Yoga Games for Childrenby Nina Makofsky
Forget those pristine yoga studios with library-like quiet. Yoga games for children encourage interaction and sometimes provoke laughter. Use yoga breathing activities to promote relaxation, and poses to build children's gross motor skills. Moving through a variety of poses can also target children's major muscle groups, helping them build strength and endurance. Educators sometimes integrate yoga into the classroom to stimulate kinesthetic learners and provide invigorating transitions between lessons.
Invest in a deck of yoga pose flash cards. Show an image and have your children copy it. Create games with the flashcards, such as having the children pick any pose while you choose the appropriate flash card that illustrates their poses. Try placing two or three flash cards in a row and have children brainstorm ways to fluidly move between the poses. Remind them to inhale and exhale while doing the poses, as they sometimes try to hold their breath during a difficult stretch.
Many yoga teachers use animal imagery when demonstrating poses for children. Indeed, several poses use animal names, such as down dog, cat and cobra. Build on this relationship by singing the song "Old MacDonald." When it comes times to name an animal on the farm, have a child name the animal. Demonstrate the established yoga posture for the named animal. If an animal lacks an established posture, you can either choose a posture that emulates it or have the children invent a new posture of their own to characterize the animal.
This kids' yoga activity encourages creative thinking and physical challenge. After having your children warm up with breathing and basic stretching, model a yoga pose for them to emulate. Then ask them to show you what the opposite of that yoga pose would look like. You're not looking for a right or wrong response; just a fun exploration of different ways of holding and moving your body. If children have trouble embodying the idea of "opposite," you can demonstrate flipping a pose upside down, wiggling instead of holding still or holding your limbs at opposing angles.
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