Adding yoga to physical education is an excellent way for students to learn about and experience the various benefits of yoga and mindfulness. Yoga movements and poses can help students learn about their bodies and understand how to move with proper alignment and posture, as well as improve strength, flexibility and balance. It also has the added benefit of helping students focus and concentrate on the task at hand, allowing them to stay engaged in the class. Additionally, yoga can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels in students, making them better able to deal with challenging situations both in and out of the classroom.
This blog post will explore the benefits of providing yoga classes in a physical education program and provide guidance on how to successfully integrate it into your curriculum. I will also highlight 20 yoga poses that can be implemented in class lesson to help students practice their mindfulness skills while having fun. These yoga poses are perfect for students of all levels, whether they're beginners or experienced yogis. They work well as part of a warm-up routine, cooldown session or focused lesson.
Pic by Bo Phillips @Bo Phillips10
What are the benefits of implementing yoga in PE?
1. Yoga Improves Muscle Strength, Flexibility and Balance – Yoga helps to build strength, flexibility and balance in all students, regardless of their physical abilities. It is not only a great form of exercise, but the health benefits are outstanding.
2. Yoga Helps to Develop Focus and Concentration – Practicing yoga in class can help students to focus better on their tasks, as well as increase their overall concentration levels. It is great for helping them in their academic pursuits.
3. Yoga Enhances Stress Relief – Overall, students who participate in a yoga class report lower levels of stress and anxiety, allowing them to stay engaged and focused during the school day. Not only can Yoga serve as a means of relaxation, but it can also act as aerobic exercise by raising students' heart rates for a specific amount of time.
4. Yoga Increases Body Awareness – Yoga poses and movements can help students become more mindful of their bodies, teaching them how to move with proper alignment and working on any area they may have trouble with.
5. Yoga Provides Opportunities for Group Interaction – Yoga is a great way for students to interact with each other as well as with the teacher, fostering team building skills.
Will incorporating yoga classes in physical education help cover standards?
Not only is learning yoga beneficial for students, but it also helps to cover important standards. By focusing on building strength, flexibility and balance with yoga poses, teachers can be sure that they are incorporating all of the necessary components into their lesson plans. The yoga movements and poses highlighted in this blog article directly match-up with SHAPE America Standard 2 which states: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.*
How can I incorporate yoga into a PE lesson?
Now that you know some of the reasons why incorporating Yoga into physical education is beneficial, let’s look at some tips for successfully implementing it:
Start out slowly - Don’t expect students to be experts at yoga right away! You are not teaching power yoga or yin yoga right away! Provide simple poses and step-by-step instructions so that they can learn gradually through regular yoga practice. Explain how each pose can help improve physical fitness, mental focus and relaxation.
Incorporate Yoga into warm-up and cool-down activities - Focus on poses that improve flexibility through physical activity, such as Child's Pose, Mountain Pose, Downward Dog, or an Upward Dog Stretch.
Consider different levels - Not all students will be comfortable with the same poses. Consider providing options for different levels of difficulty so that everyone can participate at their own level. The key to teaching yoga is working with the students in front of you.
Pic by Bo Phillips @Bo Phillips10
Set a positive atmosphere - Make sure to create an environment where students feel safe and supported while trying yoga poses. Allow the students to move freely through each pose. Use yoga mats if possible. Provide guidance only if they show difficulty with a certain pose. Make it fun!
Teach proper breathing techniques - This will help the students learn to relax their bodies and mind during yoga practice. Encourage the students to practice mindfulness through deep breathing exercises. Have them focus on their breath, how the pose feels, and how it benefits their body.
Give feedback - Offer supportive feedback and corrections as needed so that students can learn proper technique and form. In addition, foster a sense of connection and support between classmates by encouraging them to help each other out. If you want to be even more helpful, get guidance from a certified yoga teacher to help you with your lessons.
20 Yoga Movements and Poses for Physical Education Classes
Yoga is an excellent way to supplement physical education activities and create a more holistic approach to learning. Below are 20 yoga postures that can be used in a PE class yoga workout.
Assign these yoga activities to your students as solo tasks, or have them work in pairs or small groups where they take turns teaching each other (on a yoga mat if possible) at designated stations around the learning area. The activity can also be done by the entire class as one large yoga session with a teacher leading the instructions.
1- Basic Poses (Level 1)
Child' Pose- Sit back on your heels and roll your midsection forward. Bring your forehead to rest on the ground in front of you. Stretch downward and extend your arms in front.
Mountain Pose- Stand tall with your feet together. Keep your shoulders relaxed and raise your hands over your head with your palms facing each other. Reach up high.
Upward Dog- Place your hands on the floor alongside your body. Keep your elbows in close and press down through your hands. Straighten your arms and lift your torso slightly off the floor.
Easy Pose- Sit and cross your legs in front of you. place each foot beneath the opposite knee. Fold your legs in toward your torso and place your hands on your knees.
Downward Dog- Start on all fours and walk your hands a few inches forward. Curl your toes under and slowly press your hips up toward the ceiling. Bring your body up into an inverted V.
2- Basic Poses (Level 2)
Bridge- Lie on the floor with your knees bent directly over your heels. Press your feet into the floor as you lift your hips up off the floor. Push your arms downward.
Triangle Pose- Extend your arms out to your sides and bend over your left leg. Move your left hand towards the floor and extend your fingertips of your right up to the ceiling.
Cobra Pose- Lying facedown on the floor, tighten your core and push your hips downward.
Press your shoulders down and raise your chest toward the wall in front of you.
Warrior Pose- With your legs apart, turn your left foot out 90 degrees and your right foot in slightly. Extend your arms out to the sides and bend your right knee to 90 degrees.
Head to Knee; Forward Bend- Sit down and bring the sole of your right foot to the inside of your left thigh. Hinge forward from your hips and fold over your left leg. Extend your arms forward.
3- Intermediate Poses (Level 3)
Boat Pose- From a sitting position, lean back and slowly raise your legs up and off the ground. Stretch your arms out towards your feet and hold the position.
Salutation Seal- Sit comfortably with your legs crossed in front of you. Bring your palms together and press your hands firmly against each other. Keep your chin in close to your body.
Tree Pose- Shift your weight onto your right leg and place the sole of your left foot inside your right thigh. Bring your hands in front of you in a prayer position with your palms together.
Seated Twist- Cross your left foot over the outside of your right thigh and bend your right knee. Place your right elbow outside your left knee and your left hand on the floor. Twist your body.
Low Lunge- Take a giant step forward and bend your front knee to 90 degrees. Keep your front shin upright to the floor and place your arms straight up over your head.
4- Advanced Poses (Level 4)
Cow Face Pose- Sit down and bring your right leg underneath your left leg. Reach your right arm down your upper back and cross your left arm around and up from your lower back. Hold the pose.
Crow Pose- Press your palms to the floor and walk your feet forward until your knees touch your arms. Bend your elbows and lift your heels up and off the floor. Toes stay on the floor.
Pigeon Pose- Bring your left knee between your hands and place your left ankle near your right wrist. Extend your right leg behind you and balance your weight evenly.
Lotus Pose- Sit down and bend your right knee toward your body. Lift your left ankle up and across to the crease of your right hip. Cross your right ankle over the top of your left shin.
Bharadvaja's Twist- From a sitting position, shift your weight to your left side, then bend your knees and bring your legs to the right. Twist and hold your upper torso to the left.
Yoga is a great way to incorporate physical exercise and mental relaxation into physical education. It can help students build strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and focus while engaging in mindful breathing practices. Implementing yoga poses can also be a fun way to provide variety to PE classes. To begin incorporating yoga into PE classes, it is important to start with basic poses (Level 1) and gradually progress to more difficult poses (Level 4). It is also important to provide detailed instructions on pose alignment, teachings on breathwork, and offer modifications as needed. I have provided a list of 20 Yoga poses and movements that can be used in PE classes. With these simple tips and poses, you can easily incorporate yoga into your PE classes to benefit your students both physically and mentally.
Thank you for reading this blog post on implementing yoga into physical education! These tips and movements hopefully give you a starting point for your own PE classes. Namaste Yoga teachers!
*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author.
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