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Kids need to have fun but they also benefit from yoga. Do yoga games work?
Kiddos need to be creative, active, and mentally stimulated.
They love visuals, they enjoy being leaders (occasionally), and they like to try new things (sometimes!).
How do I combine all of these together as their movement and yoga teacher?
As a Yoga and Mindfulness teacher in a public school, I re-learned this a lot over the past four years.
I taught yoga from the get-go, but I definitely didn’t do it perfectly.
I still don’t, but I have come a long way and tried a lot of different things.
Yoga games have been by far one of the most successful things I’ve done to teach kids yoga.
I’ve come up with some excellent printable yoga games with special Kumarah Yoga images.
Coming up with great games has been tricky, but I have also learned that I need one specific thing to help make these games possible…
The most invaluable tool for playing yoga games with kids is a good set of Yoga Pose Cards.
Check out my post here where I rank the Top Five Yoga Pose Cards Sets for Kids (available on Amazon)
I also created my own set of Kids Yoga Cards for the Perfect Yoga Flow. (available instantly!)
My kids NEED to see what we are doing when they try new poses.
Yoga pose cards also help them be able to try poses and postures on their own without having to hear my voice tell them exactly what to do.
They do get tired of teachers talking at them all day, obviously. So having a good set of yoga cards is essential.
Once you have the cards with your kids, let them explore a bit. Teach them how to treat the cards, and what to do, and what parts to read (if applicable).
Make sure you also start teaching them how long to hold each pose. That was a lesson I’ve had to backtrack on a few times. Many kids want to rush through and don’t end up holding the poses longer than 2 seconds sometimes.
I’ve learned that teaching them how to count in “Mississippi’s” is helpful– 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi… all the way to ten!
Also, it doesn’t hurt to teach them when and how to do a pose on both sides of their body.
There’s a great lesson on balance with that whole idea there.
Plus you can add in lessons about right and left!
But, once the kiddos know how to use the cards and have played a bit, you can start teaching them these awesome Yoga Games using your favorite set of yoga pose cards.
Here are the Best Kids Yoga Games using pose cards!
“Eagle, Eagle what do you see?”
This one I came up with in an act of frenzied teaching desperation and it was such a hit we played it three days in a row!
- Pass a card out to each child, using only animal cards. Make sure you give eagle pose to someone.
- Have each child do their pose, then say the phrase “Eagle Eagle, what do you see?”
- The child who is the eagle has to fly around the room, in between all the other animals, and land next to another animal, saying “I see a __________ (that child’s animal) looking at me.”
- Then they trade cards and there is a new eagle.
- Chant and fly again.
Best if played after reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?”
Make sure you have one less mat (or sit spot) than children. I find this works best in a circle, but you could also rearrange the mats like a maze or a yellow brick road throughout the room if you have lots of space (or all yellow mats) :D.
- Place a card on a corner of each mat.
- Children move from mat to mat, dancing or another movement adjective.
- When the music stops, they get on the nearest mat and do the pose in the corner.
- The child who does the pose last on a mat they share with someone or doesn’t have a mat is out and sits down for one round. (Don’t move any mats after the start of the game.)
A variation would be if two children land on the same mat they have to find a way to combine their poses. With this option, you could start removing mats one at a time to make it trickier and have more combination poses.
“Freeze Dance Yogi Style”
- Children dance around the room to music.
- An option is to give them a WAY to move to keep things more interesting or for kids who are shy about dancing. Tell them to move like a bunny or a dog or to skip or leap.
- When the music stops, hold up a card and see who can hold the pose the longest without moving, falling or talking.
- Give a “shout out” or compliment to kids that are freezing in the most creative or difficult way.
Yoga Dice (+Memory) Game
- Roll a couple of dice and see what number you get.
- Do the corresponding pose, either on my worksheets which you can grab below for free, or write some numbers on a board and tape up pose cards.
- Each time you roll another number, do the first rolled pose FIRST, then the next, and so on.
- Keep adding on until you have a sequence of ten poses! See who can do them from memory the best.
So You Think You Can [Yoga] Dance?
Sort through the cards and choose some your favorite poses (8-10 to start). Put them in an order that you think makes sense. We talk about the arc of a story, or the arc of a math bell curve and how we could make our routine “look” similar. Sitting poses first, then standing poses, then sitting or lying poses at the end.
Start at the beginning and make it a routine, counting to 4 (or 8) for each pose in a rhythmic way, like a dance. Do it with a partner and take a video. Set it to music for the ultimate So You Think You Can [Yoga] Dance! Here’s a cute example from YouTube (not mine, but I like it!)
What’s My Pose?
Tape a yoga pose card to each student’s back. Everyone walks around and finds a partner. They each to get ask their partner ONE yes or no question about their pose. Then, instead of guessing the name of the pose out loud, they have to DO the pose they think they have. Keep going until everyone has guessed their pose!
Partner Pose Creation Challenge
Each student has a yoga pose card in their hand. Tell them to find a partner and pick a mat to stand on.
They have 1 minute to come up with the most creative way to put their two poses together.
- Some part of your bodies has to be connected or linked.
- Nobody can be holding anybody’s body completely off the ground.
- Both poses have to be used as correctly as possible.
Yoga Statues Race (Red Light, Green Light)
One student, the Yogi Master, is at one end of the room holding a deck of cards. They start facing away from the others. Every time they turn around, they hold up a different yoga pose card that the group of students must do right away and freeze.
The other students’ job is to race towards the Yogi Master and get to that person first. When the Yogi Master is not looking (green light) the others can walk or run towards them. When the Yogi Master turns around (red light), the others must freeze in the pose that is being held up.
If they don’t freeze right away, or they move or fall out, they go back to the beginning. The Yogi Master (or you as the teacher) can simultaneously say “Red Light” “Green Light” to make it more clear when they can and cannot move if that gets tricky. I usually end up saying the Red and Green light instructions as the Yogi Master is fumbling with the cards, haha.
I hope these games are enjoyable and fun for you and your kids!
Check out these other posts with activities and classroom management for teaching kids yoga games.
- 5 Active Kids Yoga Games to Have Fun in a Group
- 10 Quick Brain Breaks That Will Get Your Kids to Focus
- How to Teach Yoga to Active and Energetic Kids
- Yogi Says: An easy and Active Yoga Game for Kids
- Awesome Yoga Games for an Amazing Kid’s Summer Camp
Don’t forget to check out the Kids Yoga Games Bundle with 5 MORE yoga games to play with your kids.
All are available in at least 2 or 3 different versions, and it includes 24 poses and descriptions right within the PDF!
(This post has been updated Jan, 2020)