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When teaching kids yoga classes, most of the time you want to get the kids moving and keep them active; a yoga sequence can be a great way to do that.
Finding a balance between the two can be tricky when you are teaching little kids or very active and disengaged kids.
I always like to try to get kids moving right away at the beginning of class, but I also think it is important for them to ground in and feel connected and calm. It’s hard to properly do yoga poses if you aren’t in the present moment.
Usually at the beginning of my classes we do a simply grounding activity or pose that takes 1 minute or less, then we get right into the poses.
There are several ways to do yoga poses in a sequence with kids, but most of the time it ends up being EITHER fast or slow.
Kids can also get easily distracted without a set yoga sequence or a routine.
Benefits of doing yoga poses slowly with kids
Trying out poses one at a time is good for building strength and flexibility. I am always telling my students that yoga is good for their muscles, and when we do yoga poses slowly that is definitely true.
Doing yoga at a slower pace helps kids focus on their alignment (which isn’t usually the main goal, but can help keep them safe).
When you slow down you also automatically focus more on breath and mindfulness.
Kids can learn more about body anatomy, proprioception (awareness of their body in space), and body control when doing yoga poses one at a time.
Finally, doing yoga poses slowly also helps teach kids about patience and stamina.
Benefits of speeding up a yoga practice with a sequence or a Yoga Flow:
Sometimes you want kids to go through yoga poses more quickly though, to really get them moving and feel active. They need to burn off energy or raise their heart rate to help them wake up and stay focused.
And often times kids want to just DO more and listen less. I notice this a lot when teaching kids at my charter school: they are so tired of listening to adults teach them things all day. They want to just get in there and DO IT. (Thanks, Nike)
Also, moving kids through poses faster helps keep them paying attention and aware. They notice the movement of energy, the rhythm, and the flow. They get drawn in by this and want to join in as well.
This is when a more active yoga sequence, a vinyasa style yoga flow, would be helpful.
What is a yoga sequence?
A yoga sequence is a specific set of yoga poses done in a row, in the same order (mostly) every time. Yoga sequences can be done slowly with breaks in between, but most of the time they are done quickly, matching approximately one pose per breath.
A yoga sequence is a great way to get kids active in a classroom, at home in the morning, or before bed.
Here is a free one page kids yoga sequence that works great. But if you work with larger groups or want to extend the sequence and make it more variable, keep reading to learn about the Yoga Flow.
Yoga routines are also great for teaching kids yoga in a studio.
Adult yoga classes are almost always taught with a sequence pre-determined by the yoga teacher, or the program (i.e. Baptiste Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, etc.)
Many times kids yoga classes are taught with a sequence that is also pre-determined by the teacher.
Teachers can make up sequences based on a make believe story or a book, or they can put poses in an order that makes sense to them. Many teachers let kids create their own sequence based on what feels good, and that works too.
My favorite way to teach kids yoga is with a sequence that I call a Yoga Flow.
I have based my kids Yoga Flow sequence off of many adult style classes that I’ve been too that really help me get moving and stop thinking too much.
A Yoga Flow is sometimes referred to as a vinyasa style of yoga (vinyasa means flow in Sanskrit). When I do vinyasa yoga as an adult attending class, I notice that I think less about things that are worrying me, and focus more on my movement and breath.
When I started teaching kids yoga in a charter school 5 years ago I had the hardest time getting kids to stop talking, stop wandering, stop worrying and feeling anxious, and just start moving.
Finally, I realized I needed to create that same sense of rhythm, flow, and movement of energy that I loved in my yoga classes.
That’s what got me moving when I was having trouble staying focused, I figured I’d try it out with my students.
It worked SO well!
I have since fined tuned the yoga sequence and practice quite a bit, but I am super happy with how it has evolved, and also stayed quite the same over time.
When I teach kids using a Yoga Flow, I go through the whole sequence a couple of times pretty quickly.
We move fast, breathing the whole time, and then we start to slow down. I add in some balance poses, some trickier poses that need explaining, and I often give kids a chance to add in what they would like to do as well.
Once we get really good at the Flow as a whole class, I start to let other kids lead too. It’s super fun and they always feel so proud!
So what poses can you use in a yoga flow sequence for kids?
I include most of the poses in a traditional Sun Salutation B, and then I add more according to their age, abilities, and attention.
Here’s an example of a yoga sequence I do with my students every day:
- Tadasana (standing mountain)
- Forward Fold
- High Plank
- Baby Cobra
- Up Dog
- Down Dog
- Low Lunge
- Warrior 1
- Warrior 2
- Warrior 3
- Tree Pose
There is some repetition in there and switching sides.
I often add in trickier poses like Boat and Bridge when I know that they are ready for it. Dragon and Monkey are great for prepping for the splits (they like to know that fact!).
We do a few more poses on our tummies for littler kids (baby shark is super popular, of course!).
A shorter yoga sequence for younger kids that works well is:
- Cat pose
- Cow pose (repeat those two a few times)
- Down Dog
- Cobra (we hide in the grass and then push up to cobra on the count of 3)
- Shark pose (on your tummy and grab your hands behind you like a fin)
- Puppy (like child’s pose but with your hips over your knees, not on your feet)
- Frog pose (hop if you want!)
- Star pose (spread your feet apart and reach your arms up and out)
There are lots more additions you can do for older or more experienced kids too, of course.
Older students, once they know more poses can create their own mini yoga sequences to teach to each other. This is super fun for them and lets them create yoga sequences based on poses they want to do.