How to Teach Yoga to Active and Energetic Kids

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Teaching yoga to kids in elementary school be loud and crazy, those 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 and fourth.

They are active, bigger, more used to challenging authority and also tend to be more interested in social interactions than learning.  *EYE ROLL*

So how do you teach yoga to these kinds of kids?

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?

yoga games and activities for active and energetic kids

After four years of struggling with this very issue, I have finally found some miraculous fixes to the wild and active yoga classes.

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?

One of the next most important things is to learn how to manage classroom behavior.  If you want details, read this post here!

Learn to Calmly Manage Classroom Behavior in a Yoga Classroom

Most importantly, you need to be able 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.  

You want to show them that you understand their needs… this is accomplished when you teach them engaging content in a way that keeps them involved.

Tips for kids yoga class activities

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.

I 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
  • I 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.

Kids Yoga Cards for the Perfect Yoga Flow

Play some games!

three kids showing triangle pose for a shapes yoga math class

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:

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!

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.

Be consistent with your class outline!

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. 

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
  • 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!

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    Let me know if 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:

    Kid’s Yoga Pose Cards for the Perfect Yoga Flow

    yoga flow poses for kids

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    6 thoughts on “How to Teach Yoga to Active and Energetic Kids”

    1. Huge help !!! Thanks so much for sharing. I get a lot of anxiety before my classes and tips like this make a huge difference. I will definitely be following this flow of the class.

      • Hey Meagan, thanks for reading!

        I’m so glad this post helps you. I had a lot of anxiety in my first few years of teaching yoga too, and actually, I still do even now occasionally! I hope these tips help you. The best thing for tricky classes to be consistent and keep a positive attitude. You can do this! Let me know if you need any other tips or advice, and definitely check out my free yoga lesson plans 🙂


    2. Hi, Thanks for this, really helpful. Can I ask in your choice time do the class as a whole choose one thing that they all do or are they all doing different things?

      • Great question Hayley! In my class they have two separate areas for choice time. They go Mindfulness Centers two days a week, and Yoga Centers two times a week half the class at each according to groups I have chose. I call the group to go to their station as they are ready. Within those centers they have choices that I have shown them how to use and they ask by holding up a finger to indicate which choice (1-yoga cards, 2-yoga dice game, 3 yoga memory… etc) This process takes time to roll out but once it’s all learned it goes really smoothly. It gives them autonomy within a set structure and that keeps us all happy! 🙂 Hope this helps!

    3. Thank you so much for this, I am starting to teach yoga for the first time and I am absolutely anxious. The suggestions you have given are excellent and I will use them. How do you differentiate yoga lessons for the different age groups?


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