Incorporate Yoga Into Play

Incorporate Yoga into Play by Alexa Fong
Some fun ways to incorporate yoga into play

Yoga and mindfulness are increasingly popular today and have indicated positive results in health and behavioral health. Many agencies and schools are now seeking to incorporate yoga in the classroom for children and youth.

Yoga is a type of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness-based therapies are utilized by the practice of mindfulness meditation, focusing on aspects of mindfulness by paying attention to both the internal and external, often centered on the awareness of breath (Kabbat-Zinn, 2003).

  • Meditation- Attention on the present moment
  • Awareness of thoughts and feelings
  • Acceptance of self and non-judgment

Mindfulness has been found to be inversely related to anxiety, neuroticism, depression, stress, illness, hostility and chronic pain (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Carmody & Baer, 2008; Lily & Hedlund, 2010). Further, mindfulness has been positively related to self-esteem, self-awareness, autonomy, and positive affect (Brown & Ryan, 2003). A review of studies found that mindfulness practices, such as yoga and tae-kown-do, improve executive functioning more than physical exercise alone. These programs, when implemented early and consistently, such as in an education program, may level the playing field for children at risk for emotional and behavioral problems, reducing the achievement gap (Diamond & Lee, 2011).

Here are some fun ways to incorporate yoga into play…

Animal/Mountain Game: 
Each child picks an animal to pretend to be through their movements and sounds. When the teachers says “Mountain,” all players must freeze in mountain pose.

  • This game has many variations:
  • Pretend to be a magical creature
  • Freeze in your favorite yoga pose
  • After being frozen in mountain pose, say “volcano” and players must jump in the air and “explode”

Red Light/ Green Light: 
All players must line up on the line. The teacher says “green light”, the players must walk (or run depending on space) forward. When the teacher says “red light,” players must freeze it their favorite pose. This continues until the first player to cross to the other side.

Intuition: 
Place a piece of paper or another flat object under a yoga mat. When the children come into the room tell them to use their intuition to find the paper. This may seem silly at first, but this exercise allows children to turn off their “thinking” and pay attention to subtle energies around them. They like to take turns hiding the paper under the mat.

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