Yoga poses and activities may seem a little out of reach for kindergarten aged kids. However, as a kid’s yoga teacher of over 9 years, I can say that teaching yoga to kindergarten is not only so much fun, it’s also so good for them.
Kids ages 5-6 in kindergarten are full of energy, questions, excitement for learning, and are usually in awe of school and its exciting new things.
They love to learn new things and are so excited to make connections between things they know and new information.
Kindergarten kiddos are also constantly wanting to move, wiggle, and explore their movement abilities.
Yoga is a wonderful way to help kids channel their physical energy and intellectual willingness at the same time.
What age can kids start doing yoga?
Many people believe yoga is just for people that are grown up, but this is not true!
Kids as young as 3 or 4 can take yoga in a class, and many places offer yoga for babies and toddlers as well.
Babies and toddlers learn motor skills, are assisted in movement and stretching, and can interact with their caretakers in new ways to develop spatial awareness.
Kids as young as 4 and 5 and into kindergarten can do lots of yoga poses on their own, and the experience of yoga classes will help them develop coordination, balance, strength, flexibility, cross body awareness and function, and so much more.
Kindergarteners are excellent yogis, partly because they are fairly well developed at many large motor activities. However, they are still learning their way around more complex body movements and fine kinesthetic awareness — a skill you can learn with yoga poses.
Plus, they are still eager to try new things without embarrassment or fear!
How do you teach yoga to kindergarteners?
- Channel their energy with a good sequence of poses or some music
- Incorporate some fun breathing exercises
- Use books to weave in movement and poses to learning
- Challenge them with stillness and balance
- Allow them to rest and teach savasana with a purpose
Kids in kindergarten need lots of time to move and get out their energy. Yoga time can be an excellent way to integrate this into their day because you will have times of movement, and times of stillness.
Going back and forth between high and low energy activities helps kids learn to regulate their own energy and gain awareness of body control.
Here are some specific ways to incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your day with kindergarteners to help them get some much needed movement and stillness.
Use a rhythmic kids yoga sequence to help them get Kindergarteners moving and active right away
Kids in kindergarten often learn through a technique called “call and response”. This is something that encourages listening, repetition, and taps into their sense of rhythm.
You can use this in yoga class too, with a rhythmic yoga sequence called a Yoga Flow. It’s a set sequence of poses that work for kids and is used in a call and response style to help them stay focused, engaged, and have fun!
It’s an easy enough sequence to start teaching without any prep work. You tell the kiddos to “follow along and repeat after me!” Then just get right to it.
It’s ok if you don’t go exactly in the right order, or if you skip a few poses. The purpose is to have fun and get them moving and following along.
Once they’ve gone through it a few times, you’ll be surprised to hear them anticipating the next pose, and starting to learn the placement of feet and arms a little better each time.
Yoga is all about practice and improvement, so just encourage them to keep trying and they will get better each time!
Add in breathing exercises for kindergartners to have fun while calming their bodies back down
After a Yoga Flow warm up, it’s important to give kindergarten kids a chance to calm their body back down with some breathing exercises.
There are lots of fun breathing exercises you can practice with little kids. Many are animal themed and others are just a fun way to incorporate hand movements.
Our favorite breathing exercise in kindergarten are these:
- Lion’s breath: sit on your knees, show your claws, breathe in big, then stick out your tongue to go “ahhhhrrr!”
- Snake breath: Lay on your tummy with your head down, then press your torso up and make a big HISS!
- Bunny breath: sit on your knees and tuck your “paws” in close. Sniff in three times quickly, then exhale slowly.
- Trace five: sit criss cross and hold one hand out with your fingers spread wide. Trace around each finger with your other pointer finger, up to breathe in, and down to breathe back out.
- Elevator: place a hand down by your bellybutton and raise it up like an elevator as you breathe in, and lower it as you breathe out.
- Birthday candles.
Of course, it’s important to have a breathing ball to help guide them in inhales and exhales too, and they can follow along with the hand motion of their choice. We use a Hoberman Sphere that works great!
Read a book and add in playful yoga poses to help young kids practice movement while learning something new
A wonderful and cheap way to teach yoga to kindergarteners is to simply use a book that you already have and add in some yoga poses to make the book “interactive” and more fun!
Find a book that has lots of animal characters, or is like an adventure with something new on each page. With each time you encounter a new animal in the book, add in the matching yoga pose to teach your children and let them get some much needed movement.
Hold the pose for a few deep breaths and then sit back down to keep reading the story. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is, and how it keeps them engaged and less wiggly.
I’ve created a few full length lesson plans to go along with my favorite books that work with kids yoga poses. Check them out here:
- The Giving Tree Yoga Lesson Plan
- Journey, an Active Kids Yoga Lesson Plan for Storytelling
- My Many Colored Days Yoga Lesson Plan
- The Great Kapok Tree Kids Yoga Lesson plan
Challenge kindergarteners with yoga poses that have stillness and balance
Kindergarten kiddos are full of movement and play, which is wonderful and so much fun. But part of yoga is encouraging them to learn stillness as well.
Many yoga poses for kids include some movement and playfulness, wich is perfectly acceptable. But it’s important to find a few poses and instances to teach them to pause and breathe.
Add in a challenge pose (Warrior 1 or 2, Triangle, Crab, Down Dog) and tell them to see how still they can be in the pose. Can they be as still as a statue? Take a few deep breaths, still, but try to be completely still otherwise and feel how strong your muscles are!
Balance poses are great for this, and will take time to work up to. But use a wall or a chair to start, and teach them a few balancing tips and tricks and they will be expert balancers in no time.
Kids love a challenge or a little friendly competition, and this can be effective in helping them learn to find some stillness in their yoga practice.
Allow them to rest and relax with a purposeful savasana
Savasana, or corpse pose, is one of the most important yoga poses in any class or session. This is no exception for kids yoga!
Yes, kindergarten kids can practice resting in savasana, and they will LOVE it once they start to do it the right way and feel successful.
Teach them the pose as if it is the hardest pose they will do, simply because it can be really hard for kids to lay quiet and still. Talk them through a guided meditation at the same time, and really let them settle into the pose.
Give them tons of praise for their success in resting and let them know how good the pose is for their brains. They will be so excited to do it again next time.
What are the best yoga poses for kindergarteners?
Kindergarteners can do so many yoga poses, especially if they still have the natural flexibility they were born with. (Remember that not all kids are flexible at this age though, so be prepared to give modifications as needed!)
The best poses to do with kids ages 4-6 are animal themed poses, or things you can find in nature. Which, by the way, is SO MANY yoga poses.
Here are some of our favorite poses to do with kindergarten aged kids:
- Downward Dog
- Baby Cobra
- Baby Shark (locust pose)
- Crocodile (nakrasana)
- Frog (yogi squat)
- Up Dog
- Half Monkey
- Horse (goddess pose)
- Warrior 2
- Peacock (seated wide legged forward fold)
For an extra-specific to kindergarten set of yoga poses, check out these ABC kids yoga pose cards. Each letter has an animal picture and a correlating yoga pose. It’s so much fun!
ABC Kids Yoga Pose Cards$9.00
For full sized images of over 100 yoga poses that you can try with kids, check out the full set of printable kids yoga cards here.
What yoga games can you play with kids in a kindergarten class?
Kids of all ages love to play games, and there is no reason you can’t include them in a yoga class for kindergarten. Many “normal” games can be turned into yoga games with just a change of the title, names, or actions that you include.
Here are some fun games to play with kids in a kindergarten yoga class:
- Yogi Says: Just like “Simon says” but use the word “yogi” or your name. Include lots of movement but also lots of yoga poses. Check out this list here for suggestions!
- Night at the Museum: This is a fun challenge for kids. Pretend to be a statue, but come to life when the guard isn’t looking! Best done in a circle, the statues change from poses to pose while the “guard” moves around the middle of the group. If you are seen moving, you get out!
- Yoga Jenga: Get a set of Jenga (a fun balancing tower game) and write or tape yoga poses to each block. Each time you pull a block out, you do the pose! Great for mindfulness and coordination as well.
- Musical Mats: Place a kids yoga card on each student’s mat in a circle. Start some music and move around the circle. When the music stops, you freeze on that mat and do the new pose! You can make it an elimination game, too.
Check out these other posts with more yoga game ideas for kids!
- How to Play Engagingly Creative Yoga Games with your Kids or Students
- Group Kids “Yoga” Games With a Ball
- The Best Yoga Games for an Amazing Summer Camp
- Yoga Games for Kids: Active Kids Yoga Group Games
Hopefully you enjoyed this resource for teaching yoga to kindergarteners and kiddos ages 4-6. Yoga is a wonderful tool for kids learning, physical development, and emotional awareness.
Learn more about how to teach kids yoga and what to do when behavior challenges arrive by checking out the Ultimate Kids Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Training course here!