As yogis, we know asana and meditation can help us feel powerfully grounded and embodied, which in turn shapes how we show up in the world. These practices are important for everyone—and they are particularly crucial for kids, who are discovering who they will become on a daily basis. I often wish I had yoga in my life when I was a child; I believe it would’ve helped me show up more fully and express myself more authentically. That’s why I founded Yoga Foster, a nonprofit that empowers elementary school teachers with yoga tools and curricula for their classrooms. All too often, children—particularly those of color—aren’t always seen, heard, or respected by their parents and teachers, and they aren’t taught the skills to help them change that. Yoga can help kids take ownership of their bodies, transform how they think of themselves, and ultimately help them speak up for what they need.
The following sequence is based on a Yoga Foster lesson about courage and bravery. To keep kids engaged, I like to change the names of some of the postures. For example, Dandayamna Bharmanasana (Balancing Table Pose) can sound confusing and even intimidating, so I call it Tiger Pose. My advice when practicing with children is to be playful. In addition to changing asana names, I weave in fun cues like, “Let out a tiger roar,” to bring the poses to life. And don’t be hyper focused on form. When kids do Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), for example, it’s going to look different from yours. Just be sure they’re staying safe.
Finally, remember that no matter how much fun you make it, practicing with children requires patience and dedication. Don’t think of this as your practice, but rather an opportunity to spend time with kids. That being said, stay open to what you can learn from them. In my experience, kids bring a joy and curiosity to yoga that inspires the same in my own practice.
See also 3 Ways to Get Kids Stoked About Yoga
About Our Pro
Model and teacher Nicole Cardoza is the founder of Yoga Foster, a national nonprofit that empowers educators with yoga tools for the classroom. Community engagement makes their practice possible. Learn how you can support them at yogafoster.org.