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Want to start teaching yoga to kids? How do you get started?
Teaching yoga to kids has not always been a lifelong dream of mine.
It was something that I kind of fell into on accident.
I always knew I loved working with kids, but I also knew that I didn’t want to be a teacher in a traditional sense.
Partly because so many people in my family are teachers and I kind of wanted to break away from the mold.
Also, I didn’t get a teaching license in college, I just studied children’s education with a fine arts focus and how non-traditional education is good for learning.
I just knew that I wanted to impart knowledge and experience to people, or kids, in some way down the road.
That path in college, combined with my own love of yoga, led me to pursue my 200-hour teacher training with RYT through a yoga studio near me call Green Lotus Yoga and Healing Center.
As I started teaching yoga to adults I was also teaching full-time at a pre-kindergarten and preschool where I was hired to teach Spanish (my other college major).
About a year after I got my yoga teaching license, and while I was still teaching pre-k and also doing some traveling, I saw an ad for a kid’s yoga teacher training. It was one weekend, only about 20 hours, but I thought it would be fun to try with my kids at the preschool.
I took the kid’s yoga course and was immediately hooked.
It felt so much more fun and exciting than what I’d considered yoga for kids would be like.
I knew at once that I wanted to start teaching yoga to kids at the preschool I worked at, and potentially to even more places.
I taught yoga at the preschool mostly for fun for about a year. In the meantime, I took another kid’s yoga course and tried some new ways of teaching yoga using games and mindfulness.
Finally, I volunteered to teach yoga in Kenya where I had a friend running an NGO. She set me up with some local schools and programs and I taught 1-2 classes a day for three weeks.
That was an excellent chance to immerse myself in the routine of teaching kids of different levels, ages and abilities. It also forced me out of my comfort zone and into the world of being the sole teacher bringing a new topic to kids. It was amazing!
In Kenya, I taught to young students in a daycare, teens at an all-girls school, a group of children with physical disabilities, and even to a group of kids at the deaf school. It was a wonderful and fulfilling experience.
Obviously, not everyone who wants to teach yoga has the time or resources to go volunteer abroad.
Everyone’s path to teaching yoga to kids will be different (and should be!).
However, I have taken my story and told it many times, and I’ve come up with a good set of concrete steps that everyone who teaches yoga to kids should try to take. This is purely my own recommendations, but I personally think it’s a great place to start.
And since teaching yoga to children has been my full-time salaried job for five years now, I think it worked pretty well.
Here are the steps you should take in order to start teaching yoga to kids:
Practice yoga at various studios
This may seem obvious, but it’s not always what people do first. In my opinion, you need to have a basic knowledge of the yoga poses, postures, the flow of a yoga class, and feeling that you can achieve when taking a class from a great teacher.
Go to several different classes, different styles, and various studios. Experience all that yoga in America has to offer! (Trust me, it’s a lot, and it’s not the same as what you find in India.)
Find an amazing instructor
Find a teacher who understands you, who helps you grow, and facilitates a sense of calm and wellbeing.
If you want to be able to impart this on others (especially kids!) it’s imperative that you understand what it feels like as the student.
I found my favorite yoga teacher when I was 18. I still take classes from her up to this day (14 years later!). She motivates me, helps me focus, grounds my practice and inspires me. If you want to be a teacher who does this to others, try to find someone who can demonstrate it to you in real life.
Take a standard yoga teacher training course
You don’t necessarily have to do this to start teaching yoga to kids, but it’s highly recommended and definitely required in some situations.
There are many options for yoga teacher training courses. I recommend that you do it in person. I took mine in a three-month intensive (one full week a month for the summer). There are also weekend options, night options, and even some online. I did a 220-hour training, which is pretty standard.
Yoga Alliance is a great online resource to find credible yoga teacher training and schools near you.
Read a book on how to start teaching yoga to kids
I read a couple books that I found on Amazon in my first year of teaching full time. These definitely helped me get new ideas, find new games, and get inspiration to keep working hard!
These are my favorites:
- Yoga Calm for Children. This has been the most useful and practical book that I’ve found, given my population of students that I teach. It has concrete ideas for activities and sequences. It has tips for themes and structuring classes. I’ve completed the Yoga Calm training as well, which was incredibly beneficial.
- Om Schooled. (Currently only available on Kindle from Amazon, sorry). This book gave me inspiration in the dead of winter in my first year. I thought I couldn’t do it. It was too hard. I was burning out. This story of a woman teaching full-time yoga in a public school (just like me!) was the book that helped me keep going. Inspiring and heartwarming, not as full of lesson plans as I’d hoped but definitely practical.
- Yoga Games for Children. A good set of games for using with kids with a yoga focus! I find I need to modify a lot of them for my large classes, but its great to flip through and re-inspire myself from time to time.
- Storytime Yoga. This book is best for use in studios as it takes a more traditional look at yoga. Stories are scripted out and always have a moral, though best for mid-elementary age. Many are from different countries around the world! Good ideas and sample stories.
Follow inspirational Kid’s yoga teachers on Pinterest
I get SO many ideas for my classroom on Pinterest.
I love seeing the visuals, watching and hearing what others do, and keeping track of my favorite ideas.
Here’s who you should follow:
- Kumarah Kid’s Yoga (of course you already should be following my Pinterest, but if not, it’s here!)
- Kids Yoga Stories
- Kidding Around Yoga
- Learning Lotuses
- Rainbow Kids Yoga
Volunteer as a Kid’s Yoga Teacher
I did this at my preschool for several months (just once every two weeks for a whole day).
I also spent several weeks abroad teaching kids and adults. This is rare to find the “perfect” opportunity, but I highly encourage you to find a studio, a school, a camp, an afterschool program, or even a family next door that needs an activity break for their kids.
I even taught kids at a company Christmas party for several years, too, just volunteering an hour of my time to play and practice yoga with the variety of kids of the employees.
If you let others know of a skill that you have and are willing to share it for free, you will get opportunities! And the practice is CRUCIAL in building confidence and teaching skills!
Look for local paid opportunities
Once you’ve volunteered and know the basics, you can start looking for paid work!
Look for options at local yoga or fitness studios, talk to principals in local school districts, social workers at day treatment centers, special needs schools, detention centers, and even at your 9-5 workplace.
- Are there families that have kids who they would bring in for an hour after work on Fridays? $20 a kid for a month!
- Check with community centers, churches, camps
- Ask at your kid’s daycare if they’d like a monthly program
- Put up flyers at your neighborhood coffee shop to host yoga parties at homes
- Host a yoga party for a friend’s kid and pass out cards.
- Find a charter school (like mine!) that will hire a specialist teacher for yoga classes year round (or part-time!)
Get the word out that you are a kid’s yoga teacher and the opportunities will come knocking!
Talk to the adults “in-the-know”
Once you’ve found a place to start teaching yoga to kids, get to know the place. Talk to the adults in charge.
Ask these questions!
- Get to know the hours of the space and your timing
- Learn when you should arrive and how early you can get there
- Check out your space: is it open? are there desks?
- Do you need to bring mats?
- Is the space just for you or will you share it?
- How many kids will you have at once?
- Are there other adults that will be there too?
- How are the students?
- What are their strengths?
- Do they like to talk? Are they shy?
- What games do they know?
- How many other teachers do they interact with?
- What will they be wearing? (If it’s a school do they have uniforms? Do the girls wear skirts?)
These are important questions! Find out as much as you can!
Don’t miss out on all my Free Resources for how to teach kids yoga and mindfulness. Get access to the Library here!
Start teaching yoga!!
I’ve written many posts on how to teach yoga to kids:
How you START depends mostly on the answers to the above questions that you ask the adults where you will be teaching.
Go into your teaching with as much knowledge as you can, and plan your lessons from there.
Be honest and real with the kids. Let them get to know you so they trust you. Share and ask questions.
Start with low-risk movement, fun games, and an easy to follow sequence.
Use this easy to follow Kids Yoga Flow with brand new pose images, descriptions, and tons of helpful tips on how to start teaching and encouraging kids to do yoga!
Use a story to break the ice!