Teaching yoga to kids has many benefits. But how do you keep them engaged and motivated during a yoga class? Children often struggle to concentrate for long periods, and getting an entire class to focus on you and the yoga poses can be difficult.
Let's look at how using fairy tales to teach yoga poses allows kids to have fun while receiving all the benefits of the yoga practice. In the end, I also share ten fun yoga poses for kids with you.
The Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Yoga and mindfulness can benefit children’s emotional, mental and physical wellbeing in many ways. Some of these benefits include:
- Increasing physical activity and flexibility
- Improving emotional regulation and overall mood
- Managing stress and anxiety
- Boosting self-esteem
- Increasing body awareness and mindfulness
Learning yoga from a young age gives children the tools to create a healthy and confident life. It empowers them to be mindful and take care of their bodies.
See our guide on the Benefits of Teaching Yoga to Kids & Teenagers to learn more.
However, we all know that no matter how excellent the benefits are, if it's not fun, children won't be interested. That's where you have to get creative!
Using Fairy Tales to Teach Kids Yoga Poses
For children, playing means socializing and movement. It allows them to let go of excess energies and step out of the day-to-day routines that may stress them out. Kids also learn better when playing—they are more likely to listen and remember. And what’s more fun than teaching kids yoga poses with a fairy tale or story intertwined?
How Do Fairy Tales Keep Kids Engaged?
Using fairy tales or storytelling is a great way to teach kids yoga poses because it:
- Allows them to have fun.
- Develops and improves cognitive abilities and literacy.
- Teaches kids how to regulate emotions towards themselves and those around them.
- Allows kids to become aware of their body and breath through body representation of fairy tales.
- Teaches children essential values such as patience, kindness and hard work. The characters in the stories can represent these values.
- Brings them into a calm and relaxing mindset where concentration is increased and, therefore, more receptive and open to listening.
Even when playing, it’s important to keep kids engaged to benefit from the yoga session and avoid distracting those around them.
Tips for Boosting Engagement in a Kids Yoga Class
Keeping children engaged during your yoga class can be difficult without a well-thought-out plan. Here are a few ways you can get your younger students interested and excited about yoga:
- Use short and straightforward explanations.
- Use your body more than your words. Show them what to do and how to have fun.
- Keep things interesting by including variety in your games and fairy tales.
- Include brief relaxation and guided visualization to explore their senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste).
- Challenge children according to their age and development to keep them motivated.
I advise using specific yoga teaching techniques according to children's age groups, as each child is on a different developmental journey and may respond differently. For example, you can incorporate longer relaxations with guided visualizations from age seven. From age eight, you can play less and do more yoga, giving them the freedom to create their yoga sequences.
Now that we've looked at how you can keep children engaged in the yoga class, let's jump into how you can use fairy tales in your class and different yoga poses for kids.
The Best Fairy Tales for Kids Yoga Poses
Now is where the fun begins!
First, find a story or fairy tale into which you can incorporate yoga poses. You can even create your own story. This can be a story that includes subjects related to simple yoga poses like a stone, snake, cat, frog or butterfly. By doing this, you can encourage your students to practice all the different asanas represented in the story, such as:
- Stone Pose
- Cobra Pose
- Cat Pose
- Frog Pose
- Butterfly Pose
As you read the story, you prompt the kids to do the yoga pose whenever you mention the character or object. For example, when the story notes how the cat stretches its back, they come into Cat Pose. Remember to follow along and show them with body movements how it's done.
Let’s look at a short fairy tale you can use for children aged 5-7.
The Vain Cat
In this fairy tale, the asanas help to move the spine, relieve tension and promote flexibility. The children are invited to reflect on knowing and accepting their limits during this session.
(See the numbering system below to know where they should incorporate the yoga pose.)
Once upon a time, there was a vain cat who believed he was just as strong as a tiger (1).
One day he got it into his head that he wanted to walk on two legs, as humans do, so he undertook to lift one paw all day (2) and then the other ...
And finally, by means of trying, he succeeded! (3)
He fell immediately but satisfied, he went to sleep, dreaming of being able to swim like a little fish (4)
Asanas (numbering system)
1. Cat Pose
2. Cat Pose with one hand up
3. Mountain Pose
4. Fish Pose
As your students get older, you can challenge them by using longer stories and incorporating more movement and asanas into the yoga practice.
Fun & Easy Yoga Poses for Kids
Below are different yoga poses and examples of characters or objects you can use for the corresponding asanas. These are only a few examples. You can think of more of your favourite asanas and how you can fit them into a fun and educational story.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Character/ object: Dog
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Character/ object: Clouds
Tortoise Pose (Kurmasana)
Character/ object: Turtle/tortoise
Child's Pose (Shashankasana / Balasana)
Character/ object: Stone Pose
Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Character/ object: Butterfly
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Character/ object: Bridge
Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
Character/ object: Rainbow
Play around and get creative with your own story or use an existing fairy-tale.
Need more inspiration for yoga poses? Read Yoga Exercises – Yoga Asana Guide.
Even though these poses and fairy tales will be the basis of your yoga class, other parts, such as breath work and relaxation, are still important. You'll need a well-structured yoga class to ensure optimal flow and engagement.
How to Structure Your Yoga Class
A structure for your yoga class is crucial to provide direction and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Here is what a typical kids' yoga class looks like:
1. Opening/closing ritual
A ritual is activities that are repeated in a set, precise manner. In each class, the opening and ending should be more or less the same. This repetition of the ritual allows the children to become mindful and calm.
Now we do exactly as the word says; we warm up the body and mind. This part includes a simple series of movements to activate the muscles and brain. The warm-up allows the kids to start moving and inspires positive and creative thinking.
3. Games and fairy tales
As I’ve mentioned before, fairy tales are excellent for teaching kids yoga poses as it helps keep them engaged and motivated.
4. Breathing exercises
Deep breathing has the same effect on kids as it does on adults. It calms them down and reduces stress. However, teaching kids how to take deep belly breaths is often more complex. Therefore, it's important to show them what to do. Do not merely tell them but remember to use your body more than your words.
Try these 3 Yogic Breathing Exercises to Calm Down.
5. Final relaxation
A relaxed child is a happy child! End your yoga class with relaxation techniques to bring them into the present moment.
If you’ve found this brief guide on how to teach yoga poses for kids exciting and would love to know more, you’re in luck! We have a 50-hour Teen & Kids Yoga Teacher Training course that will empower you to create comprehensive, engaging and fun Kids Yoga classes. After the course, you’ll be a Certified Kids’ Yoga Teacher. Find out more here.