Kids Yoga Teacher Training and Certification

3 Hard-to-Teach Kids Yoga Poses

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An important part of the kids yoga teacher training is finding out what doesn’t work in kid’s yoga BEFORE you are with the kids.  You’ve got to know age-appropriate poses, how to teach them, and how to time your classes.  Too many hard-to-teach poses can lead to frustrated, injured, or tuned out kids.

“Hard” means “Time Consuming
For instance, these three poses can be hard to teach to kids.  Perhaps “hard” isn’t the best word, lengthy-to-teach may describe it better.  It doesn’t mean I don’t teach them.  It also doesn’t mean kids don’t like them.  In fact I do teach them and kids do like them – a lot!  Certain poses just require more time and energy.

I DO NOT recommend introducing all three of these poses in  one class. Here’s why:

Cat Pose turns into Downward Dog

  1. Cat/Cow Pose:  usually ends up being Downward Dog/Cow pose.  Hard-to-teach because no matter what you say, about 25% of the class doesn’t get the part about keeping your knees on the floor. By the time you’ve helped the 15th child figure out the pose, the first children have been doing the pose for a long time or have tuned out.

    Wheel Pose (variation)- also called 1/2 Wheel and Bridge

  2. Wheel: The kids who can do wheel pose love it – and ask for it!  So if kids ask for it, don’t give in right away.  Often 50% of older kids can’t do it.  Wheel pose takes a heap of arm and abdominal strength plus flexibility.  This can’t be taught in one class.  If you start off with wheel, you’ll have half the class watching on in awe, but unable to do it.  Then they feel inadequate doing an alternate pose.  Most pre-school kids can’t do wheel at all!  If kids ask for wheel, start off teaching the poses that build up to wheel, like table, bow, and camel pose.  Then offer up wheel to try at the end of class for a short time – the kid’s who can’t do wheel, after all those other poses, will be too tired to care.

    Donkey Kicks

  3. Donkey Kicks: kid’s love donkey kicks, but you’ve got to warn them about NOT FLIPPING OVER!  Sometimes kids get so excited they really go for it.  And then there’s the problem of KIDS GETTING KICKED.  With Donkey Kicks the teacher must be up and walking around – to serve and protect.

Sometimes when we’ve been doing yoga for a while we forget which poses are beginner, intermediate, and advanced.  Introduce yoga to kids with beginner poses, then sprinkle in the hard-to-teach poses.  Those poses will feel much more satisfying when there aren’t too many.

Do you have any tricks for teaching these hard-to-teach poses?

Do you find any poses hard-to-teach?

7 Comments
  1. I’ve always kept meaning to start doing yoga, and now even more so as im pregnant! I really want to be doing this with my children

  2. Thanks Aruna for telling it like it is. A real kids yoga class looks very different from anything on DVD: wide variety of ability, enthusiasm & attention. For a look a the dirty truth of kids yoga please read http://yogainmyschool.com/2010/04/12/8-dirty-truths-about-teaching-kids-yoga/

    I also take care to mix the easy with the challenging. Yoga is supposed to be a playful exploration of body and mind. Getting the balance just right requires skill, mindful preparation, and paying attention during the class itself as no two groups are the same.

  3. Thanks everyone, these are great comments. Real kids yoga is very different from what you see in the books and videos. Real kids are doing all kinds of things, like what Karin commented on about the elbows and neck! You see it especially when you’re working with a group of kids of varying abilities.

    Yoga teachers know what to look for, but a classroom teacher or parent who hasn’t taken a 200 hr training may need these tips. All these comments do help others who are just starting off.

    Often the kids just jump into showing off their favorites poses (like wheel) and then ask for the whole class to do them. The teacher has to take charge and lead a class so everyone has a fun safe experience.

    And just so you know, no children were harmed during these pictures! They all loved the attention. I wanted to show the “real” side of kids yoga – there are already so many “perfect” pictures out there.

    Thanks again to everyone for sharing your experiences. If anyone else wants to add a comment – please do.

  4. yes, i have seen that in cat stretch, the knees come up. ive started out with flat back tail wags to focus on keeping the knees down. still, it doesnt solve the problem really. i might just have them do seated cat/cow if the class really is struggling.

  5. I teach children yoga and thankfully, I have not had those problems with cat/cow or donkey kicks. I usually will teach bridge pose instead of wheel and those who want to and are able to go into wheel, usually will.

    I am a bit concerned about the alignment and safety of the girls in the poses. The hyper-extended elbows in the girl doing cat pose, but especially the girl with her head turned in that wheel variation. I hope she moves in a safe way with her neck!

  6. This is interesting. Cat/cow is often a starting place with adults. However, wheel and donkey kicks? I wouldn’t introduce these to beginners of any age.

  7. great info – even though I don’t teach kid’s yoga (Just adults), I found these tips really good to know – and actually your suggestions for the last 2 postures also apply to adults, I would say…

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