Why Tweens Need Yoga

I was recently approached by a physical education teacher to do a yoga demo for a group of thirty 5th graders. In their weekly Fit Club they had been constantly asking if they could do yoga. The instructor had no background with yoga and felt she needed to seek out a professional for a little help. She contacted the studio and asked that an instructor come to an afternoon session and demo this practice. Since I have experience with children and yoga, I volunteered my spare time to this class.


As I entered the gymnasium at the local elementary school, I was greeted by so many enthusiastic tweens. It was obvious that I was the instructor since I was carrying an armful of yoga mats. These tweens were all ready and lined up to do yoga.

As I handed them a yoga mat, I asked that each of them take off their shoes and socks. The idea of not wearing socks or shoes for a physical practice seemed foreign to them, but when I explained that they would perform better postures, they then followed.

In the beginning of the class, I explained to them the four W’s of yoga. What is yoga? Where did it come from? Who started it? and lastly, Why we practice. There facial expressions had so much curiosity as I explained each answer.

We started out in crossed legged position and we inhaled and exhaled. The rooms energy felt calmer as we each took deep breaths through the noses and out the mouths.

Next,  I kept them in the crossed legged position and we did three rounds of lateral side stretches. Each of them did this pose with such grace as their bodies stretched from one side to the next.

Once we were finished with side stretches, I put them in table top position and we did three rounds of cat/cow. Their bodies flowed naturally through this spine stretching warmup. Once they finished the last round, I put them into downward facing dog and then into mountain pose. From mountain pose we did four rounds of sun salutations, which then lead to warrior 1 & 2 followed by triangle. At this point in the practice I only had about six minutes left of the thirty minute class, so it was time to put them down on the floor into a forward bend, which then lead to a guided savasana. Once they were finished taking savasana, I had them bring their knees to chest and come onto the right side of their body. I brought them back into cross-legged seated position and ended with birthday candle breathing and one long sound of Ohhhhmmazzing!

After the class I offered them coupons to the yoga studio. My heart filled up as they approached me with numerous amounts of questions. One girl asked me if I would come to her house and teach her yoga every week! Another girl asked me how old I was when I started yoga. Lastly, another girl asked if yoga would help depression. I literally almost cried with joy when they asked me all these questions (and more). My response to the girl who asked if yoga would help depression was “If you love yoga then I suggest you keep practicing. By doing this you will become the happiest person you know!” A group of them smiled as my answer gave them a flow of ease. In that moment I sensed that yoga is the best thing a tween can do.

Tweens are at such an awkward age. They are no longer little children and they aren’t quite teens. They are just beginning to enter that awkward phase where their bodies develop and they wear braces, glasses or whatever cosmetic uniform the doctor prescribes. I sensed in the group that they were searching for something deep and meaningful. Why else would they have requested yoga from the start?

This is also an age when they become more self-reflective and notice how different they are from others. Some bully others and others get bullied. Yoga is the answer to the end of bullying. If we can teach the tweens to become comfortable with their bodies, minds and spirits then we can transform the way the youth treat one another. Together, they can change the world one sun salutation at a time!

Fall kids yoga theme!

Tonight kicked off my October series of kids yoga! The weather was in the low 60’s and the leaves were slowly falling, which made  this  the perfect day to create a theme around fall. Here in North Carolina where summers are hot, humid and sticky we enjoy the welcoming of fall. As the leaves fall from the trees and the squirrels gather their nuts, we begin to notice the subtle changes within our bodies and minds as life begins to slow down. Yoga is a great way to connect with the body as well as all things connected to nature. In kids yoga it is best to create themes based around things children are familiar with.

Here is how I introduced the theme.

After warming up the bodies and preparing them for the class, I went around the circle  and asked them which season we were in. Each of them knew it was fall. I then asked them what sort of things represent fall. They answered “leaves turn orange” to “leaves fall from the tree.” As each of them answered the question, I laid leaves and acorns in the middle of the circle. When I was finished I said “do you ever go outside and play in the leaves!? or do you kick the leaves and listen to them crunch!?” I let them answer the question and then we began to pretend we were kicking the leaves.

As we stood on are yoga mats and kicked pretend leaves, I then had the class go in a circle around the room as they still pretended to kick leaves. We made are own crunching and swooshing sounds, which added to the fun of kicking. Had we been outside I would have had them actually kick the leaves. I had them continue to kick leaves and then I added a game. I played music and they circled around kicking the leaves. When the music would stop, I had them go to the leaf pile that I had created and let them each take a leaf or an acorn. When the music came back on they would have the leaf or an acorn to hold while kicking (or at this point dancing around the room). I stopped the music three times, so in the end they were each holding about 2-3 leaves or acorns. They then put the leaves back into pile and we stood tall on are yoga mats.

As we stood tall, I then put them into the tree pose. This was a good opportunity to allow them to sway their branches and let their own leaves fall. As we stood in tree pose the arms would go up and then down. This was a good way to describe the leaves falling from the tree. We also did standing forward bends as a way to demonstrate this as well.  Once we were done standing in tree, I sat them back down on their mats and had them close their eyes.

As their eyes were closed, I placed a leaf in front of each of them. Once they opened their eyes, I had them pick up the leaf and observe it. I then had them blow on their own leaf and watch it blow away from their hands.

Next, I asked them to describe what the leaf looked like to them and each of them had a variety of answers. The answers were as follows: “This leaf is orange and yellow. It has a stick on it!” to “This leaf has blue dots, is orange and fell from the tree!”

When we finished describing the leaves, I went around the circle and said “If the leaf were a yoga pose what would it look like?” Each of them created their own version of leaf pose. Their ideas ranged anywhere from the traditional eagle pose to the triangle pose! This gave each of them an opportunity to create their own yoga pose!

Next, I had them lay on their bellies and face the pile of leaves. We all began blowing on the leaves and acorns. As a group we blew hard enough to watch the leaves blow away just as they would if the wind were blowing on a windy day!

Once we were done blowing leaves, the children turned around and laid on their backs for savasana!

This was a great way to introduce fall by allowing the children to use their bodies, be creative and practice breathing!


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let go and break the code

Moment of gratitude and peace as I connect to the sounds of music guru Jerry Garcia.

Jerry helped birth the funk of getting down and rocking out!

His sounds help the flow of  inner ecstasy.

The young came together and helped the world to become conscious of the need to

“break the code.”


think about it….

Backwards living makes no sense when all that exists is love

I am just like you.

Oh Wait, where does Jerry come into this?


His music allows me to let go and live freely through my heart.

The back and front of the heart

shines when choosing

love over fear.

Intuition knows where to take you.

Listen to it!

It’s the most awakened part of you

so Hug it!

Listen to the inner voice of love.

Love becomes beauty then

Beauty becomes something of

your wildest dreams!

Bring what is inside

into manifestation.

Let it shine bright!

Out your ego

Out your fear!

Those two are

one and the same.

let it go and break the code!

When we come together to practice this

we come together to understand

one another.

Free Write Exercise

                                                                            Photo manipulation done by Marybreath

1. Inspire yourself to write

2. Turn on some good tunes and listen

3. Listen to your intuition. What does it want to say? How does it speak to you? Where is it coming from?

4. Cut seperate pieces of paper and then write single phrases or words.

5. Put pieces into a hat/bowl

6. Write poem using the words

7. Repeat step 2 & write something totally amazing!

Blogtalk Radio!!!

                                                                                      Photo by Marybreath

Hey friends! Check out my interview with Kim from Evolving Spirit! A great conversation about kids yoga to childhood to yoga off the mat! Listen to this inspiring conversation!!!


Mary beth