Every teacher has had that moment when students are wiggly, uncomfortable, and just need a break. Usually, that means releasing kids to the playground or another activity that disrupts the flow of the day.
But what if you could help students move their bodies and feel better, without the distraction of leaving the classroom?
If you haven’t yet tried yoga with your students, now is the time!
You might have visions of yoga mats, needing to clear floor space, and then wonder how this would be more effective than recess. The great news is that you don’t have to do any of that. Have you ever tried chair yoga?
Yes, from the convenience and comfort of each students’ chair, you can lead your classroom in a simple yoga routine. Quickly, you’ll notice students calming down, expressing mental relief, and having fun.
And then just as quickly as it started it’s over, with minimal disruption to your classroom routine. Students then feel more centered and calm, ready to get back to focusing on their lessons and work.
So how do you get started and what poses work well for kids, chairs, and classrooms?
We’ve put together some basic poses to help you get started. Try these out in an order that you know will work for your students. Your students will be hooked and you’ll be thrilled to see the effects that a few simple poses will have on their focusing abilities!
1. Cat-Cow Stretch
This is such a great stretch for kids who have been studiously hunched over their work. Have kids place their hands on their knees, then have them collapse and “hunch” their backs over, dropping their chins toward their knees. Then have them keep their hands on their knees, but move their core in the opposite direction, extending their back into an exaggerated “proper” posture and looking up toward the ceiling. Repeat this two-step pose several times to stretch out the back, shoulders, and neck.
2. Cobra Pose
Have students scoot to the front edges of their chairs and use their hands to hold onto the back edges of their seats. Now they should arch their backs and turn their faces upwards to look at the ceiling. Hold the pose for a few seconds, then release. Repeat if desired.
3. Child’s Pose
This pose is complementary to the Cobra Pose. Have students scoot all the way back into their chairs. Then have them gently bend forward in half, placing their hands on the floor if they can reach. Tell them to relax and let their heads and arms hang. Hold the pose for a few seconds, then release and sit back up slowly.
4. Mountain Pose
Tell students to scoot to the front edges of their chairs. Let their arms rest at their sides, hanging downwards. Have them sit up really tall and tell them to imagine that there’s a string coming out of the tops of their heads, pulling them toward the sky. Have them hold the pose for a few seconds, then relax.
5. Extended Mountain Pose
Tell students to take a deep breath, then slowly raise their arms to the sides and then on up to the ceiling. Have them reach up to the sky and stretch their arms, with their palms facing the front of the room. Hold the pose for a few seconds, then gently release by slowly bringing their arms back down to rest on their laps.
6. Seated Twist Pose
Students wrap their left arms around the backs of their chairs while seated, making the top halves of their bodies twist left and their heads face the left side of the room. Hold this pose for a few seconds, then release. Have them repeat the pose on the right side.
7. Tree Pose
Ask students to stand up behind their chairs. They then hold onto the backs of their chairs with one hand, then raise the other hand up to the sky. Take the leg farthest away from the chair and set the bottom of the foot on the calf for a balance challenge. Switch sides, doing the same pose on the opposite side.
8. Resting Pose
This a great pose for students who are stressed out, frustrated, or overwhelmed. It also makes for a great ending pose to a series. Have them sit up straight in their chairs. Then have them rest their arms on the desk in front of them and gently rest their heads on their arms. Tell them to close their eyes, then walk them through a calming visualization that will help them to deeply relax. After a couple minutes, tell them to slowly and gently open their eyes and sit back up again.
Yoga for Students
It can be simple to get your students feeling clear-headed, calm, and peaceful again with chair yoga. It can be great for students who need to shake off frustration, get out their wiggles in an efficient way, and to bring order and calm to the classroom. It’s so easy and effective to do from the convenience of the students’ chairs that you can do it at any time during the school day.
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