Can you tell stories to teach kids yoga poses? Absolutely.
Teaching kids yoga is way different from teaching adult yoga. Kids like to play, have fun, pretend, and be noisy. Not what you’d expect in an adult yoga class with calm, quiet, controleed movement.
If you want to teach kids yoga, you need to meet the kids where they are and teach them in a way that fits their age.
But how do you explain how to do each yoga pose in a kid friendly way?
Imagine you have a whole group of kiddos, active and moving, needing something to hook them and keep them interested.
What do you do??
I highly recommend using stories with yoga poses added in.
It’s so simple and so fun, especially with kids as young as 2 and up to ages 9 or 10!
How do you teach yoga with stories?
- Tell or read a story that you know, or make one up.
- Put some movement with it and some animal yoga poses where it makes sense in the story.
- Tell the kiddos to follow along with your movements and, voila! You are teaching kids yoga with stories.
There’s something incredibly compelling about our voices as soon as we start telling a story that makes kids (and people) want to listen.
There is a reason so many cultures have folktales, creation stories and myths that are passed down in oral traditions. Stories are things that we remember, and when you add in movement it can be even more powerful.
Here’s a short video of myself doing a kids yoga story lesson to the book, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen.
Keep reading to learn more about how to create yoga stories for kids!
It just so happens though, telling stories with yoga poses really helps kids learn yoga poses.
Almost all of the poses are either animals or nature related things with your odd transportation vehicle thrown in (boat, airplane, plow).
Just know your animal poses and transportation vehicles and go with the flow of the mood.
If, for example, you start your story with a dog, get the kiddos into dog pose. Say they meet a cat, then a cow, and then everybody “hikes” along into the forest to a find … a what? a tree. And they meet an eagle. And the eagle takes them flying (warrior 3) to a waterfall (forward fold). Then they all go swimming (active lotus). And suddenly there is a dolphin! Who loves to jump! And jumps so high she goes over a boat! And so on, and so forth.
Yes, it’s perfect to throw in some subjugated movement to act out specific parts of the story.
Make them do a little prancing, hopping, walking in place, etc… before, after, and during traditionally static poses. Kids have 10000000% more energy than you. Guaranteed. And you should let them use it.
So, there you have the start of very appealing, interesting, and energetically balancing set of yoga poses to hook kids on yoga and keep them moving and healthy.
But what if you think you aren’t creative enough to think these up in the moment??
Well, you have several choices:
1. Pick a book you know, and act it out using poses
This works really well with LOTS of library books! All it takes is a book with a compelling plot line that is age appropriate for the kids you are working with.
It helps to choose a book that has lots of animals, or one animal going through an adventure. It works really well to just pick one animal or object for each page. Do, or show, the pose just before or after you read the page.
Some of the best “regular” books for yoga storytelling are:
- The Giving Tree
- Not a Box
- The Mitten
- Follow the Drinking Gourd
- I Want My Hat Back
- Commotion in the Ocean
- Giraffes Can’t Dance
- My Many Colored Days
The last three, by Aaron Becker, are my favorites because there are no words, just compelling characters going on an adventure. You get to tell the story all by yourself, or have the students tell it!
These posts all have a lesson plan and yoga poses plotted out with the book:
2. Purchase pre-written yoga books for kids
There are lots of kids yoga books out there that have yoga poses already built into the plot line. They have become increasingly popular over the last 8 years, for good reason.
Read the book, learn the yoga poses with your kiddos or students, and do the pose right there on each page.
3. Plan your own fun yoga story ahead of time and use a cheat sheet
Write down 10-15 poses and tell a mini story to yourself while looking at the names of poses.
Your IRL story may change a bit but the children won’t notice, or care!
A good way to do this is to start with one animal character and keep coming back to that throughout the story as conflicts come and go.
You can draw out the stick poses or use a set of yoga cards (more info below!) to help you remember as you are teaching your lesson plan to kiddos.
Here are some examples of storytelling with yoga lesson plans that you can grab for free!
4. Use a deck of yoga cards to pull random characters
Then make up a sequence based on those characters on the spot. It’ll be really weird and not make sense but, trust me, the kids will find it funny if you give it a bit of emotion and play up how silly it is.
You can also put them in order ahead of time (like above) and hold them up one at a time as you tell the story, or tape them up on a wall so everyone can see.
- Yoga Pretzels
- Yogi Fun Kids Cards
- ABC’s of Yoga for Kids Cards
- Enchanted Wonders A-Z cards
- Kid’s Yoga Challenge Pose Cards
5. Let the students help you tell the story!
Remember how kids have more energy than you? Their brains might be more creative than yours is too, hate to break it to you.
Once the kids know enough poses and/or just the idea that we stay on our mats and make shapes that (vaguely) represent parts of a story, then they will be able to help you tell the story.
Tell them to raise a hand to add on and tell what happens next in the story. Try to get them to pick one pose and tell what is happening with that pose.
Again, it will be convoluted and you may end up on the moon, at the mall, or in Candyland, but hey! We are using our imaginations! It’s the whole point!
We always end up laughing and creating for more time than I planned, and that creates the best space for trust and learning that I could ever hope for.
I’ve learned to give myself a lot of credit every time I simply make it through 10-15 poses and all the kiddos are in one piece at the end and still in my classroom.
We have fun, we learn together, and we tell stories together at the same time! It’s always a blast.
Have you ever tried storytelling with yoga poses? To kids or adults? What worked? What was hard about it?
I’d love to hear your stories and ideas as well below!
Also, if you are just starting to teach yoga to kids, check out these popular posts below:
- Tips and Tricks You Need to Know to Teach Kids Yoga
- How to Teach Phenomenal Kid’s Yoga Classes Using Simple Themes
- 5 Fun New Ways to Teach a Kid’s Yoga Class
Thanks for being here!!
Interested in learn how to teach yoga to kids professionally?
Post updated June 2021