By: Madison Rogas, CEI Intern
Yoga has become a more widely used tool for educators and parents alike to help teach children self-regulation, develop body awareness, and learn to move their bodies in healthy ways. Yoga also helps decrease stress. By incorporating yoga into preschool classrooms, children have the opportunity to develop tools for a healthier life starting at the age of 3 or 4. This article provides examples of various yoga games for preschool age children that can be played at school, at home, or a community gathering. I have also included resources to help get you started.
Asana, or pose, games are great ways to get preschoolers up and moving and teaches them to be creative. When doing any type of activity with this age group, it is important to keep their attention span in mind and keep activities between 15 and 30 minutes.
Book Worm ‘“ Books about animals are a great way for children to use their imagination. Any book about animals, or really any book, can be turned into an opportunity for children to practice yoga and let their creativity flow. While reading the book, pause and ask kids to ‘strike a pose’ for whatever animal, object or character is introduced. For example, when reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, on the purple cat page you can ask the students to find cat pose. The kids can do traditional poses such as fish pose or cat pose for the animals they encounter, or they can use their imagination and create a pose they feel captures that animal. Another option for Book Worm is to have the kids moving the entire book by asking them to act out the story as you read. The key to this activity is choosing books that are easily accessible to young imaginations and keep them active.
Simon Strikes a Pose ‘“ This game is the little yogi version of Simon Says. The teacher will be the leader for this game and each instruction that Simon gives will incorporate a yoga pose or even a yogic breath, i.e. ‘Simon says do downward facing dog’ or ‘Simon says breathe like a snake’. The key idea behind Simon Says or Simon Strikes a Pose is that the students must listen carefully to the instructions because if the teacher does not say ‘Simon says’ before the instruction then you do not follow this cue, i.e. ‘Do downward facing dog’, instead students should continue doing whatever the cue prior to this one was. This game can be used to create a little yoga sequence or just a way to get the wiggles out. By sneaking in breath cues, students are also learning different breathing techniques in a fun way.
Many more games exist for teaching children about yoga and breath work. Children 3 to 5 years old love using their imagination, moving their body and learning new things. Build upon this and use your own imagination to turn traditional games, like Simon Says, into a yoga-based game. Below, are helpful resources to get you started.
Books: I love these books as they creatively weave yoga poses throughout a story and provide beautiful illustrations as guides for the little yogis.
‘¢ My Daddy is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste
‘¢ Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story by Mariam Gates
‘¢ You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga poses by Taeeun Yoo
This final book is designed for adults who wish to incorporate yoga into any child’s routine. Flynn provides detailed descriptions of poses and helpful tips for teaching yoga to various age groups.
‘¢ Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children by Lisa Flynn
Activity Decks: These card decks are great ways to introduce children to various poses and provide inspiration to the adults leading the class. I like to use these decks during yoga games as visualization tools. My favorite game to use them in is similar to Musical Chairs: place the pose cards in a large circle, put on a song, kids dance around the circle and when the music stops they must do whatever pose the card they land on says.
‘¢ Yoga Pretzels: 50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids & Grownups by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish
‘¢ Yoga for Children — Yoga Cards: 50+ Yoga Poses and Mindfulness Activities for Healthier, More Resilient Kids by Lisa Flynn
Baptiste, B. (2004). My daddy is a pretzel: Yoga for parents and kids. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Barefoot Books.
Flynn, L. (2013). Yoga for children: 200+ yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditations for
healthier, happier, more resilient children. Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media.
Gates, M. (2016). Good morning yoga: A pose-by-pose wake up story. Boulder, Colorado:
Yoo, T. (2012). You are a lion! And other fun yoga poses. New York, New York: Nancy Paulsen