Teaching yoga in school is an amazing way to offer your students a break from their academic work. Breathing exercises and yoga poses offer mental, physical, and emotional benefits that promote calm, concentration, and confidence in students. You can learn more about the benefits of yoga for children here.
When I was learning to teach yoga to kids, the Yoga Pretzels card deck was my saving grace. It provided so much inspiration for me, and gave my students a beautiful way to visualize and learn poses. Yoga pose decks typically have pictures of poses, usually very kid friendly versions. But, they also offer descriptions of the poses which is perfect for teachers who want to incorporate yoga but don't have much experience themselves. Using these cards alone, you can create a consistent and effective yoga element to your classroom!
1. Lead your class
The easiest way to use a card deck is to simply read the cards to your students and have them try the poses. This is a great way to get started to familiarize yourself and your students with them. Pick 5-10 poses to practice each day. You can organise the poses by type (sitting, standing) or by category (poses with animal names), get creative!
2. Create a morning routine
You can make yoga a part of your morning circle using a card deck. Place the card deck on the floor in the middle of the circle. Have the students take turns flipping a card and practicing the pose. The students can practice on their own or with each other. Encourage the other students to stay quiet and respectful of their classmates while you move around the circle.
3. Let your students lead
My students love to take the lead, and having a chance to be a leader is a great incentive for them to come to yoga time quietly and try their best. I pick a leader who is demonstrating this behavior and let them lead the class. They pick three cards and then read them aloud to the class as the other students practice the poses. This is a wonderful way to get your students engaged and excited about yoga!
4. Musical yoga mats
This fun game is a twist on musical chairs. I place a yoga card on each student's yoga mat, but you can also just place them around the classroom. Then, I have the students form a big circle around the mats. I play music and let them dance around in a circle. When the music stops, they calmly make their way to a card and assume the pose. I tell them that to stay in the game, they must move calmly, and practice the pose to the best of their ability.
5. Create your own
As your students discover their favorite poses, they'll become very passionate about them. Allow them each to create a yoga card of their own to make your own classroom deck! With older grades, you could even have them come up with their own descriptions as well. Another thing that's always a hit with my students is letting them make up yoga poses. When we are working on a specific unit, like outer space, I invite them to come up with their own space themed poses. Letting their creativity flow is so important and inspiring to watch. Making up new poses also allows them to get in touch with their bodies and see what feels good, challenging, and exciting.
Once you get started using yoga cards, you'll see that there are endless ways to make yoga fun. Got an idea of favorite activity? Feel free to share!