Kids Yoga Class Tips: helping kids create class rules for a positive experience

Kids Yoga Class Rules

One of the most frequent requests I get via e-mail and Facebook messaging is for tips on handling behavior & setting rules/boundaries in a kids yoga class. I’m by no means the biggest expert among us in kids yoga but I have had quite a bit of experience in dealing with a wide variety of behaviors in my work at the JD McCarty Center. Because every situation is unique, I always respond by asking a few questions…..

  • How old are the kids in the class?
  • How many kids are in the class?
  • Do you have any adult helpers?
  • Do any of the kids have diagnosed special needs (ADHD, Autism, SPD, anxiety, etc…) that might be a contributing factor to the behavior?
  • How long is your class? How long is each activity within your class?
  • Where are you teaching the class? Does that setting have any rules that the kids should already be following?
  • What time of day is the class?

I primarily work with kids with special needs….. even the inclusive class I did last summer/fall had a few kids with special needs in it. There is a big difference developmentally between the ability of a 4 year old & an 8 year old to understand & follow rules. Many 4 year olds may have limited experience in a structured setting and may just be beginning to learn the concept of following rules. Most kids over the age of 6 or 7 probably understand the concept of following rules if they have been in a school setting.

Why Go To All This Effort?

Helping kids learn positive ways to treat themselves & others is something that will help them well beyond the particular class they are in with you at that moment in time. Think of it as an investment in “planting seeds” in that child’s life. Not all kids grow up in environments that are nurturing & provide positive structure….. so you may have a golden opportunity to help provide a positive influence and learning opportunity.

Yoga is so much more than just “poses” (asanas). It also includes Pranayama (breathing), Mantras (positive affirmations), Mindfulness (focused attention), Relaxation (includes guided imagery) & Yamas/Niyamas (character education).

A Balanced Approach to Yoga

yamas niyamas

10 Things I Do:

  1. I have kids help me write the yoga rules for their yoga class. What rules are important to them? This gives them ownership in the rules since they helped create them. Often they needed a few examples of rules & a simple explanation on “why” that rule was important to get the discussion started. Even for kids who are not at a developmental level to be able to “create” the rules, they could still help choose them out of a field of a few choices. As a fun craft activity, the kids can make a poster of the rules they helped create & then you will have the poster up as a reminder in the class. See an example of a simple 3-rule poster from my friends at Kid Partners ( 0000.1367070208.&type=3&theater)
  2. I use visual supports and a “social story” (, to help kids understand the rules. More posts about visual supports on my blog:   I tend to keep my “yoga rules” really simple. The main three rules I typically have are:
    1. Stay on your mat
    2. Mats stay on the floor. I also make it fun by having the kids pretend to “glue” down the corners of their mat with an imaginary glue stick (learned this tip from a post from Mira at Global Family Yoga)
    3. And something along the lines of “Use “kind” words” or “We’re always nice to our friends”.

     3 Simple Yoga Class Rules - click on pic to open 1-page PDFYoga Group Social Story

  3. I have adult “helpers” to help the kids that have more extreme behaviors. This is especially important if you work with kids with special needs. I recently had a child with Autism & schizophrenia in my class and she had very unpredictable & explosive behavior. With the loving support of adult helpers, she ended up having fun participating in our therapeutic kids yoga class at JDMC.  See this post:
  4. I’ve learned not to be too quick to judge whether or not a particular child is “enjoying” yoga or any other activities. I have seen many kids initially be resistant or ambivalent to yoga and other activities end up loving it when given the opportunity to experience it on their own terms & at their own pace within safe boundaries.
  5. I tend to ignore behaviors unless they are at risk of hurting themselves or others and keep moving with the class. If the class is fun and you are the most interesting thing in the room, most kids will be engaged with what you are doing. As a general rule of thumb, behaviors that get the most attention are “reinforced” and are more likely to occur again. So I intentionally focus more attention on what kids are doing “right” and give specific praise regarding the on-task & positive behaviors I see kids doing.
  6. I have also strategically assigned yoga mats so certain kids can’t sit next to each other & the most disruptive kids were right by me. I then assigned them special jobs to be my “helpers”.
  7. Sometimes it also helps to change up the pace of the class when kids start exhibiting behaviors. I have had kids lose interest if I stayed too long on a particular pose or activity, it was too hard/too easy or it was too overstimulating. I put alot of thought into choosing props & music for classes for this reason…… and depending on how a class is going I will often modify as I go to meet what the kids are needing at that moment.
  8. I almost always base my classes around a kids picture book. It gives the kids something to pay attention to, they get to “be” part of the story & a book gives structure of having a beginning & an end.
  9. When I am doing an after-school class, I keep in mind that kids have had to sit all day, may have lots of energy and need to move. One idea is to start out the class with a really upbeat activity to give the kids a chance to get the sillies out. Yoga Freeze Dance is always fave. Then gradually reduce the activity level to calm.
  10. I keep kids attention spans, developmental levels & special needs in mind when determining the length of my class or any activities I am doing within a class.

Want More Info?

Lisa Flynn’s new book “Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children” is full of great tips!

lisa's book

As of the date of this post, Amazon has it on sale for 39% off ( There are also some tips on this post on her ChildLight Yoga blog: yoga-class.html.

See these posts for more great ideas:




Feel free to share your tips & “tag” your page in the comments in this album on the OMazing Kids Facebook page. I love to connect & learn from others in the amazing kids yoga community:


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2

Speech-Language Pathologist at the JD McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities (

Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness activities for kids of all abilities

Radiant Child Yoga Certified – Levels 1 & 2



Contests & Giveaways on Facebook:






Boardmaker Share:


OMazing Kids LLC is an organization that promotes inclusive wellness activities for kids of all abilities. The blog and social media pages share information about books, DVD’s, CD’s, games and other products specifically designed for kids wellness, mindfulness and relaxation, product reviews & giveaways, lesson plan & activity ideas, research, kids wellness in the news and a connection corner with listings of individuals doing adapted yoga and those offering trainings.

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Review & Giveaway: Meanings in Motion – Character Building Life Skill Card Deck

  Looking for a fun way to discuss important positive life skills with kids?

The Meanings in Motion – Character Building Life Skill Card Deck is a great resource to facilitate these discussions in a kids yoga class, as part of character education lessons in a classroom setting or for parents to use with kids at home.

We used the “Respect” card from the Meanings In Motion card deck after reading the book “The Rainforest Grew All Around” at the free OMazing Kids Yoga Story Stretchers event we did at the Norman Public Library on 9/17/11. It was so cool to see how kids that young understood the concept. They understood “no seed = no tree = no home for the animals” and came up with things they could do to “respect” our planet (pick up trash, turn off the water when brushing teeth, re-use things instead of throwing them away, etc..)”

See the YouTube video of part of that discussion:

Info about the cards:

The Meanings in Motion – Character Building Life Skill Card Deck is a portable conversation game that gets the whole family, class or group learning, talking, and implementing positive life skills. Pick a card and let the journey begin by discussing topics such as: gratitude, diversity, self-esteem, goal setting, feelings, responsibility, honesty, respect, integrity, compassion and more.  Each question and activity opens up new ways to connect, learn and grow while having fun at the same time!

• Portable conversation games and activities that allow you and your children to focus on powerful life skills that often get missed in the rush of daily life.
• 22 cards in a deck with more than 80 questions and over 40 activities.
• Great for families, groups, and classrooms.
• Cards are creatively designed by kids for kids
• Ages 5+

Here is a PDF of more great ideas of ways to use these cards: MIM cards More Activities for Families, Groups and Classrooms

Available for purchase on ($15.95):

And check out Meanings in Motion on Facebook:

And here’s a sneek peek at the updated Meanings in Motion website (still under construction): They are in the process of coming out with  a “revised edition” of the cards with new packaging for portability (on a carabineer for families on the go!) and will include MANY new fun activities for families, groups and classrooms.

DisclaimerI received a free sample of this product to facilitate my review.  Opinions expressed are my own.


How to enter the Meanings in Motion – Character Building Life Skill Card Deck giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment on this blog post. Must mention at least one important life skill concept all kids should learn. (comments must be in English; 1 entry per person; must have a valid e-mail address)
  2. For one additional entry, enter via the “Giveaways” tab on the OMazing Kids Yoga FB page ( & mention at least one important life skill concept all kids should learn (posts must be in English; 1 entry per Facebook account).

Entry Deadline: Enter by any of the methods listed above by 11:59pm CST on September 30, 2011.

Rules of Participation:

  • Must be 18 years or older with a valid e-mail address AND a mailing address in the United States of America.
  • Due to the cost of mailing, only USA entries allowed. Sorry… no international entries for this particular contest.
  • Employees or family members of OMazing Kids Yoga or Meanings in Motion are not eligible.
  • No purchase required.
  • Odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries received.
  • One (1) winner will be chosen via a random drawing of valid entries on October 1, 2011.
  • The winner will get one (1) copy of the Meanings in Motion – Character Building Life Skill Card Deck
  • The winner will be notified via e-mail.
  • In the event that the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected via a random drawing.
  • The winner’s mailing address will be obtained via e-mail and will be forwarded to Meanings in Motion.
  • Meanings in Motion will be shipping the card deck directly to the winner.
  • Prize Value: retail price $15.95.

Other Legal Stuff: I know it’s just a deck of life skill cards but just to be safe here is all the legal stuff…

This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You are providing your information to OMazing Kids Yoga and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for our internal purposes in relation to the administration of the giveaway. Your information will NOT be sold to any outside parties.

Indemnification/Hold Harmless: By participating, entrants agree: (a) to the decisions of OMazing Kids Yoga, which shall be final in all respects; (b) to release, discharge, and hold harmless OMazing Kids Yoga and its respective representatives and agents from all liability, injuries, losses or damages of any kind to persons or property resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the acceptance, possession, misuse or use of a prize, or from participation in and/or entry into the Contest or any Contest-related activity and for acceptance, delivery, or use of any prize; (c) that the foregoing parties have neither made nor are in any manner responsible or liable for any warranty, representation or guaranty, expressed or implied, in fact or in law, relating to any prize.

NOTE:  Please ignore any ads that appear below this divider bar. This is a free blog site & I have no control over ads appearing here.