Teaching kids yoga isn’t as easy as you might expect due to several myths you may have heard. What misconceptions keep you from being the best kids yoga teacher?
I hear this all the time: oh you teach kid’s yoga? How fun and relaxing!
They must love it and be so calm and flexible! You must be really good at the splits by now, huh?
I do yoga on my own every morning and I teach 9 kids yoga classes every day and I still can’t do the splits.
Not only am I not super flexible, but the misconception of kids being super flexible threw me off my first few years of teaching as well.
Sure, some of them are, but not all kids are flexible.
And no they don’t all love yoga immediately.
Before I learned more about some of these supposed myths of kids and yoga, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. was a struggle.
There were hours spent lesson planning and rewriting lessons every day after they bombed. I thought I knew how to teach kids yoga, but I was just not quite getting it.
At last, I figured out I had some blinders up. I wasn’t approaching the problems the right way because I had some preconceived false ideas about how to teach yoga to kids.
Additionally, I learned how to teach kids yoga to a specific set of kids and the ones I was teaching in my public school are VERY different.
Once I realized this, took a step back to reevaluate my stereotypes, I was able to approach with different ideas and tools in my toolbox.
Teaching yoga to kids is now a fun and rewarding part of my everyday life, and it all started with breaking down these myths.
Myth #1: Kids are naturally flexible and can do all the poses easily
Not all kids are flexible. Just like adults, our baseline flexibility is all different.
And, flexibilty is very quickly lost when it is not being practiced regularly. Many kids do not get enough regular physical exercise to maintain whatever flexibility they were born with. (Nearly 60% of kids in America, as of 2020!)
It’s important to recognize the variety and differences in kids bodies, without being judgmental. You can’t go into a class assuming all kids can touch their toes or do bridge pose.
Start with modified poses and then build up to poses that require more flexibility gradually as you get to know their level.
Myth #2: Yoga makes kids calm
Yoga can definitely help some kids be calmer and focused, but the act of doing the yoga poses doesn’t just magically calm them down.
You need to have the right sequence of poses, the right breathing techniques, and a calm environment to really help kids feel relaxed.
Even then, not all kids get to a point of calm that we can expect in adults—it just might not be in their personality. That’s ok!
Yoga is good for all kids because it can give them what they need. If you teach it the right way it can lead to calmer classrooms, but calm might look or sound different than what you expect.
Mindfulness paired with yoga can definitely help lead to more moments of calm, but again it takes practice.
Myth #3: All kids love yoga!
Not true. Lots of kids love yoga, and if you are at a studio you might just have an entire class of little yoga lovers.
But if you are going into schools or trying to introduce yoga to your own kids, they might not warm up to it right away.
Many kids at my school still say outright to me that they hate yoga.
Always take their words with a grain of salt, of course. But, it’s okay to not love yoga, but it IS important to try.
Like math, yoga is a required subject at my school because we know it’s good for them. We never force them to do it, but I have come up with many strategies for helping them learn to at least appreciate it :). (Read: games!!)
It’s important to tell them WHY and HOW yoga is good for the bodies and their brains. You need to show them how they can use yoga and mindfulness practices to help get ready for a test, or how it helps athletes prepare for sports games.
Weaving yoga in with academics is also a fun way to sort of sneak it into the curriculum without going too crazy.
Myth #4: Yoga is too religious to teach to kids
Well, yoga and meditation do have a connection at their roots to the religion of Hinduism.
However, yoga itself is not a religion. Especially, not the way that many kid’s yoga teachers practice it with their students.
Yoga does not have organized rules or leaders, and is not connected to any institutions. It does not have gods or services, or spiritual texts that make any theological claims.
Many practitioners of yoga do read and follow the Yoga Sutras, which have a set of philosophical and moral guidelines (Yamas and Niyamas) as a set of virtues to follow. However, these still do not have connection to gods or religious beings. They instead help us remember moral virtues that will contribute to the wellbeing and happiness of all living things in our physical world.
In schools, yoga is used as a movement-based activity to help kids get more exercise and learn beneficial physical and mental skills such as:
- stress reduction
- spatial awareness
- core muscle stability
- regulation of movement
- breathing techniques for calming down
- emotional regulation
- improved strength
- and more!
These benefits, plus the added goal of most kid’s yoga teachers to help kids learn basic life skills, means that yoga is a great class to have in schools, or at least a wonderful addition to the day’s schedule.
Yoga and mindfulness can help kids learn skills that set them up for success in all areas of their life. It teaches them persistence, concentration, and acceptance as well as tolerance and cooperation skills.
If you yourself practice yoga and find it to be religious or spiritual, or if your connection to yoga comes from a personal religious belief, you are not wrong, of course!
However, for kids, yoga is a great physical and mental exercise that leads to an amazing amount of life skills and emotional regulations skills that set them up for success in all areas of life.
Myth #5: You need to be a yoga teacher to teach kids yoga
As of right now, in most places, you don’t need to be a certified yoga teacher or a licensed teacher in order to teach kids yoga classes to bring yoga to the lives of the kids around you.
It does depend on where you are teaching, of course. Public schools have more requirements, yoga studios may as well. But if you have kids in your life, if you work with kids as a social worker or have your own children, you can definitely do yoga with your kids without a certification.
It helps to be familiar enough with yoga as a practice, but that experience can come from going to classes, doing yoga videos online, and just doing your own research.
Passion is the best educator, and if you have the will, you can find the way.
If you want a certification though, look no further than my fully online, self-paced Kids Yoga Teacher Training!
Learn the basics and advanced techniques of teaching kids yoga, mindfulness, kids anatomy, teaching strategies, behavior management, and SO much more!
Plus, access tons of resources to help you out on the right foot: lesson plans, themes, one page sequences, the Yoga Flow sequence, videos of classes, and so much more!
Maia will be there with you, review your teaching, and help you out with live Zoom Q&A sessions to guide you through the training every step of the way 🙂
Myth #6: Teaching kids yoga is easy because you just do yoga and relax with kids
Absolutely not! Teaching kids yoga is hard.
It’s fun, but it took me a long time to feel that way every day.
The beginning was hard because I didn’t have my routines down, I didn’t know how to set up my room and space, I didn’t know how long it took to do a lesson and how much planning I needed to do.
It was hard because I didn’t have sequences that worked, and I didn’t know how to talk in way that would get kids to listen…
All of that being said, once you DO have the tools and experience to do it right, yes, teaching yoga is fun and extremely rewarding.
I get to do yoga every day with kids and play and relax. But it still isn’t always easy.
So, I bet your next big burning question is how DO you teach yoga to kids the right way?
How do you make it a little easier and a lot more fun?
Games are a great way to start bringing yoga to kids a little at a time. Here are several posts with awesome games ideas for whole class activities.
- How to Play Engagingly Creative Yoga Games with your Kids or Students
- Yoga Games for Kids: Active Kids Yoga Group Games
- Virtual and Social Distance Games for Kids Yoga Classes
- Group Kids “Yoga” Games With a Ball
Here are some fun and easy kids yoga games that you can download and print to play right away!
Storytelling and yoga go really well together.
Here are some posts on how to teach kids yoga using books and storytelling lesson plans:
- How to Use Storytelling for Kid’s Yoga
- “Journey”: An Active Kid’s Yoga Lesson Plan to Build a Love of Storytelling
- Kid’s Yoga Story Lesson Plan based on the book Not a Box
- “Follow the Drinking Gourd”: A kid’s yoga lesson plan with an equity mindset
- “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein: A Free Lesson Plan for Teaching Kids Yoga
- “The Great Kapok Tree”: Rain Forest Themed Kids Yoga and Literacy Lesson Plan
- Teaching Kids Emotional Awareness with “My Many Colored Days” Yoga Lesson- with Video!
For some advice on the really hard stuff, like classroom management and sequence planning for kids yoga, check out these posts:
- Learn to Calmly Manage Crazy Classroom Behavior in a Kids Yoga Class
- Kids Yoga Sequences that Keep Kids Engaged
- How to Start Teaching Yoga to Kids
Also, let me know what you need help with!
Reach out here by leaving a comment, or sign up for the Free Resources Library (link in menu bar) and email me directly that way. I am happy to help with an email or a video chat, and I write posts based on what readers need to know.