5 Tips for Teaching Yoga to Children & Teens
Practicing yoga on a regular basis is beneficial for any age, especially for children and teens. Yoga provides children and teens with tools that can be essential in their lives such as confidence, self-esteem, inner and outer strength, attention and concentration and most importantly awareness of themselves and others.
Living in a busy world where children and teens need to focus on schoolwork, sports or social activities and family responsibilities can make it difficult to get them interested in an activity that focuses on mindfulness and relaxation. As a yoga instructor for children and teens, it’s worthwhile for you create yoga routines that provoke interest in yoga by incorporating different movements and routines into your classes.
Here are some valuable tips to consider when teaching yoga to children and teens:
Tip #1: Create a flexible and balanced yoga lesson plan
Teaching yoga to a younger demographic will be different from teaching an adult class. They may not be as focused or quiet the entire session and may not follow the poses in the exact order or at all. Some ways to create a flexible lesson plan may involve:
Having an idea of the yoga poses that your class would enjoy;
Incorporate different yoga poses that will stretch and strengthen their bodies;
Use a variety of sitting and standing poses, forward bends, side bends, twists and balancing poses. Most importantly make sure to introduce challenging poses;
Make sure to emphasize the importance of technique and accuracy of the yoga poses you are teaching and the importance of deep and regular breathing; and
Allow the class to make any suggestions on poses they want to try or work on to improve their yoga skills
Yes, it is important for you as a yoga instructor to make sure your class is learning and benefitting from the class, but it isn’t all about following the exact lesson plan you spent time developing, it’s about giving children and teens what they need.
Tip #2: Create a calming space
As a yoga instructor, it’s important to create the right environment no matter where you’re teaching your class. It may take some time and imagination to create the right space. Here are some suggestions on how you can create a calm and soothing yoga environment:
Some students may struggle to keep their attention and feel over stimulated. Spend some time making the space feel neutral and soothing as much as possible. For example, try and tone down auditory and visual stimuli if your teaching in a classroom;
Create a plan for how you want to set up the yoga mats. Setting them up in a circle allows for you as the instructor and the students to easily interact with each other and give instant feedback;
It’s important to make your students feel as safe as possible in the created space. Once your students feel comfortable in class, they will feel a sense of community with you and others in the class space
Tip #3: Use fun & relaxing music
Incorporating fun and relaxing music into your yoga class that children and teens relate too allows them to create an individual connection between the yoga poses and the music. You can achieve this by:
Asking your class of children or teens what music they enjoy and play it during the lesson;
Allow them to practice and create new yoga routines based on the music used in class; and
Let them bring a playlist to class. This is more beneficial to teens as they can feel like they’re contributing to the class
Tip #4: Make them move & find fun new ways to do yoga!
It’s important for children and teens to experience a good warm up before starting a yoga class. This allows them to slowly build up their strength and stamina, which makes it easier on their bodies when they are learning more challenging poses.
Children and teens enjoy discovering new ways of doing things they enjoy, and this can be applied to yoga too! Here are some suggestions you can try with them:
Human mandalas, or group yoga flows;
Make a yoga movie with your class. Video tape parts of your class and share them with your students on your private yoga social media pages;
Spend a few classes allowing your students to create their own yoga poses or new ways to do yoga together as a class;
Try to do the Wave or a Sundance during class. For the Wave, have one student start with a pose and have the others follow. For a Sundance, no words are needed, just play some popular music and have your students to step into the center of the circle and lead a sequence of poses followed by others; and
Weather permitting, try a yoga class outside. Alternatively, try a class in a local unique building like a greenhouse or atrium with lots of vegetation or unique lighting
Tip #5: Show your class yoga moves they can show off to their friends
Children and teens enjoy a challenge and love sharing their accomplishments and interests with others. When planning what your going to teach your yoga class, be sure to introduce children and teens to interesting and challenging poses. Introduce them to different yoga experiences that go beyond their world by bringing different elements into the class such as:
Yoga can be a fun and motivating way for children and teens to express themselves. It can also teach them patience and provide them with a sense of accomplishment when they can master each pose you are teaching them. By incorporating these 5 tips into your yoga classes, there is no doubt your students will enjoy the break from all of their responsibilities. They will be excited to attend each class and how it provides them with the opportunity for peace and the ability for creativity, happiness, teamwork, friendship and most of all the chance to express themselves!