Chinese New Year, or the Lunar New Year, makes an awesome kids yoga less plan.
With all of the animals for each year, it’s easy to go through a lot of different yoga pose. Plus, the holiday is a celebration of health and wellness, plus looking ahead to new beginnings.
Try these fun kids yoga activities and poses to honor and celebrate the Lunar Year with your students wherever you are!
What is the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival?
Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday celebration of the year in China and many other Asian countries (where it is usually called the Lunar New Year).
The date of the holiday changes every year, based on the Lunar calendar, or when the first new moon of the year occurs. It marks the start of a new year, and of the coming springtime.
The holiday is a celebration to ring in the New Year with health, good fortune, and family.
Some Facts about Lunar New Year for Kids:
- Chinese New Year starts on the first new moon of the year and lasts 15 days, until the Lantern Festival. It can also be called the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival.
- Red is a lucky color and is worn often during the holiday season to bring good luck and prosperity
- Houses are cleaned thoroughly before the New Year starts to get rid of old bad luck
- Oranges and sweets are often given to kids, always in even numbers
- 8 is an especially lucky number
- Red envelopes with money are given as gifts to help bring more good luck
- Dragon and lion dances with giant puppets are held during parades to drive away evil spirits and bad luck
- It’s a tradition to light off lots of firecrackers to scare away bad spirits as well
- Each year celebrates a new zodiac sign in the Chinese zodiac. There are 12 animals to represent the zodiac, and each one has different qualities and characteristics.
2023 is the year of the Rabbit
Lunar new year celebrations in 2023 start on January 22 and continue until February 5th with the Lantern Festival.
People born in the year of the tiger are gentle, compassionate, amiable, and have good memories.
How to Celebrate the Lunar New Year in a Kids Yoga Class?
There are lots of things you can do to teach a kids yoga class with the Chinese New Year animals.
There are many legends and stories of the animals in the zodiac that would be a great story for adding in yoga poses. The Great Race to the Heavenly Gate would be perfect.
(See my storytelling yoga post for more ideas on how to teach a kids yoga story with poses)
Before you tell a yoga story though, it’s important to help kids get warmed up and ready to move.
Pretend to clean out the house and wash laundry before the New Year’s eve with these warm up exercises.
Stand with feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold your arms bent at the elbows next to your ribs, and gently twist side to side. Keep your feet planted on the floor and just twist side to side. Make a swishing sound as you go side to side.
Keeping the same stance as washer, hold your arms at shoulder height, elbows bent and forearms stacked in front of you. Twirl them around each other with your fists clenched to simulate a dryer going in a circular motion. Blow gently on your arms with hot dryer air.
Sweep the floors
Pretend to hold a broom and sweep across your mat from one side to the other and back, making sideways steps as you go.
Mop the floors
Stand in a wide-legged forward fold and make big circles with your hands on the floor to pretend to mop and clean the floor.
Hang the lanterns
Go back and forth between a forward fold and reaching up high on tippy toes to pretend to hang the red lanterns that are so special and symbolic during Chinese New Year.
Time for fireworks!
Squat down low in frog pose, then jump up high, spreading out like a star or firework shape in the air. Do as many as you can with big explosive “booms!”.
Mindful Dragon and Lion Breath to Dispel Bad Luck and Evil Spirits
During the Chinese New Year, parades are held with dancers in lion costumes and carrying large dragon puppets. These are said to drive away bad luck and evil spirits to start the New Year fresh with health and prosperity.
Let’s do the same to start our yoga with some nice deep mindful inhales and loud fierce exhales!
In through your nose, then breathe out through your mouth, while sticking out your tongue and roaring ahhhhhhh!!
Do this breathing in Lion pose, or Dragon (further below) for a good mindfulness breathing activity.
Books to Use with Your Kids Yoga Class Plan on Lunar New Year
These books are a great way to learn more about the traditions and customs of the Chinese New Year. You can do yoga poses that go along with the story, or just read the book and do the poses in a storytelling format afterwards.
My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz
Lunar New Year by Hannah Eliot
How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace
Kid’s Yoga Poses for the 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs
If you choose to tell the story of the race to heaven’s gate, do the yoga poses at the same time, or show them first all together. Then the kids can do the poses as you tell the story too.
Next to each Chinese zodiac sign is an affirmation or a positive trait associated with that sign. You can use the affirmation as a mantra to say while practicing each yoga pose!
Rat- I am Smart
Ox- I am Patient
Cat and Cow Poses
Tiger- I am Adventurous
Rabbit- I am Intuitive
Dragon- I am Kind
Snake- I am Curious
Horse- I am Generous
Goat/Ram-I am Creative
Three Legged Dog
Monkey- I am Funny
Rooster- I am Brave
Dog- I am Playful
Downward Dog Pose
Pig- I am Loving
Happy Baby Pose
Mindful Eating for the Lunar New Year
Oranges, being a bright round color, symbolize good fortune and health in the Chinese New Year.
If you can, bring a few clementines or an orange to class. Give each child a piece of the orange. Practice mindful eating by just looking and observing the orange slice first. What do you see?
Then, feel the orange, what does it feel like? Soft, smooth, sticky?
Smell the orange slice and describe the scent, and maybe how it makes you feel.
Finally, taste the orange and really savor it. How does it taste? What is the texture, or the temperature.
Craft for Chinese Yoga Class Plan – Lanterns!
The final day of the Chinese New Year celebration is the Lantern festival.
Make a craft lantern with this fun template from Kitchen Table Classroom.
Place a battery operated candle inside and focus on the light for some more mindful moments.
I hope you enjoy this kids yoga lesson plan on how to celebrate the Lunar New Year with your kids or students!
What other holidays do you like to teach kids about in your kids yoga lessons?