games for children to learn life through yoga
The word yoga means “to unite” or “to join.” It comes from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj.’ Through the practice of yoga postures and breathing exercises, we learn to unite the body, mind and breath. Through practice, we also learn about ourselves, and ultimately, how to live harmoniously with our neighbors, near and far.
My young students often translate yoga as “working together,” “helping each other,” “teamwork” and “cooperation.” The practice, according to Sage Patanjali, can be difficult however. We may experience many obstacles along our way: hatred, anger, self-importance and unhappiness.
To overcome these obstacles, Patanjali advises us to:
• Be friendly to those who are happy
• Be kind and compassionate to those who are suffering
• Be happy when someone does something good
• Practice equanimity when someone does something wrong
Children can come to understand these fundamental yoga principles through the practice of group yoga games. Such children games emphasize play and are non-competitive; the emphasis is not on winning, but on working together towards a common goal. Each player is a necessary part, and no one is left waiting for a chance to partake.
Group games for kids increase:
- student participation
- and help develop social skills
Children learn to share, to empathize, and to relate to their classmates. In addition, cooperative group games boost children’s self-esteem and feelings of acceptance, and instill trust.
Moreover, leading developmental experts agree that play is one of the most important elements in healthy development. Making yoga fun and playful will create a lifelong love of the practice.
Try these fun and minfdul yoga games for kids:
We’re All It
This is a variation of Tag. Everyone gets to be “it.” Children are not singled out; there is no pressure of being “it,” nor is there the feeling of isolation that may accompany being “it.”
1. Ask children to freeze in their favorite yoga posture. Then, one by one, “unfreeze them.” The unfrozen children may freeze again in another posture or unfreeze their classmates.
2. If a child is unfrozen, she has a choice: freeze again in a new yoga posture, freeze someone who is unfrozen by tagging him, or unfreeze someone who is frozen by duplicating their yoga posture.
3. Variations: Children may only practice wide legged postures such as Warrior I, Warrior II or Triangle. To unfreeze classmates, students must crawl under them. Alternatively, practice only standing balance poses such as Tree, Dancer and Warrior III.
This is a cooperative game for older children. It encourages trust and confidence and requires attention. You’ll need some music, but no chairs.
1. Have the children form a circle then turn towards their right (left shoulders to the center of the circle).
2. Ask them to move comfortably close, so that the circle becomes smaller.
3. Put on some music and ask the children to walk in their circle.
4. Stop the music. The children will bend their knees and sit on the thighs of the child behind them in “chair pose.”
5. Start and stop the music up again.
6. Variations: Have the children turn around and move in the opposite direction. Or, raise their arms overhead as they sit.
Creativity and problem-solving skills are necessary for this game. It also requires the group to cooperate and move together; it encourages camaraderie.
1. Ask the children to stand side by side in a line, in mountain pose, their feet hip-width apart. Each foot must touch the foot of the person on each side.
2. The group has to walk across the room without separating their feet from their partner’s.
3. If the group comes apart, they must begin again.
4. Variation: Ask the children to walk on their toes.
This game encourages kids to be their silly selves while practicing and remembering different yoga poses. It also helps their spatial awareness and sense of organization.
1. Have your students line up behind the teacher in one straight line. The teacher, or the engineer of the train (whoever is chosen to lead), picks a pose that everyone will eventually do.
2. Have the enginner lead the train around the room, and the passengers must dance or move as silly as they can (while staying ‘on the train.’)
3. When the engineer turns around, everyone must go into the previously mentioned pose.
Take turns by changing the engineer once they each do one lap around the room. Have some music playing in the background for added fun!
Have fun with your children, stay present and engage in their laughters. They will love you for it.