Games


Yoga games have innumerable benefits to offer children. Among these are:

Physical Benefits:

  • Enhance coordination and balance
  • Increase physical strength
  • Develop greater flexibility and body awareness
  • Foster sense of calmness

Social Benefits:

  • Build confidence
  • Reinforce positive self-esteem
  • Inspire teamwork, cooperation and compassion
  • Encourage play and playfulness (essential to development)

Intellectual Benefits:

  • Stimulate brain
  • Sharpen observation skills
  • Increase concentration, memory, and attention span
  • Spark curiosity and creativity

Student Teaching:

Since our mission revolves around creating teachers, not students, its always fun (and important!) to allow and encourage the students to teach different portions of the game. As they get more comfortable, they will love the opportunity to be charge, and they will evolve into teachers without even knowing it.

Moving Games:

Toe-ga

Props: Pompoms (or balled up pieces of paper) a collection site for each child (could be an open container or a circle drawn around their feet before they begin.

Instructions: Each child begins on their mat/spot. The teacher spreads pompoms around the floor and sets a timer (or begins counting). The students walk around the room and try to pick up as many pompoms as they can and bring back to their space using only their toes. They can go back for more as often as possible before the time runs out! (Or until there are no more pompoms to be collected.)

Benefits: Coordination, Foot flexibility

 

Yoga Nature Walk

Props: None

Instructions: Go for a walk outside, notice what you see (animals, trees, etc.) and do or create a yoga pose for each thing. The game is over when the teacher decides it has been long enough.

Benefits: Fosters reverence and awareness of Nature, Grounding, Exercise

 

Balloon Game

Props: 1 balloon

Instructions: The teacher has the un-inflated balloon in his or her mouth, and is standing in a circle with the students. As the balloon inflates, the students inflate themselves (using their arms and lungs to mimic the balloon). When the balloon deflates they also deflate. The teacher can then have some fun by letting the balloon squeak as it deflates, and having the children mimic that. Further (my favorite part of the game), the teacher may let the balloon go and let it swirl and flutter around the room, and everyone mimics that. Lastly, the balloon may pop! (or pretend to pop), at which point all the children pretend to pop and fall flat on the floor.

Notes: The suspense of not knowing what the teacher/balloon will do, and being ready to mimic is really gets the attention (and giggles) of smaller children.

Benefits: Deep breathing, Laughter

 

The Artist and the Clay

Props: None

Instruction: Everyone gets split up into pairs (or you make a circle with the ‘clay’ person in the middle and the ‘artists’ in the circle). The artist gets to tell the clay which body part to move (i.e. ‘Lift your right arm up into the sky’, ‘Stand on one leg’, etc). The artist is using the human ‘clay’ to create his or her piece of art. When finished, the roles switch.

Benefits: Body awareness, Empowerment, Teamwork, Confidence building

Credits: Karma Kids

 

Yoga Stories

Props: Book or Your Imagination (or imagination help from your students)

Instructions: Find a good children’s book (with lots of animals, such as, You Are A Lion by Taeeun Yoo—or make up your own story!) and read it to the children, whenever you come across an animal (or tree, or rock, or happy baby…) have all the children do the pose.

Note: Works best with younger children

Benefits: Creativity, Imagination, Exercise

 

Yoga Hokie Pokie

Props: None

Instructions: Everyone stands around in a circle, one at a time, in time with the Hokie Pokie song, the students get to choose which Pose they would like to put in and out. (i.e. ‘Put your Warrior II in, put your Warrior II out, put your Warrior II in, and shake it all about…) Do the song motions with the chosen pose.

Benefits: Teamwork, Confidence building, Body Awareness, Cooperation

 

Strike a Pose

Props: None

Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle. One at a time, each child gets a chance to say his or her name, and simultaneously do a movement. Then, the rest of the group repeats the name and movement back to the individual. If you want to make the game longer and more challenging, let the next child go, and have everyone repeat the names/movements of the first and second child. After the third child has a turn, everyone repeats all three names/movements, until all the names and movements are strung together and everyone has had their turn. Great for learning names.

Notes: This is a great game for warming up, breaking the ice, and letting each child have a chance to express him or herself to the group, and be acknowledged.

Benefits: Self expression, Confidence building, Exercise

 

Dance Dance Freeze

Props: Music

Instructions: Everyone dances around until the music stops at which point everyone must freeze (or strike a yoga pose)! If you like, you can have the last person to be still sit out until there is one winning student left over. (Or you can allow everyone to continue playing.)

Benefits: Self expression, Exercise, Laughter, Listening skills

 

5 Pose Flow

Props: None

Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle. Each student gets a turn to lead the rest of the group in 5 sequences, in a flow formation.

Alternative method: Each student chooses one pose, and as you go around the circle, the poses get strung together into a sequence created by the class as a whole. Name the sequence, if it’s a good one, so you can come back to it another day (see if they can remember it correctly!)

Notes: Great for getting the students into the habit of teaching, and being the center of attention. Make sure everyone claps for the ‘teacher’ when they are done teaching!

Benefits: Leadership skills, Creativity, Confidence building, Teamwork

 

Gratefulness Ball Pass

Props: Ball

Instructions: Everyone sits in a circle and passes the ball around using only their feet! (If you want to make it more challenging, add core work by not allowing them to lean on their hands while using their feel.) Each person, after getting the ball and before passing it on, must tell the class one thing they are grateful for (or one thing they like to do, or one thing they are good at, one thing they are proud of, one person in their life whom they love, one thing that makes them happy, one affirmation, etc.) Then pass it on.

Notes: To make it more challenging, have them pass the ball across the circle rather than around it.

Benefits: Fosters sense of Gratitude, Core strengthening, Teamwork, Emotional awareness

 

Small ball Pass

Props: Small ball such as a tennis ball

Instructions: Have the students sit in a circle, hold the ball between your chin and shoulder, and pass it to the next one, and have them pass it until it makes it all the way around the circle. See if you can make it the whole way without dropping the ball. Then, see how fast the group can pass the ball round the circle.

Notes: An orange or small round fruit could be used in place of a ball. The smaller and heavier it is, however, the more difficult the task becomes.

–This game works best with young kids who have not yet hit puberty. Older kids feel a bit uncomfortable with this game, and I try to respect that. If you’re with an age group that is mixed, or you are unsure if it would be appropriate or not, split the group up by gender. This way you have a girls only circle and a boys circle. Then you can have them race each other.

Benefits: Teamwork, Cooperation, Laughter

 

Hula Hoops Circle

Props: Hula Hoop or something similar (even a loop of rope could work for this)

Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle holding hands. The hoop goes over the teacher’s arms before he or she links arms with the person to the left. Then she ducks under the hool to pass it to the person on her right, who must also duck and step through it, causing the hoop to travel around the entire circle.

Notes: Time the group and see how fast you can manage to get the hoop round the circle. Be sure to have those waiting cheer on the person who’s going through the hoop—it can be harder for children than you might expect.

Benefits: Teamwork, Confidence building,

 

Follow My Body

Props: None

Instructions: No talking allowed as the teacher moves slowly and the students must all mimic his or her body movements. The teacher may lead the class through a sun salutation, basic free movement, or flowing stretches. You may also add (animal) sounds for the students to mimic, and/or allow a student to lead the class.

Benefits: Body awareness, Exercise, Focus

 

Yoga Wave

Props: None

Instructions: Like a stadium wave, with yoga postures, everyone stands in a circle, and one person does a yoga pose, and the person next to them does it, and the next person, and so it moves around the circle until everyone is left holding that pose. Increase the difficulty by starting one wave, and then adding a second one before the first is finished. Alternatively, add a second wave going in the opposite direction.

Benefits: Concentration, Teamwork, Exercise, Coordination

 

Mirroring

Props: Some music is nice but optional

Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle with their hands in prayer at their heart. Everyone points their prayer at someone else until each person finds a partner with eye contact and the ‘prayer point’. Then, each pair must mirror each other’s movements. There is no talking allowed, so it will be unclear who is leading, and who is following or when the roles change.

Notes: A great game for learning to work together, communicate without words, and to learn to follow rather someone’s lead/relinquish the urge to be in charge.

Benefits: Focus, Teamwork, Confidence building, Coordination

 

Yoga Obstacle Course

Props: All the props you can find/use

Instructions: The teacher, (and/or the students), create different stations with different yoga-related activities that must be completed, be as creative as possible. Teacher should go through the whole course first to demonstrate to the students what to do at each station.

Alternative Method: You can switch things up by blindfolding students, having them move through the course backwards, in teams, etc.

Notse: It’s a good idea to have each student count to 10, or wait until the previous student has reached a certain station before starting the course in order to avoid a bottleneck.

Benefits: Imagination, Teamwork, Coordination, Exercise, Confidence building

 

Human Mandala

Props: None

Instructions: In the Human Mandala we simply stay connected as a group in all the poses throughout… the possibilities are endless! We start the Human Mandala by sitting knee to knee, and we start moving from there, coordinating our movements with the group and with the breath. Human Mandalas can be very simple and short, to fit little kids, or very intricate or even acrobatic to keep teenagers’ interest for half an hour or more.

Notes: Great for opening a class, warming up, and getting a bit more comfortable with each other. It is also a good way to bring a group back together and back to focus.

Benefits: Teamwork, Exercise, Unity

Credits: Borrowed from rainbowkidsyoga.net

 

Yoga Pretzels

Props: None

Instructions: Stand apart from each other, loose and relaxed. Choose a leader. Leader: call our the names of body parts. The players have to make shapes by letting only those body parts touch the floor. Examples: “one foot and one thumb”; “one knee and one elbow”; “two knees”; “just your tummy”; etc. Be sure to take turns as leader. For more of a challenge, play in pairs. If the leader calls out: “one hand, one foot”—that means between the two of you!

Benefits: Leadership, Teamwork, Exercise

Credits: Yoga Pretzels, by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, Introduced by Baron Baptiste

 

“Yogi Says”

Props: None

Instructions: Choose a leader and play just like “Simon Says” Leader demonstrates differene movements or yoga postures. Players follow along only when leader says “Yogi says.” If leader does not say, “Yogi says” and player(s) moves, the player(s) must: perform a consequence, chosen by the leader. Leader chooses a yoga pose such as tree or warrior or something fun such as donkey kick or frog jump.

Notes: Take turns as leader. Try giving directions for group formations, such as, “Yoga says, everyone make a flower or a star!”

Benefits: Listening skills, Leadership, Focus, Exercise

Credits: Yoga Pretzels, by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, Introduced by Baron Baptiste

 

Nature Kids

Props: None

Instructions: Make a list of natural phenomena such as storms, clouds, tree, rainbows, eaves, fire, etc. Spread out so that you can make big movements without hitting anyone. Appoint a leader to call out the words in any order, at any speed. Act out each of the words in a way you think is best. Have fun!

Benefits: Imagination, Listening skills, Exercise, Creativity

Credits: Yoga Pretzels, by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, Introduced by Baron Baptiste

 

Class Flow Creation

Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle. The first student chooses a yoga pose (perhaps their favorite) and everyone does that pose. The next person chooses another pose, and it gets added on to the first one. Each students gets to add a pose to the sequence as it builds, and the class completes the sequence together (either each time a pose gets added, or at the end when everyone has decided on which pose to add.

Benefits: Group creativity, Cooperation, Creativity, Teamwork

 

Run Stop Jump Clap

Props: None

Instructions: Instruct the students with the following phases of the game. 1. When I say run, you run, when I say stop you stop. Play a few rounds. 2. When I say stop, you run, when I say run, you stop. 3. Keeping with the instructions of phase 2, add on by instructing, when I say jump, you jump, when I say clap you clap. 4. The most difficult level! When I say stop, you run, when I say run, you stop, when I say jump, you clap, when I say clap, you run.

Benefits: Mental focus, Exercise, Concentration

 

Go-Stop-Back-to-Back

Props: None

Instructions: Appoint a leader. Spread out in the space and make sure you have an uneven number of players. If someone needs to sit out, take turns. Follow the directions that your leader calls: “Go Walk,” “Go Crawl,” “Go Roll,” etc. When the leader calls “Stop! Back-to-back, 1…2…3…!” stand or sit back-to-back with another person before the leader gets to three. If you don’t make it sit out for a round or become the next leader.

Notes: Play lively music and use this game as a warm-up before doing partner poses

Benefits: Exercise, Listening skills, Leadership, Ability to follow instructions, Creativity

Credits: Yoga Pretzels, by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, Introduced by Baron Baptiste

Breathing Games:

It is important to teach children to breath with their bellies and to breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Continue to remind them until it becomes learned behavior, and/or do some simple breathing exercises before jumping into the games. It all depends on the goups.

Pom Pom Straw Race

Props: Straws and pompoms or balled up pieces of paper

Instructions: Every child gets one ball and one straw. They all line up on one end of an empty room. When the teacher says ‘Go’, the students use their straws to blow their pompom across the floor to the other side of the room. The first one to make it is the winner.

Notes: Alternatively, use chalk or tape to make a ‘race track’ on the floor for the pompom to follow.

Benefits: Deep Breathing (lots of it!), Exercise

 

Straw/Paint Art

Props: Paint, paper, straws

Instructions: Every child gets their own straw and paper, and paint is distributed for sharing. Students put a dab of pain on their paper, and then use the straws and their breath to direct the paint on the page in order to create their piece of art.

Notes: Thicker paint works best for this

Benefits: Deep Breathing, Creativity, Imagination, Creation

 

Om Round Robin

Props: None

Instructions: Everyone takes a deep inhalation and sounds ‘om’ for as long as possible. Without waiting for each other, when each student is out of air, they inhale and begin again. As people get out of sync with one another, a symphony of ‘om’ing will be the result. The game is over when it feels like time to stop.

Benefits: Deep breathing, Cooperation, Voice discovery

Music Games

Circle Band

Props: None

Instructions: The group sits in a circle and the teacher begins by making one sound repetitively (creating a beat). The next person creates a new sound and adds it in time. The third person adds his or her own sound, and thus the music gets more complex. Everyone must continue making their sound until each person in the circle has joined the band. If you like, when it’s the teachers turn again (and if its still going), each person can change their sound to something else, as their turn comes back around.

Notes: Works best with a small group. Get creative with different sounds. Caution, this may turn into a big burst of laughter!

Benefits: Imagination, Musical creativity, Teamwork

 

Partner Voicing

Props: None

Instructions: Everyone finds a partner and moves to their own area. Partner 1 puts their hands out, palms up. Partner 2 rests their hands on top of Partner 1’s with their palms facing down. The person with their hands on top is the ‘Voicer’, and the other person is the ‘Supporter’. The Voicer gets 1 minute (or 2, depending on age) to sing in a way that does not use a familiar tune, nor any words. This is sometimes also referred to as “Spirit Song” in which the person allows their spirit to sing. Partners should remain eye contact, and when the first person is finished, they may take a few deep breaths together before changing their hand positioning and switching rolls.

Notes: This is best done outside where there are not many people around. This exercise can be very empowering and moving for some people. If it is difficult to begin, the voicer may find it useful to begin with simple humming and then progress to singing, and/or may push down on the supporter’s hands for extra power.

Benefits: Finding one’s Voice (literally and figuratively), Confidence building, Fosters the ability to offer non-verbal support, Promotes a healthy throat chakra.

 

Jazzy Jamming

Props: None (or some simple instruments)

Instructions: Sit in a circle. You are a group of musicians about to create a piece of music using your voices and hands to sing, hum, whistle, clap, knock, etc. Close your eyes and listen carefully. Notice the sounds around you—and the silence. When you’re ready, choose a theme to inspire you. Here are some ideas: Rainforest, Party, Nightmare, Winter. Appoint a leader to start the rhythm or melody. Weave in complementary sounds as you feel moved. Allow your music to arise and die away naturally. Share a few moments in silence at the end, then open your eyes and thank one another.

Benefits: Musial awareness, Creativity, Teamwork, Rhythm awareness

Credits: Yoga Pretzels, by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, Introduced by Baron Baptiste

Focus and Concentration Games

Pass the Beat

Props: None

Instructions: Everyone sits in a circle with knees touching. Everyone puts both hands on the floor in front of them. Next, each person puts their hands on the other side the hand on either side of them, so each person has to hands in front of them that are not their own. The teacher begins by clapping the floor with his or her hand, then, the next hand should clap the floor, sending the clap around the circle. It gets confusing because the next hand does not necessarily belong to the next person in line. If you want to make it more challenging, send more than one clap around the circle, or send one going the other direction.

Benefits: Focus, Concentration, Teamwork

 

Good Morning Yogi

Props: None

Instructions: One person is ‘it’ and leaves the room momentarily. The rest of the group chooses a ‘greeter’. When the group decides on who the greeter will be, the ‘it’ person comes back into the room and everyone faces away from him and her (and he/she can turn her back to them as well for extra security). Then the greeter uses a funny voice to say “Good Morning Yogi!” The ‘it’ person gets to guess who is the greeter. If they get it wrong, the greeter repeats the phrase and the ‘it’ person gets to guess again. After three tries, the round is over, and the greeter gets to be the ‘it’ person, and the group chooses a new greeter.

Benefits: Focus, Listening skills

 

Intuition

Props: A card or piece of paper easily hidden under a mat or a body

Instructions:  Everyone sits in a circle. One person is ‘it’ and leaves the room. The rest of the group chooses who will hide the card under his or her mat/seat/bum. The ‘it’ person returns to the room, walks around, looking people in the face and gets three tries to guess who has the card hidden under their mat/seat/bum. This is a game of intuition, and of looking at people to discern if they are hiding something!

Benefits: Fosters natural intuition

 

Yoga Jenga

Props: Jenga blocks with yoga poses written on them

Instructions: Each person in the group takes turns pulling out a Jenga block and, before putting it on top of the tower, must do the pose (or sequence or what-ever it may be) that is written on that block. It is up to the teacher to decide what to write on the blocks depending on the group they are working with. When the tower falls, the game is over.

Benefits: Focus, Concentration, Team support, Exercise

 

Applaus-o-meter

Props: None (Any small item you can hide somewhere around the room)

Instructions: One person is ‘it’ and leaves the room. In the mean time, the rest of the group decides where, within the confines of the room/area, to hide the small item. When this is complete, the ‘it’ person returns to the room, and must find the item. The only help they get is the applause of the group—the closer they get to the item, the louder the group must clap, the farther away, the more the applause dwindles. (Similar to ‘Hot/Cold’)

Benefits: Focus, Listening skills, Team support, Teamwork

 

Bell Game

Props: One small bell

Instructions: Everyone sits together in a circle. The bell is placed in the center of the circle and one person is chose to be ‘it’. This person must get up from their seat, to go the center, pick up the bell, and walk with it to their seat. They may use only one hand, and the bell may not make a sound, meaning they must undertake the task with concentration, and calm. If the bell sounds, they begin again from the start.

Benefits: Focus, Ease of movement, Concentration

Empowerment and Deeper Understanding Games:

Interconnection Web

Props: A ball of Yarn

Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle and the teacher holds the ball of yarn. Holding onto one end of the string, he or she throws the ball of yarn to someone else in the circle (across the circle is best). That person holds onto the string and tosses the ball of yarn to the next person, until everyone is holding part of the yarn (and the remaining ball of yarn is back with the teacher) and there is a net of yarn connecting everyone in the circle. The teacher may then choose to continue by pulling on the string, seeing who feels it (they will likely have forgotten the order of people). That person then pulls on his or her string, etc.

Notes: This is a great way to demonstrate the concept of interconnectedness, and to lead into a discussion of how everything and everyone in the world is connected. A good question to ask is ‘How many people must do their jobs in order for you to be here today?’ The answer, of course, can range from, Parents raising us, a driver must deliver the food we eat, the farmer or family must grow the food we eat, the school teachers must do their work, the principle, etc. The answer could go on until every portion of our world is mentioned (including the weather, the government, the society, etc.)

Benefits: Fosters the understanding of interconnectedness and one-ness, Clarifies the importance of Unity.

 

Partner Affirmations

Props: Music, Affirmations

Instructions: Start a dance party by leading them to do what you are doing with your body, then move to verbal cues such as, ‘look at your fingers, see what they can do, and follow them with your eyes’, explore your elbos, move them in a way that’s weird’, ‘have a conversation with your feet’. Then move on to less concrete cues such as, ‘Move in a way that’s funky/ugly/different/beautiful/surprising’, ‘have a dance with your heart’, ‘tell your story to the dance floor’ etc. (Get as creative as you like!).

Once the kids are over their inhibitions and are dancing around, call out “Partner up!” and allow them to scramble to find a partner (as they continue to dance). Dancing while facing each other, have them repeat after you as you call out phrases such as: “You’re so amazing!” “Why Thank you very much!”, “You’re so good at this!” “I know, its true!”, “I know that you are Powerful!” “Thank you, Its true!”

Notes: This is your chance to get creative, silly, and to empower your students with phrases that they will hear about themselves, and admit to being true. This is the first step to changing someone’s mental patterns, to thinking of themselves in what may be a new way, and to feel empowered.

Benefits: Confidence building, Exercise, Empowerment, Laughter, Self expression

Credits: JourneyDance, Toni Bergins

 

Hearts Hide ‘n Seek

Instructions: Ask everyone to close their eyes and have them raise their arms out in front of them, reaching with their finger tips. They will slowly walk around, eyes closed, and try to feel for the other kid’s finger tips. The game is to be quiet, if they meet someone keep their eyes closed and don’t talk, they only touch gently.  Can they feel the person’s energy through their fingertips?  Then they can whisper “Hello” or “Namaste” and then move on to find someone else.

Notes: The teacher needs to watch the kids because everyone has their eyes closed.  But it is fun to see if the kids can feel their way around the room without using their eyes.  They can use their heart and intuition.  Feel instead of see.  Many kids will have trouble keeping their eyes closed and being quiet, but it is still a fun challenge to try it and they can build up to going longer times.  And it also has to be an empty room so the kids don’t get hurt.

Benefits: Increases intuition and awareness, Teaches sensory awareness and how much we rely upon the sense of sight.

Credit: Yoga In My School

 

I see Your Light

Instructions: Every person gets a piece of paper taped to their back, and everyone gets a marker or pen. Music is playing and everyone walks around the room at random. When the music stops, each student turns to the person closest to them, and writes a compliment or positive thing about them on the paper on their back. Then the music continues and everyone continues walking. Repeat. When the game is finished, each student takes the paper from their back and gets to read it, take it home, and cherish it.

Notes: Alternatively, this game could be played in a more organized fashion to ensure that ever student gets to write on everyone else’s paper.

Group Knot

Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle and reaches their hands across and holds one to another hand at random, creating a tangled knot of arms. Next, the squeeze test must be passed. In order to do this, on person is chosen to squeeze the one of the hands they are holding, that person then squeezes their other hand to pass the squeeze around. If the squeeze returns to the starting person, it will be possible to untangle the knot without anyone letting go of a hand. If not, everyone must let go and start from the beginning.

If the squeeze test is passed, the students must untangle themselves by working together, communicating, passing over or under each other’s arms, etc.

Notes: Small groups make it easier, and might be the best way to start playing this game.

Benefits: Teamwork, Communication, Cooperation

Meditation Games

3…2…1… Meditate!

Props: None

Instructions: Everyone makes noise (or you tell a joke) and then on when you call out ‘meditate!’ everyone must to meditate as quickly as possible! The last person to sit quietly, meditating, is out.

Benefits: Ability to focus quickly, and to change state of mind quickly and with ease

 

Controlled Chaos Meditation

Props: Anything that you happen to have that you could use to create noise (such as boxes, footsteps, sticks…)

Instructions: One or more students sit quietly meditating. One or more students (and/or the teacher) make a small amount of noise around them, trying to distract the meditator from his or her meditation. Slowly you allow the noise/chaos to grow, until the meditator gives in, or until you have declared him or her successful!

Benefits: Focus and Concentration, Ability to meditate and stay focused within chaotic situations.

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