It’s so fun to bring Yoga into schools and summer camps.
There is a diversity of students, and in the summer season, there are children visiting from all over the world. Kids Yoga is such a great outlet for all of the youth in our society to develop strength, courage, and confidence in this fast-paced world.
I have found that combining fun music with partner poses fosters new friendships and bridges the gap. Often times the students may want to cling to a friend or create a clique. When we do partner poses, it is such a great opportunity for them to expand their hearts by working together with someone new. Sometimes there is resistance because a child may not want to work with a child they aren’t friends with or who they don’t know.
One of my greatest teaching experiences with this was when I was working at a summer camp in a resort town. There were local children combined with some who were just there visiting for the summer.
The local children seemed to stay with each other. There were many students who were visiting from across the country and across the world. Some seemed shy and maybe sat by themselves. I would try to break the ice and ask each child to say where they were from and share something they like to do. This sharing process really helps integrate each child to feel more a part of the group!
I explained to the children (who ranged in ages 5 to 7 years) that we would be working in teams to make up partner poses with a theme.
The children were asked to make up a partner pose and teach it to the entire class. When it came time to assign partners – one child refused to work with another child.
With a little help from the counselor assisting, we were finally able to encourage them to work together. The students were so creative. They made up partner poses incorporating Yoga poses they had learned that summer.
Two students were Super Hero’s saving the world together by demonstrating Warrior III (Hero Pose) facing each other palm to palm.
Another group came up with flowers and butterflies in the garden by doing flower pose and butterfly pose facing each other.
The most amazing thing happened… the boy who didn’t want to work with the other boy ended up having so much fun together. They created a partner pose together called “Dog going over the bridge”. One child was in down dog stretching over the other child in bridge pose.
The two boys were laughing and joking.
They were bonded by the end of the summer. In fact, the boy who had refused to work with the other little boy became his best friend and always wanted to sit next to him after that!
Partner poses are such a great way to encourage children to work as a team. This process helps them to open up to the possibilities of working with someone they would normally never work with. It also helps them learn about teamwork and collaboration. As a result, many new friendships blossom and the classes are less cliquey.
In my experience children who might resist Yoga or be too cool for it, come to see that it is not about competition and factions. It’s a place for them to relax and be themselves. Very often the expressions on their faces completely change by the end of class.
Some days you might get more resistance than others. I like to ask the students what they like, and what kind of music they want to hear during class. One day a student in a class for ages 11- 14 years, asked me to play the soundtrack to the musical “Hamilton”. We ended up doing a whole class based on the music and message of “Hamilton”. Some of the students that seemed disinterested when they first walked into class, suddenly lit up when we incorporated the music and history of the musical into creative Yoga poses and dance moves.
It’s so great to follow the lead and vision of the students. Meet them where they are…
“True and lasting peace will only be realized by forging life-to-life bonds of trust and friendship among the world’s people. Human solidarity is built by opening our hearts to each other.” Ikeda
So this summer crank up the tunes and have some fun outside in nature with Partner poses! Who knows maybe you’ll make a new friend!
Some excellent resources for partner poses are:
NGY Partner Yoga Lesson Plan for 2-7 yr. olds or 8-13 yr. olds
NGY Partner Yoga 2.0 Lesson Plan for 2-7 yr. olds or 8-13 yr. olds
Yoga Ed. Yoga Pretzel Cards
Next Generation Yoga Teacher for 2-13 yr. olds
New York, NY
Genie Morrow is the founder of Rock Flowers Yoga for Kids inspired by her love of music and nature.
She is currently a Certified NGY Teacher She also writes and plays music. Her love of children and music led her to become a Children’s Yoga Instructor. Genie had the great fortune to meet and study with Jodi Komitor, Founder of Next Generation Yoga for Kids in her original Next Generation Yoga for Kids studio in NYC. She trained and worked with Jodi as an NGY staff Kids Yoga teacher and currently teaches in many private and inner-city schools in the New York Metropolitan area and summer camps on the east coast. Genie teaches group classes, private classes and children’s birthday parties in NYC.