8 Calming Yoga Poses to Share with Your Students In-Person or Virtually
8 Calming Yoga Poses to Share with Your Students In-Person or Virtually
Like everyone, students can benefit from a little movement during the day, especially during times where they may feel like they are under extra and unfamiliar stress. Exercise is always important, and yoga can be a great tool to manage anxiety, improve focus, and stay grounded during this uncertain time. Best of all, it’s easy to practice, no matter where students are spending their time or what their prior exposure to yoga looks like.
Here are eight calming yoga poses to share with your students and families that are perfect to use as regular brain breaks for effectively coping with stress and anxiety.
- Cat and Cow
How to do it: Get into a tabletop position on hands and knees, with your knees hip-width distance apart and shoulders over wrists. Breathe in, look up so your chin is facing the sky, and drop your tummy and lift your tailbone—like a cow. Then, breathe out, look down and tuck your chin so it is touching your chest, and arch your back—like a cat. Continue to move like this, staying in sync with your breath.
Why it works: In addition to helping students build flexibility and strength in their back and spinal muscles, cat-cow, with its close tie to breath, promotes focus and helps students feel emotionally stable. It’s a great way to calm and center a squirrelly classroom. Plus, the animal name of the pose is always a winner with young kids.
- Tree Pose
How to do it: Start in standing position with your feet together. Bring your palms together in front of your chest and shift your weight onto your right foot. Find something to stare at in front of your that will not move for balance. Lift your left leg up and out, bending your knee so that you can place the bottom of your left foot on the inside of your right upper thigh (you can use your left hand to move your leg and foot into position). If your upper thigh is too hard to reach, you can also place the bottom of your foot on the inside of your right calf—just don’t place your foot on your right knee. Once you’re in position, balance and breathe for about 30 seconds. Then, switch sides.
Why it works: Tree post helps students improve their balance while strengthening and stretching leg and ankle muscles. Plus, this tall and proud pose helps students find their focus and feel steadier and more confident in themselves.
Learn more about Tree Pose from Yoga Journal.
- Happy Baby
How to do it: Start by lying down on your back. Exhale and bend both knees into your belly. Inhale, and grab hold of the outside edge of each foot (right foot in right hand and left foot in left hand). Open your knees slightly wider than hip distance, and push them back towards your armpits. Lift shins so they are perpendicular to the ground, flex feet through the heels, and push your feet into your hands to create resistance. Hold for about a minute, rocking gently on your back side-to-side.
Why it works: The name says it all—it’s hard not to feel good in this restorative pose. It provides a gentle opening for the hips, stretch for the spine, and decompressing self-massage for the back. Plus, it acts as a great mood booster by helping kids tap into their natural energy and cheerfulness.
Learn more about Happy Baby Pose from Yoga Journal.
- Easy Pose
How to do it: Sit upright with legs crossed, making sure that your weight is balanced across both sit bones. Place your hands on each knee with palms facing up. Drop your shoulders, be sure to keep your spine long, and your head and neck aligned. Stay in this posture for about a minute, being sure to continue breathing.
Why it works: Easy pose is simple—but it’s so valuable! This pose is great for improving posture, plus its good for strengthening and stretching the back, things, and hips. It’s an approachable introduction to yoga that can help students start to understand the calming benefits.
Learn more about Easy Pose from Yoga Journal.
- Legs Up the Wall
Why it works: Especially when combating stress is the goal, doing less can often accomplish so much more. Legs Up the Wall is an approachable, entirely restorative pose that allows students to slow down and fully relax, while stretching the lower back and hamstrings. Plus, inverting the legs promotes blood flow towards the upper body and head for a refreshing energy boost.
How to do it: Start by find space in front of an empty wall. Move hips as close to the wall as possible, then walk the feet up the wall until your body forms an L-shape, keeping the back and shoulders flat on the group. Let arms lie flat and spread at your sides. Try to stay in this pose for at least two minutes, taking long, slow inhales and exhales through the nose.
Learn more about Legs Up the Wall Pose from Yoga Journal.
- Downward Facing Dog
How to do it: Start by getting into a table top position on hands and knees, with your knees hip-width apart distance apart and shoulders over wrists. Exhale, tuck your toes, and lift your knees and hips away from the floor, trying to touch the ceiling with your tailbone. Knees should be straight (but not locked) and all ten fingers should be spread so that you are actively pressing your palms and fingers into the floor. Try pedaling out both feet, first lifting a heel up then pressing it down further towards the group, getting as close to having both feet flat as possible, for an added stretch.
Why it works: Downward facing dog is the quintessential yoga pose, and it is such an outstanding whole-body exercise. It stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, foot arches, and hands, while strengthening arms and legs. Plus, it supports digestion and energizes the body—making it a perfect after-lunch activity to recharge students for their afternoon in the classroom.
Learn more about Downward Facing Dog Pose from Yoga Journal.
- Child's Pose
How to do it: Sit on your heels, then slowly fold over to bring your forehead to rest in front of your knees. Extend your arms as far as you can in front of you. Stay in this position for about a minute, breathing deeply and steadily the whole time.
Why it works: Child’s pose is an outstanding restorative yoga pose. It provides a gentle stretch for the hips, thighs and ankles, but more importantly is very helpful in calming anxiety, reducing stress, and fighting fatigue. This pose is a great option to help your students calm down and refocus, especially after a difficult or stressful activity like a drill for an emergency event.
Learn more about Child’s Pose from Yoga Journal.
- Frog Pose
How to do it: Start in a standing position, with your feet apart. Then, gently bend your knees and slowly lower into a squat. Once in a deep squat, move around a bit and get comfortable—you may want to put your hands together in front of you or you could put them on the floor. Keep your hands on the floor and straighten your legs, then return to squatting position. Repeat these motions a few times, until you feel nice and loose.
Why it works: Frog Pose helps stretch the back and relax muscles, which is great after sitting for an extended period of time. It’s also a fun and playful pose, we bet you can’t help but say “ribbit!”
Learn more about Frog Pose from Yoga Journal.
Looking for more ideas to help your students manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19 school closures? Check out this recorded webinar on Using SEL Strategies to Navigate in Times of Crisis.