Kids Yoga Animal Poses

Camel Pose: One hump or two?

One yoga teacher in the kids yoga teacher training course asked me a question that every new teacher must ask when doing kids yoga:

How do we do kids yoga animal poses?

Yoga animal poses are part of the basic tools for teaching kids. You’ll find them in many kids yoga books like:

The Yoga Zoo Adventure for Little Kids by Helen Purperhart

Fly Like A Butterfly: Yoga for Children by Shakta Kaur Khalsa (I’ve bought this book twice, my first one I used so much it fell apart!)

Plus many other great books and videos. There are also some great blog posts on Yoga Animals here at:

Stuffed Animals for Yoga Class Help Kids Focus from the Yoga in My School blog

Here are some scary animals like bats and Spiders in this post: Halloween Yoga for Kids from the Childlight Yoga blog.

I have to admit I haven’t included a yoga animal story in my teacher training curriculum. Yoga animals are part of other themes like in the Story of the Lion Cub who Was Raised by Goats – we do lions and even a goat pose! But in my desire to do a kids yoga training that was more than just pretending to be poses, I figured this was already available.

Yet this question helped me realize that animals and yoga go together so naturally, it is a fundamental of kids yoga. So I’m going to cover it here and include this blog post in my teacher training manual. I’m grateful for people’s questions and feedback because they also show me what can be added to improve my training course.

Here are my current top ten favorite yoga animal poses:

  1. Camel Ride - a basic warm-up in Kundalini Yoga, sit in easy pose, hold your ankles, inhale lift your spine forward and up, exhale and relax your spine back – as if you were riding on a camel.
  2. Elephant taking a Shower: stand up and make a trunk with your arms, keep your legs straight and dip your trunk into the imaginary watering hole in front of you, then lift your trunk up and spray the water like a shower.
  3. Frog: squat and stretch your legs like a frog warming up and then jump!
  4. Cobra Pose
  5. Downward Dog
  6. Butterfly Drinking Nectar: sitting, put your feet together and knees bent wide apart. Flutter your legs up and down like a butterfly. Then move your chest to your feet and drink the nectar from a flower in front of you.
  7. Cheetah: move quickly on all fours like a cheetah running across the land
  8. Camel Pose: See the picture above.
  9. Unicorn: Make your hands into a magical unicorn horn over the centre of your head then gallop.
  10. Donkey Kicks

Start an animal yoga class by saying, “Put your hand up if you like animals.” You’ll get so many hands you may have to limit comments from the kids, but you’ll quickly find out animals they like to do. You can also suggest that there are those who feel some of the yoga poses came from watching how animals stretch. Then ask them if they want to do some animal yoga. I’ve never had young kids say no, although the older kids (10 – 12 yrs) may lose interest in this.

Then you’ll be off to the races, or should I say the Zoo, going through all the poses, plus the ones the kids make up.

What are your favorite Animal Yoga Poses and Games to teach or do?

Comments

  1. Some styles of yoga, such as power yoga, are more vigorous than others. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone.
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  2. Sat Nam Santohk,

    Fantastic work. What a great website and resource, I have thoroughly enjoyed the articles, advice, and personal stories and I’ll definately be re-visiting frequently.

  3. Teaching Kids Yoga says:

    Thanks for your ideas – so many great ways to do animal yoga! It really is a fundamental of kids yoga.

  4. thepranamama says:

    One of my daughter's (age 4) favorite things to do with me at home is to play the Yoga Garden Game. There is one part of the game where the player gets to make up a pose of their own and the other players guess what it is. My daughter, and many of my past students, would LOVE to make up different animals and have the class guess. It's a fun way to incorporate all of the kids' favorite animals. If they say one that you know has a pose, like snake, butterfly, dog, etc. then you can have that child lead the pose. If there is no known pose, have the kid make one up. Either way, have the kids take turns and ask the class to call out the pose name, whether they already know it or are guessing for the first time. Of course, animal sounds will help for younger kids to guess the right answer.

    Another fun thing to do with all of these poses is to create a "Yogi Says" game. It is a review of poses learned, plus a listening game that requires focus to only move when the leader calls out "Yogi Says" before the pose direction. This is a game I learned from my mentor Lisa at ChildLight Yoga.

  5. I use lots of animal poses when teaching children's yoga – we go on Safari in Africa, tour through India, visit the Amazon, the Pet Store, the Zoo, and many more. Animals and kids go together beautifully. Sometimes we focus on crawling and flying creatures or look at life cycles from seeds, to plants, to rabbits & wolves.In fact I doubt I teach a class that doesn't have some type of animals in it.

  6. Nice posting. Do you know about these yoga books?

    http://www.yogavidya.com/freepdfs.html

  7. The book Dear Zoo is great to do yoga to. It has similar animal poses to the ones found in yoga.

    http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Zoo-Lift-Flap-Book/dp/0689825498

  8. YogaMaendy says:

    These are great! I am not a Yoga teacher, but I used to teach dance to 5 and 6 year old's. I would often start class by making them do Yoga poses because I found it was the best way to get them to stretch and warm up without being bored. They absolutely LOVED making the "animal shapes," and it was so cute to see them remember how to do each one, just by me calling out the name.

    One they especially liked was the Full Locust pose…except I called it "flying like superman" (or supergirl). We'd all lay down on our bellies & I'd ask the kids where they wanted to fly today. They'd shout out places like "Disney World," "Grandma's House," and sometimes even "The Moon!" So we'd count down to blast off, and on the count of three we all stretched up into locust as we "flew" to each of the destinations. It was so much fun and the kids loved it!

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