Everything you need to plan your Valentine's Yoga Class with Children!Read Now
Happy Valentine's day!
Did you know that the first valentine's day was in year 496?
While some people believe Valentine's day to be a very commercial day, it is rich with history and traditions. While the celebration has changed through the years, I think that the underlying theme of love has always been strong. When I think about love and Yoga, I think about Anahata - the fourth chakra.
The fourth chakra acts as a bridge, connecting our outer relationships with our inner worlds, joining the physical and the spiritual.
Seven themes to play with when planning your class
Choose one of these themes to focus your class around.
Seven poses to include
The breath and the heart
Our breath is one of the key components to opening the heart chakra. Bring an awareness to the breath through out the class and give one of the below practices a try with your group.
Heart meditation - Placing your hands together at the heart, closing the eyes or softening the gaze and taking a few moments just to breathe into your heart space.
Ho'oponopono Meditation - I found one on Youtube here.
Meditate on the colour green - Use colourful props or a visual journey including green spring leaves
Metta Meditation - This loving kindness meditation is a wonderful one to end with. I remember practicing this around Christmas time with one of the schools I was visiting and one of the children thought I was saying "May you live with ears" Instead of "May you live with ease". You can find many scripts online for loving kindness meditations, I will definitely share more about this at a later time.
No children's Yoga class is complete without a game or two! I like to play these games nearer the start of class or after our pose practice.
Love Tower - Write poses and actions on Jenga blocks. Play the game as normal but practicing the poses on the blocks as they get pulled out.
The Hugging Game (great for Family Yoga classes) - Hugs have so many benefits! They can strengthen our immune system, balance the nervous system and are a great way to show your love and support. It is however especially important to ensure that the child wants to be hugged. Hugging is only beneficial if it feels safe and comfortable for both parties and consent should be practiced even if your child loves hugs with you usually.
Choose someone to be the hugger. They then go to the other side of the room. They then run, skip, dance or move like and animal towards someone and gives them a big hug. They may like to stay here for about 10 seconds to allow that oxytocin to start pouring through. The person who got hugged then becomes the new hugger. This can be played with adults and their children or with children in the group. It could even be like a game of tag but with hugs!
My heart will go on -
I got to play this game with a fantastic teacher during one of my trainings. I am not sure what the name of the game was originally, but I have called it ‘my heart will go on’ because we played this to a certain popular song. This game is played in pairs. Choose a song (one that isn’t too long) and decide who will be the dancer and who will be the creator. The dancer must close their eyes while the creator moves the dancers’ body to the music. It may help to be the creator the first time you play this together and then swap. The creator moves one thing at a time such as a leg tapping up and down. The dancer must keep this momentum going. If the creator was to move the dancers' arms up and down, the dancer must keep that movement going – up and down, up and down, until the creator taps to stop or moves them into a different movement. The foot may be tapping as the creator then guides the dancers’ arm to go out and in. So multiple movements can take place but try to keep it quite simple. It can feel very free to get lost in the music and let your body be guided.
When the song is over the same song is going to be replayed. The creator will step back, and the dancer will try to recreate the dance.
Say to your group “Do you remember the dance you just did? Try to practice it without your partner moving you”
It can be so beautiful to watch this as the creator, seeing your dance really take on new life. Of course, it is going to look quite different, but it is fun to see how they remembered it in their own bodies.
The dancer and creator can then choose a new song and switch!
What else could you do in your Valentines Classes?
There is so much more you could do, you could add in some arty activities, scavenger hunts, affirmations - so many possibilities!
Looking for more Inspiration or for a gift you can give your students after class?
Check out my ultimate Valentines Day for Kids Pack on Etsy! It is at it's lowest price ever right now!
I hope these ideas will serve you well not just on Valentines Day but through out the Year - because Love is always a good theme.
Have a great day!
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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
Are you always forgetting names or are you amazing at remembering them?
Remembering names for multiple classes can be challenging. It sucks because you really care about these children and want to create strong class bonds, you don't mean to forget their name! The good news is this is about to change! With these fun games you'll be able to remember names so much better but also help the class remember each other's names - one of the first steps in a lasting friendship.
Friendship is always a big part of my children's Yoga classes and if that is important to you too, check out these fun games. I have few tips at the end of this blog post so don't miss them!
Name Name Name
This is probably my classes favourite, but I only really do this one for ages 7+.
Everyone stands in a circle except for one person who stands in the middle (this could be you to start). The person in the middle has to say another person's name three times. The people in the circle must stay alert and focused because if their name is called, they must quickly interrupt by saying the person in the middles name only once. If the person in the middle is successful, they can switch places, if they were interrupted before they could finish then they remain in the middle and try again. This game involves quick thinking and also helps to build that memory of the names of those in your group through the repetition.
Name and share
This is a simple go to game where we pass a ball or prop around and share our name and then one thing that relates to the theme of today's class - favourite animal, something they are grateful for, favourite pose, one thing they hope to learn this term etc. This is a good one to practice as a re-cap, or when you have one new person joining and want to introduce everyone again, but it can also work at the beginning of a new term. It is a really good one for the younger classes too. You can make this more fun by passing the ball with your feet or having to blow a pom pom to the next person, not being able to choose the person next to you or including movement such as poses etc.
Have you met my friend?
This is a great partner activity. Everyone goes into pairs, and they are going to share 3 things each with each other plus their name. After learning these 3 things we meet back in our circle and then we go round the circle introducing our partner. This is fun on its own but if you want to add a little to it with the older students then ask them to exaggerate everything! So, if their partner says they have a dog, they will tell the group "They love dogs so much that they have 5 of them!". If they tell their partner, they like chocolate then they could tell the group "They love chocolate so much, they can't go a day without it!". The more dramatic and exaggerated the funnier. This version works best with teen classes.
In your circle, one by one everyone introduces themselves and shows one yoga pose or movement. For example - Hello my name is Natasha *stands in tree pose*. Everyone says Hello Natasha and then they stand in tree pose. You can say hello again on the other side to balance out any poses that may need both sides practiced.
This carries on with everyone getting a turn. It may be helpful to put out some Yoga cards for inspiration.
This game is much like the previous game. We stand in our circle and introduce ourselves with a pose. The difference is that instead of just saying hello back to that one person we create a chain. For example
Hello my name is Natasha *tree pose*
Hello Natasha *All Stand in tree pose*
Hello my name is Sam *Warrior pose*
Hello Sam *All stand in Warrior pose*, Hello Natasha *all stand in tree pose*
Hello my name is Hattie *Happy baby pose*
Hello Hattie *all come down into happy baby pose*, Hello Sam *warrior pose*, Hello Natasha *tree pose*
This carries on for everyone in the group so it's a real test of memory, not just remembering names but the poses they selected too. Luckily you all have each other to help each other to remember. This only works if the group is not too big, or it could take a very long time! If you do want to play it in a large group I would suggest, starting again after 8 to 10 people.
To balance out the poses that can be practiced on two sides, you could go through it all again on the other side or pause and do both each time.
This one is much like Name and Share where everyone takes turns to introduce themselves and something about the chosen topic, but they do it while laughing. The laugh can be completely fake but by the end it usually ends up very real. This one is good for any age group; the older ones can meet it with some resistance at first which makes it all the funnier when the laughing becomes real.
Which game was your favourite?
Will you be adding any of these games into your classes? Comment below!
And if you have any other games or tips you would like to share, I'd love to hear them!
Here are a few other tips to end with that may help with remembering students' names:
1. Repeat the name back to them on meeting them. Making sure that you are pronouncing it correctly.
2. Have a sign in sheet for each class with your students' names so that you can glance at it before class starts each time.
3. Don't just play the name games at the start of term but throughout.
4. Join in the games yourself, it's important not to just observe but to get in there and play too!
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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!
Why Children are not mini-adults, and what to keep in mind when teaching them.Read Now
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!
Five Mindful Practices you are going to want to know before planning your next class!Read Now
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?
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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?