Using some of these ideas for yoga games as part of a classroom or recreational exercise program can help start children along a lifelong path to better health and wellbeing.
Yoga and Children
Children love to use their bodies, and this natural inclination can easily be tapped to teach basic yoga principles. The benefits of yoga will grow naturally out of these nurturing physical activities.
As part of a comprehensive curriculum of physical exercise, yoga can help both children and adults learn:
- Healthy and restorative breathing techniques
- Develop discipline and grace
- Cultivate relaxation techniques that can help to reduce blood pressure and create a sense of calm
- Prepare the body naturally for physically taxing exercise
- Stretch and tone muscles and help maintain good back and joint health
- Promote a sense of accomplishment when difficult poses are mastered
Some Simple Ideas for Yoga Games
Easy Children's Poses
Start with basic easy postures when instructing children or adults who have no prior yoga experience, and always reinforce the importance of proper breathing techniques. Young children will probably be challenged by even simple poses, so patience and a positive, nurturing atmosphere are always important.To start, the following poses are easy to learn. Because a number of them are named after animals, children are naturally curious about them too.
Children enjoy activities that are action oriented. To make yoga stimulating and keep attention levels high, injecting some game principles into the mix can help. Although yoga is self-directed and non-competitive by nature, stretching the rules to include a bit of competition can make learning yoga postures more fun for juniors.
Guess the Name
Some yoga poses, like the cat pose, are intuitively named. When teaching basic poses that have names that are easy to identify, set up a competition and offer a gold star or a prize for the student who guesses the correct name first.
Animals, Animals, Animals
A number of beginner yoga poses are named after animals. This provides children with a creative opportunity to choose or make up postures and give them new animal names. Giving a prize for the most creative pose or name is a way to keep yoga practice lively and fresh.
Teach three or four related postures that can flow into one another. Once your students have mastered a few simple postures, offer badges of merit for performing postures in sequence. Give extra points for good breathing and proper form.
Tell a Story
After performing sequential poses, have children tell a story using the names of the poses to help establish a "plot". Offer an award for the best story.
Yoga Using the Nintendo Wii
Using electronic media to learn basic yoga principles is a good choice too. Videos can be helpful, but interactive games, like the yoga component of Nintendo's Wii can be exciting as well as instructive. When working individually, Nintendo Wii yoga style games in which users accrue points for performing poses can be a great way to get started, but usually a more individual in-depth approach will be necessary to learn yoga postures correctly and derive the most benefit from a yoga based exercise regimen.
Ideas for yoga games can grow naturally out of an understanding of your group. Some groups are more physically active, and others are more spiritually inclined. With some understanding of the age, energy level and possible limitations of the game members you have in mind, developing customized games that will be fun as will as instructive will be much easier.
It's easy to forget that children can suffer from stress too, and integrating yoga into playtime can help children learn to reduce their stress levels naturally.