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October 9, 2014

Yoga In The Classroom

Yoga is a great activity to integrate into your students’ classroom experience. There is more to implementing yoga in a classroom than simply standing up front and striking a pose. Many teachers attempt yoga once, decide it’s “not for the kids in their room”, put the yoga guide away and never take a second glance at it again. As a teacher in a toddler room, I struggled with implementing yoga. It took me time to figure out that doing yoga in an early childhood setting is not impossible, it’s all about the way you present it!Blog1

My first attempt at yoga in my classroom failed horribly. I turned on the soothing calming music, sang my transition song to let my children know I was heading to a carpet, and began “yoga.” The word yoga meant absolutely nothing to my toddlers. They sat looking at me with wonder in their eyes for approximately two minutes and then meandered around the room to continue their day. My next action as a teacher was to figure out how to make this work. At this point I sat back and thought “my kids will be interested in yoga if I can find a way to make it interesting.” Most times when students are not performing an activity the way it is intended, it is the way that the activity is presented that is the problem, not the children.

Blog2Yoga then became a game in my classroom. I found a yoga song that I could be really silly and goofy with in order to introduce yoga poses in an appealing way. Instantly my children were much more interested. The goofier and more animated I became, the more they participated. I played this song again, again, and again in the classroom. It became one of their favorite activities and they asked for “yoga” throughout the day. Eventually I was able to say “Let’s go do yoga” and we began to do yoga in different ways. We could do the fun silly dance, and then slow it down with the calm poses while we sang songs.Blog3

The real trick is to associate the word yoga with something fun and exciting. After a couple of months of using yoga consistently in the classroom I was able to implement an all-day yoga box. I cut out pictures of the poses we had been learning and put them in a decorated shoe box. Children could pull out different pictures of the yoga poses and do them throughout the day as they pleased.

Blog4I began to see the benefits of yoga (increased flexibility, coordination, balance, strength, and body-awareness) and as their attention spans increased, they were able to perform difficult gross motor tasks such as stand on one foot. Eventually yoga was used as a way to calm down and relax.

As a teacher it is important to remember that activities like this take time. If you’ re struggling with yoga, don’t give up! The more consistent you are with it, the more likely they are to participate! With enough encouragement your students will begin to love yoga too.Blog5


Contributed by Toni LaMantia, Education Specialist