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Calm Your Classroom with These Five Yoga Poses for Students

Calm Your Classroom with These Five Yoga Poses for Students

Whether you’re a regularly practicing yogi or the idea of anything that involves touching your toes sounds intimidating, chances are you’ve heard some of the buzz around yoga in the classroom. Incorporating mindful movement, especially with young learners, can be a great way to improve students’ focus and manage feelings of stress and anxiety—abilities that are equally important outside of the classroom as in it.

Getting started with a classroom yoga practice doesn’t have to be time-consuming or scary, and you certainly don’t need to be a yoga teacher to do so. Lots of yoga poses are actually very simple, focusing on breathing and body awareness rather than flexibility or strength. Plus, kids enjoy them! Here are five basic poses to try with your students, including info on the specific benefits each provides.

1. 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.

Learn more about Cat Pose and Cow Pose from Yoga Journal.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

 

Looking for more ideas to help your students calm down and build critical social and emotional skills? Check out this blog post for 3 Easy Ways to Bring Mindfulness into the Classroom!

sarah.cornelius@edmentum.com's picture

Sarah Cornelius is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Edmentum and has been with the company since 2014. In her role, she works to provide educators with engaging and insightful resources. Sarah received her B.S. in Professional Communications and Emerging Media from the University of Wisconsin - Stout.

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