You may already know that yoga boosts physical and mental well-being for adults and kids.
In fact, yoga for kids offers many physical benefits, like increasing strength and flexibility, refining balance and coordination, and improving overall body awareness.
Practicing yoga at an early age also improves memory skills, focus and concentration. In addition, children learn the importance of mindfulness and being present in the moment.
Some studies have even shown that teaching or incorporating yoga in school activities helps regulate emotions, and reduce tension and anxiety. Practicing yoga in school allows kids to focus on having fun with movement rather than perfecting poses. Yoga poses can be introduced in the classroom or fun yoga games and activities can be incorporated into playtime or recess.
Yoga Activities for Toddlers
Yoga poses for toddlers can imitate animals or nature – and can be freely interpreted.
Teaching ‘make-believe’ poses to toddlers can be simple and fun. You can start by standing in Mountain Pose, with your hands to your sides or stretched overhead in Upward Salute. From here, try getting down on all fours with your back arched to do a cat pose, then balance on one leg for tree pose. Get creative and try to mimic other animals poses and things found in nature!
Sit with kids on the floor in butterfly pose, with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent out to the sides. Imagine flying around like butterflies. Flap your wings or your bent knees slowly at first while starting to take flight, and then gradually speed up. Take pauses in-between to land on flowers, and the repeat.
Yoga Games for Preschoolers
This is a yoga twist on the game Simon Says where one player or an instructor is the designated Yogi, and the others are players. The Yogi stands in front of the group and tells the others what yoga pose to do. The players must only obey commands that begin with “Yogi says”, otherwise they are out for the round. The Yogi can act out poses unfamiliar to kids for them to copy and get used to.
Integrate storytime with yoga by acting out characters or elements of a story with kids. For example, you can act out traveling to a certain place where you can then imitate animals and other things found in the environment like trees, rivers, or rocks. You can stand tall like towers and buildings or stretch like bridges. You can act out actions like baking or chopping wood, or copy the shapes of snacks and other food items with your bodies. At the end of the story, you can all rest in child’s pose.
Yoga Poses for 2 Kids
Have the kids sit facing each other with their legs spread apart and feet touching. Have them hold hands in the middle and seesaw by slowly moving back and forth.
Lounge chair pose
Start with having the kids sit back-to-back with their legs stretched to the front. One child then bends forward, reaching for their toes, while the other child gently leans back on their bent partner’s back. Have them hold the kids yoga pose for a few breaths, and have them switch positions after that.
Kids start out facing their partners, with hands stretched up and palms meeting in the middle. The objective is to slowly move away from your partner by stepping back but keeping your hands together in the middle. Once pairs have moved as far as they can from each other, have them slowly step forward to meet their partner in the middle again.
The children stand next to each other. They can lock elbows and then slowly lift their outer foot into a tree pose position, with their foot pressed against their other leg and the knee out to the side. Hold for a few breaths, and then switch arms and legs.
Movement Games for Kids
Have kids stand in a circle while an instructor acts as the watchman. While the watchman faces away from the group, the kids are free to move around the circle but have to freeze like a statue, preferably in a yoga pose, when the watchman turns to face them. Kids caught moving or unable to pose in time will be asked to sit down in the circle. Players who have been out can be invited to try again after a minute or two of sitting out.
Strike a pose
Music plays and kids dance around the room. When the music stops, the instructor calls out an instruction or a yoga pose for kids to follow like “show me a pose of an animal with four legs”, or “show me a pose of an animal with wings.” The instructor then plays the music again and calls out different poses or cues each time.
Fun, Active Group Games
This game is similar to musical chairs, but with yoga mats instead. Mats are arranged in a circle and kids dance around the mats as music is played. When the music stops, kids must sit on a yoga mat. Whoever is standing at the end of the round will be out. Remove a yoga mat and continue playing until only one player is left.
Red light, green light yoga
Choose someone to be the main Yogi, and all other players line up on the other side of the room or space. The Yogi faces the group and calls out “green light” and then turns away from the other kids. While facing away, the others are free to move closer to the Yogi. The Yogi then calls out ‘red light’ and a children’s yoga pose. Everyone needs to stop and be in that yoga pose while the Yogi turns to face the group. Whoever is not doing the pose or is caught moving has to go back to the starting line. The player who lightly taps the Yogi on the shoulder first is the winner for the round and will become the next Yogi.
Are You Ready to Play Yoga Games for Kids?
The best thing? Yoga can be done at any time even through simple breathing exercises for kids. And, while these games are a great way to introduce yoga to kids, you can learn even more by becoming a children’s yoga instructor! This way you can have fun with kids and start a great new side hustle or career! Are you ready to give it a go?
About Kat: Guest writer Kat Sarmiento is a molecular biology scientist turned growth marketing scientist. During her free time, she loves to write articles that will bring delight, empower women, and spark the business mind. She loves to bake but unfortunately, baking doesn’t love her back. She has many things in her arsenal and writing is one of her passion projects.