The Only Kids Yoga Lesson Plan You’ll Ever Need

Have you experienced the feeling of developing a creative, juicy lesson plan full of inspiration only to walk into the classroom and find it just doesn’t align with the needs of your students? Being able to recognize incongruence and spontaneously create a new agenda in the moment is a hallmark of a mindfully aware, attuned, present teacher.

I’ve experienced this situation many times in my teaching career, several of them stand out. Teaching 3-4 year olds on 9/11 and leading a middle school class the day after a classmate was lost to suicide required a heightened level of sensitivity that I could only find by first diving into my heart and connecting deeply to my purpose as a yoga teacher.

Time after time, I’ve found the simple plan to work best. A plan free of special effects, novelty and extraneous thematic content allows us as teachers to be fully present with our students. As we put our plans aside, we are more available to intuit and meet the needs of our students, especially at times when their needs are heightened. In other words, does a brilliant lesson plan on the solar system serve our students when their hearts and minds are completely absorbed in a the death of a classroom frog?

This is not to say that lesson plans don’t serve a meaningful function or that novelty is always a distraction, to the contrary, both can be powerful teaching tools when used intelligently. My point here is to draw a distinction between a time for plans and a time for spontaneous presence of mind.

This foundational “plan” below is my love letter to kids yoga teachers and students. It has become the backdrop upon which all of my lesson plans overlay. With this as my ground, I can go into any teaching situation with confidence.

The Only Kids Yoga Lesson Plan You’ll Ever Need

  • The Moment Before: In preparation for teaching class, spend atleast a few minutes grounding yourself and tapping in to your intention as a teacher. This can be done in sitting meditation, by taking a slow, meditative walk or however works for you. For me, this step is akin to having keys to drive the car. I can’t really go anywhere until I’ve taken this vital step.
  • Opening Circle: Gather into a close circle and pose a meaningful question. Pass a bell or chime around, talking stick style,  and allow each student a minute or two to answer. While they are answering, see each student. See their hearts. See through their behavior to the beauty that they are. See and listen with your heart. Fully present, with no thoughts of what comes next or what must be accomplished.  Just be there with them, each of them.  Listen to their wisdom, and when it’s your turn, share your wisdom. Now, let the rest of the class ride on this connection.
  • A Moment of Stillness: For a few minutes, allow the connection to deepen and resonate in the space. Be still and quiet in a way that works for your students. Child’s pose, laying down on the belly, or sitting in an easy cross legged pose are all good options. No need to have brilliant guided imagery meditation planned out, just guide them to their breath. Be open, though, because often an image will emerge in the moment. If so, go with that. It is the result of the relationship of  the learning community and it may hold real meaning in the moment. Otherwise, simple mindful awareness practice serves just as beautifully.
  • Playful Movement and Breathing: Listening to the needs of your students, you will know what comes next. Do they need to shake out their bodies? Do they need to move freely like jellyfish in the ocean? Do they need to play a game that promotes community? Warm up their bodies and get the breath moving with 10 minutes of playful, free movement. You can even simply put on sacred music and take turns leading moves.
  • Focused Movement and Breathing: As a class, choose 8-10 yoga poses to practice. Ask them which poses they feel will help them get focused on that particular day. If it’s a new class that doesn’t know many poses yet, use a yoga card deck to help them decide. Sequence for safety and go for it. Students thrive in being part of the planning process. Focus on breathing and moving in sync.
  • Wind Down with a Story: Tell the story of that day. “Today, we met in a circle and shared our thoughts about (fill in the blank). Then, we sat in stillness and quiet together. After that, we danced, played and enjoyed being free together. Next, we focused our minds on (name the poses). Now, it is time for our final relaxation. Let’s support each other by really committing to being focused, quiet and still now.”
  • Final Relaxation: Rest well with a full body guided relaxation. Play soothing music or give your students the gift of trust by allowing them a few minutes to relax in silence.. Step back and let your students relationship with themselves deepen. Let their own yoga experience do the talking now. Connect into your heart and shine emerald light to each and every heart in the room. See all of these hearts connected in a matrix of emerald light and pulse your dreams and wishes for your students along these lines of light. Teach with your silence, doing the inner work of supporting.

When we trust ourselves and our students enough to put plans aside and  allow the class to emerge from students present needs, we step into a deeper level of relatedness as a learning community.

 

COMMENTS (19)

Just beautiful Abby!! Thanks for reminding us to be aware of our kiddos and what they need in the “moment” we are with them…

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    Jodi This is absolutely a wroednful share and reminding us to meet the yogi where they are at . Plus, chocolate chip cookies and yoga it doesn’t get better than that. Thank you again for sharing this and I hope you don’t mind, but I shared it on my facebook.Casey

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I’m a new kids yoga teacher and I chance upon your site because I am struggling with finding new yoga ideas for my class. Your words speak right through my heart and this is really great to teach the kids what yoga can really bring to them; just like how it brought grounding and peace for me. Thank you for this article!

    And your comment speaks directly to my heart! This is what yoga is all about; sharing, connecting, supporting and growing together. Thank you for making my day.

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I loved reading this post! I’m a new kids yoga teacher and struggle with keeping the kids attention. (Ages 3-5). I have a loose theme but am stuck on how best to structure it. This makes so much sense to me. I’ll have to give it a try but do you think it works for young ones, 3-5? Thank you for your thoughtful post!

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    Glad you found the post helpful, Cindy. You are not alone when it comes to the struggle to keep kids attention. I’d love to help you address this, actually. Would you be interested in sharing an example of what happens in your yoga classes with 3-5 year olds that we could use as a launch pad for exchanging ideas?

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    And, YES! I’ve used this structure in over a thousand classes with 3-5 year olds!

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This is wonderful and I will apply it to the best of my ability when I teach. I just started teaching 3-5 year olds as well, and I’m having a tough time. I teach about 8 of them at a time, and sometimes I have an adult helper, who ends up just screaming at the kids when they act out, and dragging them out to sit in the corner, where they just end up cry/screaming the whole time. Kinda hard to be calm and peaceful with that in the background. But without the helper, I can barely get through one activity. Despite each of them having their own yoga mat, the kids have problems with personal space, and end up hitting and kicking each other (intentionally and not) and then hog-piling on top of one another or wrestling. If I bring my attention to the kid who is starting everything, then another kids starts it too. It’s just a mess. I’ll follow this outline for sure, but do you have any other ideas?

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    Yes, Angela, I do have many other ideas and strategies to share, but too lengthy for this comment field. Let’s talk. Email me abby@shantigeneration.com and we can hop on a call to get you some support around this challenge.

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    I teach 3-5yr olds about 8-10 of them in a small Montessori classroom at their preschool. I would love to hear some of your suggestion. thank you- Rkahi rkreymerman@gmail.com

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I often google lesson plans or ideas for my kids yoga classes and this is my favourite post. Thank you for the reminder, the classes that I haven’t “planned” are often the best ones.

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Thank you! This is really helpful, appreciate you sharing very much. X

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Can you do a post on tips for the above as I too teach a class of 5 years olds and can have acting out or refusing to join in.

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I will be subbing soon for childrens yoga. I am hopeful to be put on the schedule for my own class soon. Any advice would be appreciated.

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For Jennifer: Hello, When I practice with 5 years old, I tend to bring a lot of silliness and laughter to our sessions. Making silly faces or incorporating coloring and other activities that they can do if they don’t want to do yoga. I have coloring pages, pipe cleaners and beads. They can make breathing bracelets and bring them to their mat to use. Also using counting of the fingers or toes for breathing. I also only want myself in the room with the kids, having a parent or another authority figure tends to sway the attention, they tend to act out more.
I wish you the best.

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