Summer time is holiday time, but at Young Yoga Masters, school is open and learning abounds. We just finished a Summer Certification. For many of the teachers in the training, their classrooms were empty and they were sitting on the other side of the desk or mat for a change. They were getting their Certificate to be a kids yoga teacher.
The 10 days were packed full of information, fun, and new friends. It was a pleasure to meet everyone there and see them grow as kids yoga teachers!
Back to school may be weeks or days away, or maybe you are still in school, here’s a powerful yoga lesson plan for you. It’s one of my favorite stories for back to school, a Zen story, about what it means to learn. It’s The Story of the Empty Cup.
The Story of the Empty Cup for Back to School Yoga
Once a student of Zen went to learn from the Master. When he arrived, he waited at the doorway until the Master invited him in. The student was so excited and wanted to impress the Master so much, he began talking on and on while the Master calmly began making tea. The student explained all the courses he had taken and all the insight he had already gained. The student talked and talked while the Master boiled water, laid out the cups, and set the tea to steep.
As the Master took his seat, the student continued to ramble on. The Master picked up the tea pot and began pouring tea into the student’s cup. The tea filled the cup. The Master kept pouring. The tea spilled over the rim. The student finally stopped talking and stared in amazement.
As the tea flowed from cup to saucer, the student called out, “Stop pouring, the cup is full, it can’t hold any more!”
The Master stopped and softly said, “If you have come to learn, you must come with an empty cup. Nothing more will fit in a cup that is full. To learn, you must empty your cup.”
The Empty Cup Kids Yoga Lesson Plan
The first part of The Empty Cup Kids Yoga Lesson Plan is to tell the story (above) and then discuss it with the kids. Depending on the age of the children and their depth of understanding this could take 10 – 15 minutes.
Some questions for consideration:
- What is the moral/lesson of the story?
- Why did the Master let the tea overflow in the cup?
- Have you ever had someone ask you a question then not listen to the answer? Have you ever done this to someone else? How did that feel?
- What does it look like when someone is ready to learn?
Kids Yoga Lesson Plan for the Empty Cup Story
If you’ve worked with children, you know that often when you finish a story the kids will implore you tell it again.
In this lesson plan you can tell the story again with even more yoga poses than in the picture above. The image her has 6 poses, but I can think of 12 poses that could extend the story. If you have another idea, please add it in the comments.
- Student goes to the Master (4 yoga poses): by Train (train arms), Bicycle (bicycle legs), boat (boat pose on belly), and walking up a mountain (high stepping)
- The Master’s home (2 poses): Entering the doorway (Downward Dog), takes a seat (chair pose)
- Master Makes Tea (4 poses): Getting water (standing forward bend to reach water from the well), adding tea (crescent moon to reach for tea on shelf – both sides), fill tea pot (bow pose), lays out cups (V pose/full boat pose)
- Pours the Tea (1 pose): Teapot (Triangle Pose – on each side)
- Empty the Cup (1 pose): Easy Pose or Savasana
Watch Our Lead Trainer Teach the Lesson Plan
You can watch the replay of how Trainer, Aruna, taught this Lesson Plan during our monthly live Kids Yoga Teacher Check-In here:
Through Kids Yoga Poses and Stories – Kids Get Ready to Learn
Through story, kids learn by moving and you also create a vocabulary with your class, it’s like a special language between you. When the kids are full of ideas, you can say, “Now its time to empty the cup” and they’ll know exactly what you mean. If they don’t, well, you can just tell the story again till they remember it.
Got an Empty Cup?
Kids Yoga Teacher Training
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- Yoga Literacy with the Yoga Alphabet (16 Hour Certificate)
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- Mindfulness for Children (16 Hour Certificate)
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