
This is currently a favourite in one of my groups, they would honestly be happy to play it every week! Everyone chooses someone to be their sun, and someone to be their shield - without letting anyone know who they have chosen! You must stay as far away from your sun as possible and have your shield blocking the sun by trying to have them come between you and the sun. Sounds easy except for the fact that THEY do not know if they are a sun or a shield and they are focused on their own sun and shield (plus maybe you are their sun or shield too!). Once everyone has the hang of this, pause and ask them to pick a new sun and/or shield. Keep changing it up. This is a very high energy game so best followed up by a calmer one before ending your session with relaxation or quiet time.
Don't Wake The Dragon
One person lays in the middle of the room with a bell beside them, this is the Dragon. The Dragon is guarding the bell but is very tired. Everyone else gathers in a circle at the edges of the room. As the Dragon 'sleeps', the children must sneak up to get the bell. If the dragon hears any noise, they can wake up and scare everyone back (or they all freeze in a dragon pose/ low lunge). The games ends when some body gets the bell. They can then be the next dragon. To be sure everyone gets a turn, if they have already had a turn they may choose someone else to be the dragon.
There it is, 9 fun games you can play in your classes! I would love to know which of these you can't wait to try or perhaps you already play a similar version and have some alternate ways that you would like to share! Comment below!
Feel free to share this with other Children's Yoga teachers. If you haven't already signed up for my email, you may be interested to know that anyone who currently signs up will receive a FREE 8 week lesson plan! Check it out here. I also have many class plans and done for you courses over on my Etsy shop - here.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy!
Children are not mini adults and so a children's yoga class is not going to look the same as an adults class.
\nThere are alot of things that are different, here are a few things we need to consider when teaching yoga to children that isn't about what activities to include.
\n- Children's skeletal systems. An infant can have over 300 bones while an adult has 206. Children's bones are also softer and smaller and proportions are different.
\n- Strength. As they are still developing there is alot to consider around strength, bone mass, muscles and ligaments. Strength training in a natural way is important, for infants this is simply falling over and standing back up, for children it can be yoga, dancing or another movement practice.
\n- Children's brains are still developing. They learn with more ease if the lesson is fun and engaging. Learning and processing through play is important for children of all ages.
\n- Growth spurts. Around ten years old is when growth hormones can really take over (it can happen younger or later). These hormone changes can effect the muscles, behaviour, centre of gravity/balance, sleep patterns, energy and motor skills.
\n- The nervous system is still developing so taking time to breathe can be very important in helping a child's development. Breath awareness and proper diaphragm breathing is hugely beneficial.
\n- Sweat glands. We don't develop sweat glands until puberty so children can be prone to overheating and dehydration. Encouraging water breaks, having the room at a comfortable temperature and taking rests during energetic times can all be very important factors in a class.
\n- Exploring emotions, social skills, self-awareness and connection is a big part of class. In adults classes we may explore different themes but we are usually on our own mat for the most part doing our own thing. In children's classes there is much more emphasis on connection, interaction and creativity. In a children's yoga class everyone gets to know everyone, and everyone is seen and heard. We always teach in a circle, including the teacher to emphasise that we are all there together, and we are all important.
\nSo there is alot to the games we play😂
Let me know if you found that helpful by commenting below or send me a message!
5 Mindful Practices you need to know before you plan your next class! I wanted to share with you my five favourite mindful activities, I think your class will love them as much as my little Yogis do!
4. Colour your thoughts
Art is such a great way to express ourselves. Ask the class to sit for a moment and just bring an awareness to how they are feeling. With paper ready in front of them and pens or crayons of different colours ask them to use different colours to show how they are feeling. Allow them to express their thoughts however they feel called to do so. Letting everything come flowing out from their minds on to the page. There are no expectations for it to look like anything or be a certain way. There is no wrong way to do this.
5. Listen Like and Elephant
Elephants have such big ears which allow them to hear well (as well as using their ears to keep cool). Let’s sit comfortably and listen like an elephant. You may even like to close your eyes for this activity. What can you hear that is far away? No need to answer out loud, you don’t even need to name the sound, just observe. Next, what can you hear that is closest to you? Are their any sounds coming from you? Can you hear your breath, your heartbeat? Bring an awareness to these sounds without trying to attach too much meaning to them, just allow them to be. There is no need to rush through this exercise, take it nice and slow before opening your eyes and coming back to the room.
Need a Lesson Plan full of fun, Yoga and Mindful activities?
Check out my new lesson plan here on etsy.
What is your favourite mindful activity to practice with the children? Comment below!
What is Burn out?
We all have some degree of stress in our lives but burnout is quite different. It is when stress has hit its max, or you're feeling so overwhelmed, irritable and maybe just feel like quitting. It can creep up on you or build slowly. When you're doing a job that you are so passionate about and you love, it may be hard to admit you are feeling burned out. It doesn't make you any less of a teacher or any less passionate, it just means that you are human, and maybe you've been so busy filling everyone else's cup, that you forgot to fill yours first.
5 Ways to avoid burn out
1. Learn to Say No!
Are you taking on too much? Maybe saying yes because it sounds like a great opportunity even if it doesn't feel aligned for you. Maybe saying yes because you are flattered they asked you, even though it means cancelling that one evening you get to yourself. It is okay to say No. And guess what, You can even say no, without apologizing!
2. Self care, self care, self care!
Guaranteed you preach it, but are you listening to yourself? Just because you love what you do and maybe it doesn't always feel like 'work', but it is work and it does take its toll. You need to be looking after you. Getting enough sleep, eating, drinking, resting, the basics - right! I would argue this is not self-care but essential care. Looking at your daily routines and rituals may be handy.
3. Don't forget your own practice
Don't forget why you wanted to teach others, most likely you had your own practice before you went on to teacher trainings etc. Don't lose that. Get on the mat and practice. It really helps to attend classes, watch videos and switch off from planning mode. When you switch off from planning mode and just be present with the practice, you'll be more inspired than ever. Set a designated time after practice to write notes if you want to but try to avoid doing this during class and just let yourself have that time for you.
4. Get outside help!
You know the benefits of using yoga blocks, they provide us with help to get into poses that may be very challenging otherwise, or just add an extra 'something'. It feels good to be able to use them. Everything we practice on the mat can be taken off the mat, this includes this lesson. If the support is there, we can absolutely use it. It can help to look at what areas of your business that you would love to delegate. What is it in your business that is causing you the most amount of stress right now? Who can you find to take this off your plate? What is your biggest excuse for not doing this?
You can also outsource jobs at home. For me, I would love to get a cleaner! The way I look at it, cleaning takes me away from my business because ideally I like to tidy when the kids are not home, and this is also the time I like to work on my business and take time for me. So I am trying to fit all of those things into a small window of time so how could I solve that? Delegate! Delegating is such a practice of releasing control but I am really learning to love it!
If lesson planning is the thing that is time consuming for you or stressing you out, I have you covered! Check out these ready made lesson plans over on Etsy!
5. Get serious about your planning
Okay so adding more to your list to avoid burnout doesn't sounds like a good idea but hear me out. Get yourself a diary and plan out everything when it comes to your business. When you are running your own business it can be so easy to be 'on' all of the time. Trying to remember everything and do everything, can be so overwhelming. I like to get all that mind chatter out by writing it down. I have my work scheduled in, content planning time, blog post ideas etc all written down. Make sure your scheduling in time for you and for family and friends, just like you would an important meeting. Balance is not a 50 50 job like so many would have us believe. The truth is, balance shifts from week to week. Some weeks you are going to be more focused on your business, some weeks you're going to be more focused on seeing friends. Instead of striving for the perfect 50 50, just make sure you are doing what feels good that week. Setting intentions on the Sunday night in your diary can also be a nice way to go into a new week.
I find having it all out on paper helps me feel a lot calmer and less stressed, if I look at it and it stresses me out, I've over committed and that can be looked at too and adjusted (It could be a case of point 4 - getting outside help or just seeing what I can shift the following week).
That is my five top tips on avoiding burnout but I know there are so many more!
What advice would you give to a teacher to avoid burnout?