It’s winter and in the midwest the cold has been brutal. I’m sure there’s a cabin fever epidemic brewing. On these cold wintry days, yoga can be just the thing for fun at home, or wherever you’re staying warm. Here are three tried and true games that I use during kids yoga that also work well at home. Strike a pose, have some fun, and before you know it warmer days will be on their way!
Even without adding yoga, this was always a favorite with my kids. Jenga is a strategy game where you create a tower of wooden planks. In turn, each player tries to pull a plank out without causing the tower to fall, then stacks it carefully back on top of the tower. This takes patience, strategy, and concentration. This is the perfect start for a yoga game, it already contains the element of mindfulness.
As the game goes on the tower gets taller and more wobbly. Eventually it falls and everyone yells, “Jenga”. Then you work together to rebuild the tower and play resumes.
Too add yoga, use a permanent market to print yoga poses on the planks. Start with one pose per plank, but you can always add another pose or variations to the other sides. Use pose names your kids will understand like, “snake”, “butterfly”, and “airplane”. You can also add a few “wild” or “yogi’s choice” planks to the mix. If your young yogis aren’t reading yet, draw simple stick figures or picture clues to make the game more accessible. Better yet, have the kids label and add pictures to the planks.
With the poses added, the game starts as it normally would. When a plank is pulled, all participants practice the pose for 3-5 breath together (repeat on the second side if necessary), the plank gets placed on top of the tower and the turn shifts to the next participant.
I’m Thinking of a Pose
With this game, one participant is the leader and the others get to guess. The leader starts with “I’m thinking of a pose…” then describes the pose they want the group to try. The leader should pause after each clue to give the participants a chance to “guess” by moving their bodies into the pose they think is being described. The person who guesses correctly gets to be the leader (after everyone practices the pose together for 3-5 breaths). If no one guesses correctly after a few clues, the leader reveals the pose, the group practices it together, and the leader gets to go again.
So, if the leader were describing tree pose it might go like this. “I’m thinking of a pose where you stand on one foot (pause), you reach your arms in the air like branches (pause), your leg is strong like a trunk (pause), …”
For this game it’s helpful if the kids have some exposure to a few poses. So, you might review a couple of poses or use pose cards for inspiration. If you don’t have pose cards, just draw a stick figures on 3″x5″ cards. If you want to invest in pose cards, I love the “Yoga Pretzel” and “Yoga Planet” cards. They are colorful and sturdy. If you’re in a hurry, there are also some cute printables (for a fee) available online. Kids Yoga Stories has some fun collections and themes.
After all this activity, you might want to quiet things down a bit. This is a tried and true game to ground energy, welcome quiet, and create calm.
Encourage the kids to sit comfortably, they could even recline if they wanted to. Then give them a set amount of time (start with 1 minute) to listen. While it’s quiet, their job is to listen for the quietest thing they hear. Can they hear inside their bodies? Can they hear in the next room? Can they hear outside the house? When time is up, ask the kids to share their discoveries.
You’ll be surprised what they hear, but expect a few silly answers too. If they aren’t sure exactly what it was, have them describe the sound and maybe share a guess of what they thought it was.
The game can be repeated a couple of times, you can even try lengthening the amount of quiet time.
The great thing about all of these games, is that they are easy to start on a moment’s notice. The kids can also play them on their own, but why miss out on the fun?
Want some more ideas for sharing yoga with kids? Check out “3 Calming Breath Practices for Kids“.