For many, teaching preschool children (walking to around 5 years old) is difficult because the kids can have a short attention span, but I find this age group so cute and enthusiastic, it is one of my favorite classes to teach.  Enjoy these tips for teaching yoga to preschool and you just may find yourself wrapped up in the best group hug you’ve ever had at the end of a yoga class.

Preschool Children Doing Yoga

Preschool Children Doing Yoga

Yoga For Preschool Children

Adults have been walking so long we forget that just standing is a balancing pose.  So yoga with preschool kids means thinking like a preschooler.

Preschool children usually range from toddlers up to 5 or 6 years old.  Here’s a quick overview of  the many changes that happen during these years, in case you don’t remember from when you were a kid:

  • At 12 months kids are usually standing on their own and taking their first wobbly steps, they’re only speaking a few word;
  • at 18 months the kids are toddlers, meaning they walk well, starting to go upstairs or walk backwards, their vocabulary is around 15 words;
  • 2 years – identifying body parts, putting words together, singing, jumping;
  • 2 – 3 yrs – can follow 2 step instructions, throw overhand, jump, run, and potty train
  • 3 – 4 yrs – speaking short sentences, walk backwards, sideways, balance on one foot for a few seconds, pedal a tricycle, use a fork/spoon and hold a pencil correctly.
  • 5 – 6 yrs – now we can start introducing complex poses!

Choosing Yoga Poses for Preschool Kids

When it comes to yoga, the poses must fit the child’s stage of development.  When choosing poses ask yourself:

  • How many steps does it take to get into this pose?
  • How much co-ordination/balance does it take?
  • Do the kids know the body part I am naming?
  • How much abdominal strength does this pose take?  I’ve found younger children have more flexibility, especially in forward bends, but less ab muscles for things like rocking on your back.

Yoga Poses:  The Good, The Bad, and the Awkward…

Here are three of my favorite yoga poses for preschoolers.  Even at 18 months they just copy these:

  1. downward dog
  2. cobra
  3. squats

Here are three poses that seem like they should be easy to do – but for younger kids they can get awkward:

  1. tree – notice (above) that balancing on one foot doesn’t happen till 3 – 4 yrs old,
  2. cat pose – when kids see this one they often go into downward dog – they need help to understand that they keep their knees on the floor,
  3. pigeon – any three or four step poses will probably require individual attention.

If you’re teaching yoga in your living room or a small class, you’ve got the time and attention to get awkward and work it out.  If a child isn’t doing a pose they may not be at that stage of development yet.   Be sure to realize it’s your problem and not theirs.

If you’re teaching a large class (15 – 20 children) in a thirty minute daycare setting, you’re going to adjust your lesson plan according to the complexity of the poses you have chosen.  The more complex the poses, the more time they will take to teach.

What are your favorite preschool yoga poses?

Have you ever done a pose the kids just couldn’t figure out?

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  1. Shalise – I’ve never brought bubbles into class – but now I want to give it a try. I could see how much fun it would be for a game at the end to blow and pop them.

    Donna – the partner parent child yoga is so much fun and great bonding time.

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

  2. i share yoga with daycare centers and charter schools. I also instruct family yoga and love every moment of it. Working with the kids is yoga and requires balance and stability.
    My students know how we begin and end each class. They love to have a new pose or game. Bubbles are a treat for anything and make them feel better when a pose challenges their confidence. I have been with 1 group of kids for 1year and we have learned alot. The older students show the younger students the poses which makes it easier for them to pick up. One of our favorite poses is frog, even if they can not hop yet the love the sound and bounce as best they can. Awesome

    Yoga games are jewels~~ Shalise

  3. I find pre-school children love partner poses. Many pre-school classes I teach are parent/child classes for this reason. They love to crawl under Mom while she does downward facing dog, or to make two scoops of ice cream with Dad in child’s pose on the bottom and the child repeating the pose on top.

    A theme that works well with this age is shapes. Starting with the hands make circles, triangles, rectangles, diamonds. Then move into poses to make shapes. Sitting cross legged, circle the body one way, then the opposite way. Cobbler’s pose makes a diamond with the legs. Triangle pose is a little easier than warrior and of course makes triangles. etc, etc. There are lots of shapes made from yoga poses, so play and explore.


  4. great post aruna! i find that the warriors can get a little iffy in regards to bending the knee. little ones and older kids seem to have trouble setting the whole thing up from feet stance to knee bend to arms, etc. i dont worry over it much, the straight leg warriors are ok and they usually like triangle so it leads into that.

    i think im going to order that book, what a great resource!

    • Thanks Clare. I’ve found that too with the Warrior poses. Preschool kids will put the opposite arm forward and I’ve seen the straight leg many times too! It probably needs muscle building to hold it with bent leg.

      thanks for the comments – It will help new teachers know what to expect.