At Young Yoga Masters, we’re heading into a weekend of Inclusive Yoga Kids Yoga Teacher training and we’re preparing interesting supplies like bubbles, stickers and foam noodles. Whenever I see these fun props gathered in front of me, I’m reminded of the many ways we can engage children by planning activities and creating lesson plans all kids will enjoy.
In the upcoming course, we’re going to create Case Studies of hypothetical children that may come to your kids yoga classes and how to address their special needs. Here are three tips from our training that could make your classes a little more inclusive so everyone gets to play at yoga!
If you’d like to get formal training – please follow the link here and check out our early bird savings for the upcoming courses in Toronto, Burlington (Canada), and New Orleans (USA).
Not Disability – Different Abilities
In a practicum class in our Training, a girl with Cerebral Palsy attended. She used a walker/seat to support her in all physical activities. Standing up and sitting down on the floor took her longer, tired her out, and made it hard for her to keep up with the rest of the class. As often happens we didn’t know she was going to be in the class till we got to our first of 6 classes so after we met her we began to brainstorm ways to make sure she felt included. Here’s one example.
We typically play a mindfulness listening game using a variety of bells with the kids sitting on the floor, closing their eyes and listening to identify which bell is being rung. For this activity our first thought was to put out a chair so our friend could sit in a chair while we played.
But as we thought it through we could see how she would still feel separated from the group this way – she would be the only one sitting in the chair. There was no reason this activity had to take place on the yoga mats.
So we changed our plan to move the whole activity to a table and had everyone sitting in chairs.
The activity was set up before everyone arrived and it ran smoothly, not one child ever thought that a special allowance had been made because the game was equally fun with everyone sitting in chairs.
This is just one way that you can plan your lesson for a particular child with a walker or chair, and keep it fun by moving everyone into chairs.
You can see how activities are equally fun no matter how you play them in this video:
Routines within the Yoga Class
Routines: Helpful for All, Essential for Some
When I talk about setting up routines in a yoga class, I liken it to a TV show with opening credits. For me as a kid, it remember watching the Brady Bunch till the very last note of the closing song was sung. I remember how much those opening and closing songs helped me emotionally process that my favourite show was starting, then finishing. The routine helped!
Routines within a class are helpful for all and essential for some. They reduce stress because they provide predictability and reassurance throughout your yoga time. You will likely find that adding routine will help your classes run smoother. Here are a few place routines can be used:
- an opening song (see the Hello Song I use in my preschool classes below)
- routinely doing 3 yoga breaths during or after a pose
- having a closing transition or song
Don’t forget that for routines to work they should be the same every class!
What routines do you without fail in every class?
Representative Yoga – with Props that Are Inclusive
One of the things that prompted me to create Yoga Man vs. The Stressor in 2009 was that it was hard to find kids yoga materials and resources that would appeal to older boys. There were plenty of animal activities, fairies, and happy endings. But where were the action heroes that my male students wanted to see?
When I developed the Frog Yoga Alphabet, I chose frogs to do the poses rather than children so that everyone could relate to the images.
And the strategic use of props can get more children engaged, like the way bubbles help everyone figure out yoga breathing.
Fortunately there are many more inclusive and representative images and resources available now. I wish I could find a way to update the Yoga for Boys video to include more boys, not just my nephews, or source images of children wearing a head covering doing yoga! Inadvertently groups can get overlooked and it is time to think about whether everyone is feeling represented in the images we use in yoga class.
Here’s our yoga for boys video that needs an update, the boys in this video are young men now:
Yoga Man does the sun salutation on colouring pages so new teachers have images kids can colour in the way they like. If you find that many of the boys are not engaged in your yoga classes, I recommend learning more about Boy Culture from this article.
What are Your Favourite Strategies to Create an Inclusive Yoga Lesson Plan?
These are just a few of the many ways you can create an Inclusive Yoga Lesson plan. To go over them all we would need a whole weekend!
What do you do to accommodate all children in your classes? Are there any tips or routines you can add in the comments that will help more students say YES to yoga?
Thanks for sharing.
Young Yoga Masters.com
Upcoming Kids Yoga Teacher Training
Inclusive Yoga -Toronto Ontario: Feb. 25-26/17
A few spots are still available if you want to learn more about teaching yoga to children of varying abilities, the next kids yoga teacher training module is Inclusive Yoga and it focuses on yoga for kids with special needs. In addition to poses and music, we present techniques and tools like visual schedules, games like the yoga obstacle course, and activities that teach kids about stress and how to self-regulate just like a super hero.
The Inclusive Yoga Certificate is offered in Toronto the weekend of February 25-26, 2017 and also in the Summer Certification courses in New Orleans, USA (June 19-29) and Burlington, Ontario, Canada (July 23 – Aug. 4, 2017).
For more detail visit the Inclusive Yoga Certificate.
Summer Certification 2017!
Looking for fun activities to for your kids yoga teacher toolkit or to get your 95 Hour Certificate with a Yoga Alliance Registered Children’s Yoga School?
Consider joining Aruna and the other trainers this Summer where you can get your full Certification in under 2 weeks and have a ton of fun doing it!
Summer Certification 2017
- June 19 – 29, 2017: 10 Day Modified Fast Track Certification New Orleans, LA, USA
See full details here. Register at Wild Lotus Yoga
- July 23 – Aug. 4, 2017: 12 Day Summer Certification Burlington, ON, Canada
See full details here. Register at Young Yoga Masters
Get the best rate we offer on the 95 Hour Certificate with Super-Early Registration until April 15/17. This very special training offers you practical hands-on experience and tons of resources to start teaching kids yoga right away.
Mark your calendar and plan to join us for a Certification to remember!
If you have any questions contact: email@example.com