School life is burdened with tons of tasks, and it barely leaves time to create space for oneself, retrospect, and breathe without having to think of what’s next! Thus mindful scheduling is imperative to keep the student’s mental, physical, and emotional health in check.
Regular breaks, introduction, and encouragement towards the practice of relaxing activities is important as well. Yoga being pivotal in the field of providing extensive scope for improvement in the physical and mental health of an individual needs to be integrated into the lives of students.
This post shall focus on the same by talking about the crucial trends and significance in the adaptation of Yoga, and how can these be inculcated in kids through activities and games.
Yoga Games & Activities: Why Are They Crucial?
Yoga being an inclusive technique in nature offers innumerable benefits to individuals who practice it on a daily basis. However, for students, it gives an added bonus of self-management and self-awareness among the everyday stress they have to go through while figuring out the directives of their life.
Yoga-oriented games and activities involve yoga poses, breathing relaxation techniques, and practicing mindfulness through guidance and eventually by self-actualization.
Mindfulness and balanced physical health can aid in fighting off the effects of mood swings, and anxiety, control the expression of anger and prevent individuals from falling down a negative spiral and instead develop resilience.
In research done by Donna Wang and Marshall Higgins, a year-long yoga program was introduced to determine the perception of students when it came to its physical and mental health benefits.
The results reported by these students involved increased and improved self-esteem, physical conditioning, and even academic performance among which was another noteworthy benefit that the students reported practicing mindfulness and relaxed breathing to direct the outlet of emotions, even “off the mat.”
Few of the additional findings to this study involved recognition of how mindfulness was related to bodily awareness and self-regulation. These aspects tend to work in tandem where if a student paid more attention to each moment, they could obtain the same level of came they would have while practicing mindfulness. Similarly, practicing mindfulness heightened their awareness, allowing them to pay attention to each moment.
List of yoga oriented games and activities
Certified and practicing yoga instructors have stressed enough over the benefits of inculcating yoga in the lives of students through playfulness and associating it with positive feelings and emotions among students to encourage the power of gratitude, strength, and compassion.
So, here are a few games and activities with yoga to help build stronger mental and physical health among individuals by associating yoga with all things positive and playful:
#1 The Yoga Grandma
This activity is a great stress buster for high school students, where fun and yoga combine to allow them to take a break, relax and practice good health at the same time.
- Here, a student will be chosen as the grandma of the class and will be required to face the wall of a hall, and keep their eyes closed, or in the opposite direction of where the other students are.
- Next, these other students will stand side-by-side, forming columned lines, with at least 5 step difference from each other and the first line, at least 15 step difference from the grandma.
- These students now have the task of reaching the wall that grandma was facing without getting eliminated by her, and all they can do is walk by tip-toeing.
- However, the grandma has the option of turning back at any point, and that’s when these students have to hold a yoga pose of their choice and stay in it for at least 30-40 seconds.
- If the grandma finds any student moving, or anybody who isn’t in a yoga pose shall stand eliminated.
#2 Rock, Tree, Dog
Another activity to boost positive association with yoga among high school students, this is a relay race, where the students have to learn these three poses that are also representative of a rock, tree, and dog.
- So the race shall happen between groups of students with each group consisting of 4 students.
- The first student shall run and form the rock pose.
- Followed by that, the second student has to jump over the student with the rock pose, run for at least 5 steps, and then form the tree pose; then the third member shall jump over the rock pose, circle around the tree pose once, and move 5 steps ahead to form the dog pose.
- The fourth candidate will be required to jump over the rock pose, circle around the tree pose and slide underneath the dog pose without disturbing it, moving on to become the rock again.
- Then the first student in the rock pose shall get up, run and follow the steps of the relay until the team reaches the end of the hall.
- Whoever does it first, following all the poses and conditions, shall win.
#3 Balloon Dance
This activity is a comparatively easy one for the kids, but the fun-quotient of the game remains high, as usual!
- Here, the coordinator will be required to blow up as many balloons as the number of students.
- These balloons will have names or figurines of various poses, and they will be pushed up into the air.
- Music will be played, and until there’s a tune, the students are required to keep these balloons afloat in the air only, play with it, and push them toward each other.
- However, as soon as the music stops, the balloon that each student has, will determine the pose that they have to do.
- They will be required to stay in it for 45 seconds at least. If not, they will be eliminated.
- The last student standing shall win the game.
#4 Dog in the Pond
Another interesting yet nostalgic way to engage students in practicing yoga would involve:
- The class is to be divided into two equal groups.
- Each group will be numbered from 1 to X (total no. of students in the group).
- This way, each number will be assigned to two students from either group.
- The teacher will then be required to call out a number, and the students will come out of the groups.
- There will be a handkerchief placed in the middle of them, and the students will have to try and beat each other at picking it up.
- Whoever picks it up shall take the lead to announce a yoga pose that the whole class will be required to do.
#5 Hot Potato
- This activity shall require the teacher to help the students with the awareness of poses that are related to different animals.
- After they are acquainted, the teacher will bring small figurines of those animals, and they will be considered hot potatoes.
- It is impossible to hold a hot potato in your hand for more than 2 seconds, and that’s what the students have to do on the beat of the music.
- As long as the music plays, the students have to pass on the hot potato, and as soon as it stops, whichever student has the hot potato, that is, the animal figurine, they will have to do the pose that represents that animal, as taught by the teacher.
#6 Add One
- This is a memory-strengthening yoga activity where the class will be asked to stand in a wide circle.
- One of the students will initiate this activity by doing any pose of their choice.
- The next student however, will be required to do the pose the first student did and add another pose from their end.
- Similarly, the third student will repeat the first two poses and add one of their choice.
- This shall go on till the last student, and whoever forgets the sequence shall stand eliminated.
- The teacher will be allowed to prompt in case any student finds it difficult to think of a new pose.
#7 Dodgeball Yoga
This is, in fact, a fun-filled yoga activity and can be used with individuals of any age group.
- This activity will again require the students to form a wide circle, and a student will be chosen to initiate the game.
- This student will come inside the circle and will be given a ball.
- They shall announce a pose and throw the ball in the air.
- While the ball is in the air, the other students will have to do that pose before the announcer gets back the hold of the ball.
- After which, if any student is not in the pose, the announcer will have to try and target that person with the ball and hit them.
- Since the ball will be soft, it won’t hurt the students; however, the student who gets hit shall now become the announcer and continue the game.
#8 Train Brain Yoga
This is a relatively relaxing activity to help the students focus on their breath and relax.
- This would require the students to stand in a train-like manner, and the leader of the train to be in the front.
- The leader is responsible for making sounds while the train is running, and the student trail shall follow it. These sounds have to be loud and draining like a woohoo, woo-woo, ooooo, etc.
- Followed by which, the leader shall stop at any time at sit, which will be mirrored by the other students.
- The leader will then give a count for breathing, like 7-4-6.
- This would mean, inhale for a count of 7, hold it for 4, and exhale for 6 counts.
- This way, the leader will keep shifting to the end of the train and the next student will become the leader and follow through the steps of the activity.
#9 Back ChalkBoard
- This is again a muscle relaxation activity after a hectic day for students of older age groups.
- Here , the students will sit in pairs, with their legs crossed, considered as a relaxation pose.
- Then one will turn the back towards the other, and the partner will be required to draw alphabets, letters, words, objects or whatever on the back of the student with their finger.
- The student with their back as the board will then have to recognize the element. After this, the other student shall move their hand on the back of the student, as if to clean the board, this will relax the back muscles of the students.
- The partners shall take turns in doing this activity.
#10 Tug of War
- The activity is supposed to provide relaxation to the students through stretching of muscles.
- In this activity as well, the students will be required to sit in pairs, with the legs wide open, as stretched as they can endure, and the feet of one partner shall touch the inner thighs of the other partner.
- This activity shall also proceed in turns.
- After that both the partners will hold hands and the partner that has their feet firmly placed at the thigh of the other, will try and pull the other partner towards them, much like the rope in a tug of war, while making sure that the form of their partner is not disrupted.
Should Yoga be a part of the school curriculum
A survey done amongst various schools revealed astonishing results when it was found that a total of 36 programs have been identified among 940 schools across the United States, with more than 5400 instructors who have been extensively trained to help students inculcate yoga in educational settings as well.
This shows that modern-day institutions are not just helping students gear up for a future that demands their energy down to every fiber of their being, but also allowing them to learn the art of creating a balanced life, seeking peace and health, and mindfulness at the time.
It is now considered a part of the national educational agenda in the United States to offer students a curriculum that grooms them holistically, including their verbal, social, ethnic, civic, and cognitive development.
A review paper by Andrea Hyde highlights how students should not be considered just a collection of attributes but beings that need to be trained to lead a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Having mentioned that, the myriad of health benefits offered by the practice of Yoga has allowed innumerable individuals to practice it and enter the health industry through Yoga. It was found through a national survey of the U.S. children, a total of 3% of children of the whole child population of the States have started indulging in yoga ever since 2012, that is a total of 1.7 million children, 400,000 more children who used to do yoga in 2007.
This proves that being mindful, and practicing yoga has improved classroom behavior among students, with lower temper tantrums among high school students, more informed decisions and an obvious improvement in their physical and mental health, making it necessary to evolve Yoga as an instrumental part of the curriculum.
With tons of researchers pointing out the innumerable benefits of practicing yoga among high school students, this article also tries to highlight how relaxation is also as important a part as is, students and professional growth.
It shares the evolving trends in the adaptation of its practice and a few activities that can be employed in educational settings to help students relax and associate growth and strength with the practice of yoga.