Morning yoga for kids.
You may be thinking, I understand the benefits of yoga, but I don’t understand how it’s possible to integrate yoga and mindfulness to my already-jam-packed curriculum.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
With the increase in mental health issues and the need to focus on SEL in our classrooms, teachers are still stuck on how to incorporate yoga and mindfulness in a way that is quick, fun, and easy. Totally understandable!
Below, you will find four different ways that educators from the Kids Yoga Stories community are adding morning yoga and mindfulness to their morning routines to help children to ease into their day and get ready to learn.
Try one of these ideas or all of them—do whatever works for you and your classroom. And feel free to adapt the ideas to suit your students’ needs and preferences!
1. MINDFUL MORNING ANNOUNCEMENTS
The first way to introduce mindfulness at the beginning of the day is through Mindful Morning Announcements. By sharing a quick, easy mindfulness activity with the entire school first thing in the morning, you are setting everyone up to take a pause and come to the present moment, so that they are ready to learn.
One of our lovely Kids Yoga Stories Ambassadors, Amy Ketner, has spent twenty-five years in the counseling field and is currently an elementary school counselor. She created the Mindful Morning Announcements to bring mindfulness to her entire school population, including the teachers!
Amy created four different types of activities—including Breath, Gratitude, Mindful Movement, and Mindful Activity—and rotated through each of the topics. Here is a sample of Amy’s Breath activity on the morning announcements:
Breath Announcement: Deep Belly Breathing can help you calm down, relax, and get ready for the day. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in for four counts and then exhale through your nose for four counts. Practice this breath throughout the day.
Amy then gave the teachers an image of the Deep Belly Breathing and a video showing how to practice the breath. That way, the teachers could easily lead the breathing exercise in the classroom and be able to come back to it during the school day.
Example of “Mindful Breathing” here.
Read the “Ripple Effects of Mindfulness in Schools” here.
Watch “How to create Mindful Morning Announcements at your School”:
2. MORNING MINDFULNESS CLUB
Another way to integrate yoga and mindfulness at the beginning of the day is to host a Morning Mindfulness Program. This program could be a soft landing to school for those children who need a gentler start to the day or who get overstimulated by the typical loud start to the school day.
Four educators from a school in New Hampshire went through our School Yoga Program together and worked together to create a Morning Mindfulness Program. Their twenty-five-minute drop-in Morning Mindfulness class took place before school started, aiming to help the children get ready to learn.
It was a voluntary program to start the day, offered to multiple ages, and the students had a say in the mindfulness activities. About ten to fifteen children attended at first, and the numbers increased over time. The four instructors each took a turn leading the group one day a week. They used Google Slides to present the mindfulness activity.
The instructors used a mix of ideas, with a theme each day, including positive affirmations, stretching, yoga poses, sensory stations, and yoga flows.
- Mondays = Breath
- Tuesdays = Stretch
- Wednesday = Yoga Poses
- Thursdays = Positive Affirmations
- Fridays = Check-ins
The Mindful Mornings supported the students’ SEL learning because the children had a say in sharing ideas. They also did a “check-in” at the beginning of the class to share how they were feeling and used the zones of regulation to help them identify their feelings.
Cassandra, our Kids Yoga Stories Community Manager, also started a Mindfulness Club at her school. Read more or watch the video below to learn how she started her club.
Read the “Mindfulness Club: The Story of How a Teacher Took Her Mindfulness Club Online” here.
Watch “Start a Mindfulness Club”:
3. CALM DOWN CORNER
One of our Kids Yoga Stories community members, Sheila, purchased our Mindful Kids resource for her school community and emailed this lovely note:
This is spreading like wildfire! I am pinching myself that I am hearing my daughter and her friends talk about the mindfulness practices they are doing in class!
The guidance counselor is telling me every room she walks into, teachers and kids are doing the mindfulness program.
A few teachers wanted to me to introduce the program to their kids, which was great fun. They LOVED it and the idea that they get to have this time every day. We are also creating Calm Down Corners with a few mindfulness tools and the cards.
The principal just got back from a training for teachers’ wellbeing, and it was loaded with mindfulness practices!! We are transforming our little community!
For children who arrive to the classroom early and need a simple, independent activity to help them ease into the school day, try adding yoga and mindfulness activities to your Calm Down Corner. Some ideas could be:
- Breathing Exercise Cards for Kids
- Mindfulness Cards for Kids
- Chair Yoga Cards
- Mandala Coloring Pages
- Yoga Books for Kids
4. MORNING MEETING
A quick and easy way to add some movement to your Morning Meeting is to practice a “Yoga Pose of the Day” (or it could be of the week/month).
The kids look forward to doing yoga with these cards. It is one of our main exercises for the day, and we all love the clarity of the pictures. Each child leads one pose (ages 3,5,7), and then we get on with the day. Learning yoga is their favorite part of the day.– An Amazon Buyer
You could simply pick a yoga pose from a deck of yoga cards and practice the pose together. Or you could assign a student “Yoga Helper” to lead the pose. You could choose the pose based on that pose benefits—for example, you might like to practice a balancing posture to help them to be focused or maybe a twist pose to wake up their spines. Or possibly a warrior pose to build up heat in their bodies. Some specific poses might be:
- Balancing Poses
- Twist Poses
- Standing Poses
- Energizing Poses
- Strengthening Poses
- Hip-Opening Poses
- Core Poses
If you have more time during your Morning Meeting, you could also try one of our thematic five-pose posters. Click below to download your three free yoga posters.
Let us know how you are integrating morning yoga and mindfulness to start the school day! We would love to hear your ideas, as well.