For ages 10 and up, going on a yoga journey or telling yoga stories is too childish, so creating a yoga class around a concept is the glue that keeps the class together.
Even for grownups, and even more so with children, I never teach a class that is just a collection of poses and activities; there is always a theme that gives meaning to everything we choose to do. This gives the class a direction and enriches it with more depth and substance.
It’s fun to build a class around a more abstract topic like courage, concentration, friendship, love, support, or truth. A theme makes the class more meaningful by creating a thread that ties the different parts of the class together in a cohesive, purposeful way.
It is a great way to deliver a message or open the children’s minds, hearts, and eyes to a new concept or to something that can make a difference in their lives. It is teaching, but using very few words. We learn by interacting and moving together.
When we do a class with a concept, everything we do in that class will support that one concept.
When You Create a Class With a Concept:
Open the class with a short discussion about the topic in which everyone contributes something during their turn. A good time to do this is while passing around a speaking instrument such as a stick, feather, or a ball. You don’t want it to just be a lecture.
Bring the concept to life by relating all of the poses, games, meditations, and relaxations to the theme you have chosen.
- Being upside down
- Finding freedom in your body
- Balancing together
- Surrendering to gravity
- Being soft
- Opening the breath/heart/chest
- Partnering or group work
- Being slow
Emotional, Mental, and Social Concepts
- Working together
- Emotions/moods in general
Building a Class Around a Concept
For example, if your concept is the word "trust," here's what you can do:
In the class opening circle, ask each student to tell you about someone they trust, or about someone they think trusts them.
Choose poses where the students need to trust themselves.
For example, Crow Pose. Generally children will fall when they first attempt this pose. I then ask them what they were thinking when they did the pose. Mostly they’ll answer that they were thinking that their face is going to the floor. I ask them to do the pose again, but this time, thinking that they can totally do it and seeing themselves in their mind already in the pose… most of them can do it now!
Handstand and other balancing poses are also useful for this exercise.
Choose poses where the children need to trust each other. For example, counter balance poses and other acro-balance poses. You can also choose games that involve trust, and end with massage or a "loving kindness" meditation.
As another example, if the concept is "creativity," here are some ideas for what you can do:
Start by asking each student in the circle to tell you about something they have created.
Let the children express their creativity in leading the Sun Salutation, inventing their own new partner poses and sequences, new Human Pyramids, Yoga Choreography, and new Human Mandalas. They can all then perform for each other!
End with Mandala painting or another yoga art project.
How do you create yoga classes around a concept, either for adults or children? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!