Can active, energetic kids learn yoga and mindfulness?
The short answer, yes. You can do lots of things to help energetic kids learn strategies to be mindful and practice yoga. Here’s a few ideas for teaching more energetic kids yoga classes
- Make sure you have a positive relationship with them
- Learn classroom management skills and lead like a teacher
- Have a consistent class outline
- Teach a Yoga Flow sequence
- Play some yoga games
- Try some partner poses to build relationship skills and cooperation
- Let them create their own sequences or routines to show off their skills
Let’s get into it!
How do you teach kids to be calm and mindful when all they want to do is shout and talk and run around playing soccer with anything that might roll?
Teaching yoga to kids in elementary school be loud and crazy– kids are full of energy!
I never envisioned myself as a teacher, let alone one in a classroom of unruly, wild, and overactive children.
Now here I am trying to teach them how to be calm by using yoga.
The kindergarteners are tough… but for me, the hardest grades to teach yoga to are third, fourth and fifth.
They are active, bigger, more used to challenging authority and also tend to be more interested in social interactions than learning to do “slow boring yoga poses”.
Additionally, how do you teach yoga to active kids when they don’t really want to learn it?
After four years of struggling with this very issue, I have finally found some miraculous fixes to the wild and active yoga classes.
Yoga For Active Kids or Kids Who Don’t Want to Learn Yoga
1. Build Strong Relationships
The best way to start is by making sure you have a good relationship with the kids. Let them know you care about them, get to know them, ask them about their lives and share about yours.
Tell them why yoga is important to YOU. What brought you here? What motivates you?
Share a few photos of yourself, bring things from home to share, and let them ask questions!
Kids need to trust you to be willing to follow directions and learn from you. If you share a little about yourself and are open and honest, they are more likely going to trust you and want to learn from you.
Play some get to know you games, some ice breakers, and other activities that also let them share about themselves. Even an art project will help some kids open more.
The more you learn about your students, the more you will be able to create lesson plans that fit their interests. Once you do that, they will be practically begging you to let them lead the classes!
2. Learn Classroom Management Skills
One of the next most important things is to learn how to manage classroom behavior. If you want details, read this post here!
If you are teaching a class, treat it like a class! Create rules, set expectations and boundaries, tell them the class plan and their goal for learning.
If you are in a camp, a studio, or at home, it’s still important to have a level of expectations and rules. Kids need boundaries so they feel safe and have maximize their learning.
One thing to try is to meet the class at their energetic level.
You need to have yoga poses, games and activities that match their energy, and then can bring them back down. If that means you start out with jumping jacks and pushups, that’s great! Or a quick race across the room, game of Red Light Green Light, that’s an option too!
Kid’s yoga classes don’t have to look like adult classes, in fact they really shouldn’t.
You want to show your kiddos that you understand their needs… this is accomplished when you teach them engaging content in a way that keeps them involved and treats them like a kid, not an adult.
3. Keep Your Class Outline Consistent
Seriously. Pick a routine, pick some rules, and stick to them. Plan for more than you need, but stick to a general outline so kids know what to expect.
You can even post the routine on the wall or a poster so they can SEE it and know what’s coming.
When they lead active and overstimulating lives, kids need routine and they need consistency, especially when you are trying to help them find calm.
My class plan for 45 minute third and fourth-grade classes looks like this:
- High fives upon entering the class
- Every student walks right to their circle spot
- A quick greeting and possible asses the energy
- One leader calls out “P.E.” style warm-ups that we all do together for 3-5 min
- 1 minute of breathing
- Yoga Flow for 5-7 minutes call and response style
- Choice time activities (they pick one to do for 10 min):
- Clean up, Cool down poses
- Savasana, or resting pose
It took me three and a half years to figure this out, but I am finally feeling really good about the classes and the structure. The kids get lots of movement time, and also a good amount of free choice time and relaxing.
We have fun and are very productive!
There are plenty of other ways to outline a class:
Join my Ultimate Kids Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Training to get tons of resources, class outlines, lesson plans, and ideas for teaching a variety of classes and ages.
4. Do a call and response sequence (Yoga Flow) as a whole group
With my chattiest classes, I started doing our warm-up Yoga Flow (sun salutation plus more poses added on) with a call and response.
Say the pose name, and they repeat it out loud while we all did the movements together. This helps them for many reasons:
- They have to use their voice for a purpose instead of interrupting me
- They learn the names of the poses quickly
- We all move and get warmed up right away
- You can introduce new and challenging poses in the middle or near the end to keep them interested and motivated
- The routine of coming in and starting almost immediately with the same thing is comforting and keeps them from getting distracted by other things
- It keeps them accountable because it’s much easier to notice who isn’t following along when we flow together in a sun salutation for several minutes
- They are generally quite tired after an 8-10 minute flow and are able to do some breathing activities to calm down. Then they can listen to directions better.
Seriously, the call and response thing was an absolute savior. I started it almost on a whim and the first few times were a little awkward, but still so much better than what I’d tried before. I gave the directions to repeat the pose name after me, and copy the moves I do.
By making it rhythmic, it felt like a dance. That was enticing, too.
To make it super successful, I just kept reminding them:
- only say the pose name, not anything else
- use your breath instead if you get tired
- only say the pose names if you are actually doing the poses
Get the 30 kids yoga poses I use in the Yoga Flow here!
30 brand new digital images, pose descriptions, tips on how to teach a Yoga Flow and MORE.
5. Play some yoga games!
Active kids tend to be a bit more competitive. Aside from playing games, utilize this by giving “shout outs” to kids who are working hard and continuing to try and participate.
Circle games are great, and so many games can be modified to fit yoga poses:
- Museum (directions in the link above!)
- Yogi Says
- Strike a pose! Like freeze dance, but when you stop the music, tell them a pose, or an idea for a pose (A water animal! A type of bird! A balance!)
- Yoga Memory
- Yoga Dice game (grab your copy below!)
- Red light, yellow light, green light (red light is a pose, yellow light is slow motion, green is go.
Printable board games with yoga poses, including a yoga fortune teller, several types of Yoga Dice games, and yoga spinner games are all available here.
Check out these posts on other games that I use with these age groups as well:
- Yoga Games for Kids: Active Kids Yoga Group Games
- 5 Active Kid’s Yoga Games to Have Fun in a Group
- How to Play Engagingly Creative Yoga Games with Your Kids or Students
- Virtual and Social Distance Games for Kids Yoga Classes
- Fun and Easy Kids Yoga Games to Play with Your Kids at Home
6. Try Some Partner Poses
Let kids partner up and create some poses together! This gives them more opportunity to socialize and chat with one another if the group is very talkative.
This pack of yoga cards, Yoga Pretzels, has the BEST partner poses. The double boat pose is a good one, seesaw (wide legged forward fold reaching towards each other), and resting rock (child’s pose and seated backbend) are some favorites.
They can also make up their own partner poses!
This gives them a great chance to be creative, expressive, and show off new ideas.
Make sure you set up expectations for how many feet have to be on the floor, and whether or not they can hold each up… etc. Set clear parameters first!
7. Help them create a yoga sequence routine, and video it.
Some of my students got way motivated to do yoga when I told them the poses could be ordered like a dance or gymnastics routine. It’s like they suddenly thought it was way cooler.
They used a deck of cards, lined up about 15, and counted to 5 for each pose so they were matching each other perfectly. It turned out super cute and I sent the video to their parents, which they LOVED.
SOme kids just did them for a certain number of counts each, some decided to tell a story and make it really silly, others wanted to put it with music!
They ended up being really creative and fun to watch.
The bottom line: Kid’s Yoga Classes Don’t have to Be Just About Yoga
Kids are not inclined to sit still or hold poses for long lengths of time. SUre, you can work up to that, and a certain about of stillness and mindfulness in classes is really importnat.
But don’t expect your classes to be calm and silent the whole time like an adult class. If they are, you probably aren’t teaching them much since kids really need to engage, ask questions, create, and be moving a lot in order to be learning.
I hope this helps you in teaching your active and energetic classes. Good luck!
Don’t forget to get your pose images for the Kids Yoga Flow here: