Over the past few years more and more schools are offering yoga and mindfulness as part of the curriculum. This is in part due to the increase in research supporting the benefits of yoga and mindfulness including improvements in attention span, focus, ability to deal with stress, creativity, confidence and self management, to name a few. When offering school based yoga programs it is important to recognize that schools have a unique culture which is vastly different from yoga studios, recreational centres, private lesson or community classes.
These do’s and don’ts come from 14 years experience working in the Alberta, Canada education system. They are a guide on how to offer yoga in an available, approachable manner to improve the overall health, wellness and learning readiness of the next generation.
Above all support the programs you offer to schools with follow up and additional support for administrators and teachers. We can change the world one moment, one breath, one child at a time with regular practice, open communication and relationship building.
For more information on how to effectively and appropriately teach yoga in schools to kids and teens please join a Yoga In My School weekend workshop.
Don’t Be Too ‘New Agey’
Keep your words and approach grounded and real. Offer straight up yoga and mindfulness skills without fluff, illusions, artistic interpretation. For example with Sun Salutations don’t say, “Reaching tall to the sun embrace it’s loving radiance and hold in within your heart.” Save the poetic cueing for the yoga studio.
Don’t Teach Whatever You Want
Always co-ordinate with the classroom teacher as to their goals for the class. Every school period has specific educational outcomes. Teach within these parameters.
Don’t Be Surprised by the Religion Issue
Have alternative ways to offer yoga and mindfulness that will appeal to all participants. This may mean reframing and rephrasing the experience into ‘mindful movement’ or ‘stretch & relax’ sessions and avoiding trigger words such as ‘Om’. Always offer a non-dogmatic approach being open and welcoming of all traditions.
Don’t Use Sanskrit Terms or Chants
Yes, we in the yoga world love our Sanskrit but to many these terms can be foreign and scary. Use English. Save Sanskrit and chanting for studio classes or high school Yoga 15, 25, 35 classes.
Don’t Wear Revealing Clothing
Keep things ‘G’ rated. Check your clothing in the mirror before you leave the house. Too much cleavage? Too tight? Too revealing? Is it appropriate for a 6 year old or a hormone riddled teen? Ask yourself what would a PE teacher wear?
Do Know the Curriculum
The Alberta Program of Studies is available online. Do your research and know what needs to be taught for each grade level. When teaching Grade 3 students its wonderful to explore bhramari breathing knowing that it supports the Grade 3 Science curriculum regarding learning about sound.
Do Know the Language
Knowledge of the language of education is essential in order to express how yoga and mindfulness can address the challenges faced in today’s classroom. Know what it means to be coded, what is RTI (Response to Intervention), an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and other terms common to education.
Do Use Child Friendly Terms
Your teaching style and language will change depending on the age of the students. Use terms appropriate for the age, abilities, understanding and maturity of the kids in your class. For example be very concrete when working with younger students, ask them “Please sit down criss cross, eyes on me.”
Do Include Relaxation and Mindfulness
Kids today are over programmed, over scheduled and over stimulated. They are in desperate need of relaxation tools and mindfulness practices to invite peace and calm into their lives. Give them this gift. Movement is a form of meditation. So is stillness.
Do Link to Kids Lives
Include stories, games and activities linking yoga asana, pranayama and relaxation to kids’ interests and life. Many poses are named after animals and pranayama can be tailored for specific needs such as finding calm, before bed, or test prep.
NEW Teen Yoga Resource HOT OFF THE PRESS
Faced with a room full of hormonal teens on yoga mats: what do you do? how do you connect? How do you get them engaged?
Teaching teens is unlike instructing any other age group. They’re not kid and not yet adults. They still like to play but don’t want to be treated like children. They crave approval but will give you tons of attitude just to keep things interesting and establish their independence.
This manual walks you through how to teach teen yoga. It provides wise, practical and time-tested tips, tools and techniques that help teens manage stress and develop physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. These methods can be implemented immediately with adolescents as well as in your own life.
- Benefits of yoga & mindfulness for teens
- Authentic teen teaching
- Differences between early and late teens
- Adolescent neuroscience
- Mindfulness techniques for teens
- Yoga Nidra
- Yoga for balancing hormones/endocrine system
- Yoga for teen athletes
- Building community
- Yoga for at-risk youth
- Body image & self-esteem
- How to teach yoga philosophy to teens
- Meditation for teens
- Ayurveda for teens
Learn more about how to teach teens yoga with our Teen Yoga Online Teacher Training Course or the Teaching Teens Yoga weekend intensive.
Teaching Teens Yoga
This manual walks you through how to teach teen yoga. It provides wise, practical and time-tested tips, tools and techniques that help teens manage stress and develop physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. These methods can be implemented immediately with adolescents as well as in your own life. 57 pg full color PDF.
Here are the 4 webinars included in the Yoga for Children with Special Needs Online Training. You have one month to view them as many times as you’d like. We highly encourage you to print/save the accompanying HANDOUTS. You’ll also find access to the YIMS Yoga for Children with Special Needs Manual via digital download and some suggestions on getting the most out of your YIMS Teacher’s Lounge All Access Pass.
We highly encourage you to use the SEARCH function to access the numerous resources regarding yoga for children with special needs. Topics you’ll want to search include but aren’t limited to:
Here is a sampling of some of the many resources on teaching yoga to children with special needs.
Each month new content is added to your extensive library of resources. If you have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to receive a Yoga for Special Needs Online Certificate? Includes a 30 minute SKYPE discussion/Q&A with Donna Freeman to solidfy your knowledge plus a homework assignment.
Yoga for Children w Special Needs Certificate
Receive a certificate of completion for the Yoga for Children w Special Needs online course. Includes a 30 minute one-on-one with Donna Freeman plus a homework assignment to solidify your knowledge. Ideal for teachers and other professionals wanting proof for CEUs.
Over the past couple of years I’ve received great feedback regarding the YIMS Yoga for Special Needs course and manual. For those attending the workshop there was lots of time for hands-on experience and interaction to explain the various activities and expand on the notes in the manual. However many who bought the manual online asked for more.
We’re please to announce that we have expanded and revised the YIMS Yoga for Special Needs Manual and it is now available for purchase online as an environmentally friendly PDF download.
The new version includes everything from before:
- 7 Tips to Teaching Yoga to Children w Special Needs
- the Most Powerful Message and Most Powerful Tool at your disposal
- suggested breathing toys and props
- core musculature discussion and tips to improve
- 4 B’s of Self Calming
- description of Autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and FASD
- techniques for working with each diagnosis
- classroom management tips
- research supporting effect of yoga for children with special needs
Plus so much MORE:
- more breathing exercises & games with full descriptions
- specific poses to develop core musculature
- affirmation worksheet
- sample guided visualization
- all new meditation section
- extensive yoga techniques for sensory processing
- safe variations of yoga poses with instructions
- Kundalini Kriyas
- fun & engaging yoga games
- links to videos, interviews and more
- our recommended resources including books, flashcards and webinars
Every page is packed with yoga and mindfulness techniques to use as complementary therapy when working with differently abled children .
Yoga for Children with Special Needs Manual
Discover how to effectively use yoga based techniques as a complementary therapy for children with special needs. Understand the needs and challenges and explore creative, fun ways of engaging and supporting children with special needs in the practice of yoga. Covers specifics for Autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy and FASD. 51 full color pg PDF.
This is one of four modules to earning your RCYT designation. When held at Prana Yoga count toward 500-RYT with Prana Yoga.
Learn how to teach the youngest yogis as well as those with emotional and mental challenges techniques to control impulsivity and self-regulate.
After attending this workshop you’ll know how to:
- use music effectively in kids yoga classes
- integrate early literacy skills into your yoga classes
- adapt yoga poses to meet students needs and abilities
- effectively use yoga as a complementary therapy for children with special needs.
This experiential workshop will provide a foundation to promote the healthy development of the hearts, minds and bodies preschoolers as well as individuals diagnosed with:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Down syndrome
- Mild Cerebral palsy
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Understand the needs and challenges and explore creative, fun ways of engaging and supporting children with special needs in the practice of yoga.
Join us for a weekend workshop
COST: $395.00 CD + GST
September 9-10, Centered on Centre Ave
September 22-24, Prana Yoga Studio, Edmonton
What participants are saying about this Workshop:
“I enjoyed my two days with Donna. I can use many of the yoga poses/games in my class on Monday morning.” – Susan Woelber
“You have inspired me. This course material has helped me better understand the reasons of using yoga with the children I work with and my own practice.” – Carla Brown