Children today are under tremendous and continuous pressures. They’ve never known a time without war and school shootings. They’ve transitioned into and out of (and back into) online classes and pandemic chaos. There’s no escape from social media and targeted marketing.
Pressure to be an academic whiz, captain of sports teams, an artistic genius, and have perfect behavior all while also attending school, extracurricular activities, hold jobs, babysit siblings, and find time for extra tutoring has wreaked havoc on our youngsters’ mental and physical health.
All of these stressors are tough for adults to cope with, so how can we help children navigate these chaotic times with empathy and joy?
Yoga, if taught in a playful, kid-friendly way, can be a soothing balm to the stress and strain that children face. For thousands of years, yoga practitioners have harnessed the power of a yoga practice to build mental and physical strength. A children’s yoga program can do the same thing for our youth today.
A child’s yoga class may:
Develop mind-body awareness: Through guided practices like mindfulness and yoga postures, children learn to recognize and honor the cues their bodies send them and explore ways to self-soothe and balance energy.
Improve self-regulation: A yoga practice stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, essentially regulating the stress response.
Build physical fitness: The often rigorous movements of a child’s yoga class build muscle strength, cardiac capacity, and reduce obesity - all while encouraging the love of healthy movement in a non-competitive environment.
Improve behavior and academic performance: According to several studies, “Early evidence is also beginning to show that yoga and meditation might help students be more self-aware (Monshat et al., 2013), manage their emotions (Noggle, Steiner, Minami, & Khalsa, 2012), enhance their relationships (Conboy et al., 2013), and make better decisions (Barnes, Bauza, & Treiber, 2003)”.
Imagine what the world might be like if every child had the opportunity to grow up with guidance in meditation, breathwork and yoga postures! As the Dalai Lama once said, "If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” You can be the yoga teacher the children in your community are waiting for! It doesn’t take circus-level flexibility nor the ability to levitate in meditation. If you love yoga, are imaginative and a bit silly, you are ready to become a kids yoga teacher! And that process has never been more accessible.
Finding The Right Kids Yoga Program
Your path to becoming a kids yoga teacher begins with proper training. Teaching children is not the same as teaching adults, so even if you are a longtime yoga instructor, you’ll need specific education and experience in children’s development, instructional methodology, and a thorough class structure. Behavior management, a library of games, songs, and crafts, and direction in business-building are also crucial components of a strong children’s yoga teacher training.
When examining potential training opportunities, think about what you yourself look for in an effective yoga teacher. What draws you in and keeps you coming back to their classes? Those qualities are exactly what a teacher training should embody.
First, what is the philosophy, the backbone of the training provider?
Is their curriculum based on a particular yogic lineage or educational tenet? And how is that philosophy demonstrated in their materials and methods? It is important that you vibe with the training’s overall viewpoint because that will be infused into everything you learn, and if you don’t believe in it, you won’t be authentic in your offerings. You won’t be happy or satisfied, and your students won’t be either. Specifically ask the training provider what their methodology is based on. If they can’t readily define and describe it, then look for a different opportunity.
Next, you’ll want to find a teacher training company with experience and recognized certifications.
How long has the company been leading trainings? How many trainings have they led and how many people have earned their teaching credentials with them? Also inquire about the experience of the trainer(s) that will lead your training. How long have they been teaching kids yoga and in what capacity? Where have they taught and what age children? What kind of vetting or program do the trainers have to go through before they are allowed to lead trainings? Finally, research the professional certifications the training company holds, as well as the trainers. Is the company certified with Yoga Alliance, Yoga International, or Yoga Unify? Are the trainers? Is the trainer able to provide Continuing Education Units (CEUs)? Your future employers may not require your certification from a recognized yoga school, but many yoga studios and educational institutions do to feel confident in your training background and rigor.
Before deciding on a training program, also closely examine their curriculum.
You’ll want to find a program that is complete - that is one that includes all the hallmarks of a thorough yoga practice.
An effective children’s teacher training should include direct guidance and methods in:
the teaching of meditation
and physical postures (asana)
Which are the obvious components of a yoga class but it shouldn’t stop there. A training should also include direction in weaving yoga philosophy, like the yamas and niyamas for example, into age-appropriate activities.
Examine your budget
What can you afford to spend, not just for the training event itself, but for ancillary tools and materials required by the training company? What does the tuition include? Are there required readings or a manual to purchase? Will you need to pay an ongoing fee to remain an active teacher with the company? There’s no right or wrong amount to pay for a training, but be sure that you are receiving what you expect for your money.
Online or in-person?
More and more companies have fully self-paced online trainings available. If you go this route, what kind of personal support can you expect? Is there any kind of social element to the online option (like virtual live check-ins or social media groups for fellowship or support)? And is that even important to you? If you are seeking a live, in-person training, where is it located? Be sure to take travel and accommodation expenses into account. What are the hours? How many other people will be in the training? How much work are you expected to complete on your own - and how is that content provided? What kind of support can you expect after the training concludes?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular children’s yoga programs:
Kidding Around Yoga: Founded in 2009, Kidding Around Yoga (KAY) claims over 11,000 KAY certified teachers across the world. KAY uses an Integral Yoga-inspired class plan and offers trainings online, in-person, and has a hybrid option. They also have a wide variety of specialty online courses and virtual mini-workshops. KAY has dozens of original songs, in several languages, which is unique among training companies. They also offer their graduates an option to become KAY Licensees.
Cosmic Kids Yoga Teacher Training School: Cosmic Kids is a great choice for someone who wants complete flexibility in their schedule, as their course is presented via downloadable content and training videos. Check them out with a free 30-minute coaching session. Cosmic Kids also offers lesson plans for purchase.
Pretzel Kids Yoga: If you want support in starting and building classes, Pretzel Kids may be a good fit. Once you complete their training, either online or in-person, you can join their direct-booking group. You also have permission to use the Pretzel Kids logo and branding. And with the full course only taking 12 hours, you can complete your training in just a weekend.
Rainbow Yoga: Another company with international trainings, Rainbow Yoga offers online and livestream options, along with 4-day in-person trainings and advanced options, too. You’ll need to complete your course within six months to gain unlimited access to their extra resources.
Little Flower Yoga: A great option for someone seeking a training based more in emotional intelligence and mindfulness, Little Flower Yoga (LFW) promotes their curriculum as building resilience through mindfulness practices. Their trainings can provide graduate level credits and are offered streaming online and in-person. If you aren’t seeking full certification, LFW also has stand-alone courses that anyone can take part in.
You may also want to choose a program that provides an opportunity to earn your 95-hour Advanced Training, leading to the title Registered Children's Yoga Teacher (RCYT) with Yoga Alliance. There are pros and cons to each training style, so the choice really depends on your learning style, budget, and schedule.
It can be a daunting and time-consuming task sifting and sorting through the many, many kids yoga teacher training programs. Just do an internet search for “children’s yoga teacher training” and start scrolling. It’s intimidating! But if you’ve spent the time thinking about the kind of training you are desiring, you can narrow down your options a bit more easily.
Post Kids Yoga Training Graduation
Trainees should graduate with a toolbox of games, activities, songs, stories, crafts, and other kid-friendly teaching methods and with the knowledge of how to authentically include them into a yoga class. You should also expect an effective training program to include a specific class structure, a lesson plan template. This outline will serve as the basis for all of your future lesson plans.
Whether you are wanting to just teach your own children and their friends, or you want to build a kids yoga empire, you’ll want direction and guidance into how to build and run successful children’s yoga classes. Without this complete education, from planning to implementation, you might not feel confident to step in front of a group of young yogis and keep them engaged for half an hour.
Creating Your Program
Once you have chosen your program and earned your empowering title “Children’s Yoga Teacher” upon your training completion, it’s time to decide what you want to do with your newfound skills and inspiration! Consider starting with imagining what kind of program you want to create. What will your classes look like and feel like? And who will be attending? Through your training education and your personal life experiences, you may have an inkling of who your future students might be. Teaching toddlers is a very different challenge than teaching teens, and leading Baby and Me classes isn’t the same as teaching tweens after school. So think about what age group are you drawn to.
What kind of students might you market your classes to?
Athletes, like a baseball team, will probably need a different style class than children in a hospital environment. Tweens with anxious minds in the middle school lunchroom during Yoga Club will require different handling than preschoolers on a playground. You don’t have to choose one group over another, of course, but having a direction is helpful when first starting on your kids yoga path.
What do you want to teach?
(Besides yoga of course). In other words, what do you want your classes to emphasize? Is your style more music and movement or more quiet meditation? Do you envision leading multi-hour workshops or camps, or weekly 45 minutes classes? Maybe you are excited to lead pop up classes at a farmers market or focus on trauma-informed yoga classes with foster families. When thinking about what your classes will feel like, it is always nice to consider what part of the yoga experience you love the most. If you are excited by what you are presenting, if what you are sharing lights you up, you’ll be a more effective and authentic teacher.
If you’re thinking about teaching groups of children with special needs or requirements, you may wish to take some specialty courses that dig deeper into teaching unique populations. There are many options for continuing your education in topics like trauma-informed yoga, accessible yoga, diversity and inclusion, yoga in the classroom, yoga for children with Autism (or ADHD, or other neuro-divers children), and beyond. There are elective classes for teaching children with anxiety and depression, with eating disorders, and teenage mothers. As their yoga teacher, you could be their safe place, their source of calm, so gathering the most tools and techniques you can through continuing education is critical.
Marketing of your Kids Yoga business
So you are certified and have decided what children you want to work with - now how do you get them to come to your classes? Time to market yourself! Start with your own circle of friends and acquaintances? Who already knows you and trusts you? Make a list of friends, parents, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and physicians you already know. This is your warm market. Lead a class for your child’s friends or in your sister’s classroom and you’ll start a following! Be sure to have marketing materials ready to hand out (business cards, brochures, website address, etc.) so they can keep track of your future offerings.
It’s hard to avoid online marketing these days, particularly social media platforms so you’ll probably want a clean, polished website. You can use free resources like Wix or Weebly to set up a site or hire a professional to design and host your page. Also, create Facebook and Instagram pages, maybe even establish your kids yoga business on Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest. Use hashtags, comment on and follow other kids yoga teachers on their platforms. Post classes and special workshops. You can send out newsletters with value-added material and special events announcements.
You can also market yourself directly to facilities and businesses that may be interested in hosting your classes. Reach out to places like:
Montessori or Waldorf schools
Public schools and PTAs
Dance or martial arts studios
YMCAs, community recreation centers, Jewish community centers (JCC)
Stay-at-home mom groups (Mothers of Preschoolers - MOPS)
Day care centers
Birthing centers and hospitals
Coffee shops, children’s specialty stores
Don’t be afraid to think out of the “kids yoga” box! Of course you can offer weekly one hour classes at your local yoga studio, but there are so many more opportunities than that! Here are some examples:
Create a week long summer or spring break camp
Offer three hour workshops for parents to drop their kids off while they go out for dinner
You can have yoga parties with themes like Glow Yoga or Yoga Pajama Party
Family yoga workshops at birthing centers
Special day camps for weekdays when school is out
And what about being hired as the entertainment for birthday parties?
Team up with a local art studio and offer art and yoga events
Any location with children is an opportunity to teach!
Kids yoga is a growing niche in a growing industry. According to TheGoodBody.com, there are 36 million active yoga practitioners in the United States and 300 million worldowide, and that number continues to increase (up 50% from 2012 to 2016). There are 1.7 million children practicing yoga, and that number continues to rise, too! All of these students (and potential students) need yoga teachers! And while it is often challenging to build a following when you first start out as a teacher, with patience, perseverance and creativity, you can successfully teach as a full time job or as a satisfying side-hustle.
Of course, it depends on where you live, the type of facility you work in, and your client population, but currently a yoga teacher makes about $25 per hour to teach classes. However, teaching special events like workshops, trainings, birthday parties, and camps can be more lucrative, often earning $60 per hour or more. Recently, providing online content is another option for your kids yoga business. Creating videos of classes, developing digital content (like games or lesson plans), or writing online courses are work and time intensive to complete but once published and available for sale, may provide a passive stream of income.
A couple other notes about owning and running a kids yoga business.
Besides getting your marketing materials ready to spread far and wide, you’ll want to complete a few other steps.
Name your business and consider trademarking it.
You may need to obtain a business license through your city.
You’ll probably need to be fingerprinted and complete a background check, especially if working with schools.
Consider becoming a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) and file for an Employee Identification Number (EIN) to protect yourself (find application information on the IRS website).
Take CPR and First Aid training through your local Red Cross, local fire department, or community center.
Get insurance. Whether you are teaching in-person or online, not only should you have proper insurance for your own protection, but most venues require proof of coverage before hiring you. Several companies offer insurance for yoga professionals. Check their policies for the number of hours you teach and the amount of coverage you’ll receive. Some companies, like beYogi also provide discounts on other services, inspiration, and continuing education to help you grow your business and your confidence.