Engaging Yoga Games & Activities in Physical Education

Infusing yoga and other flexibility-type activities play an essential role in delivering physical education content and can be very popular with students. Yoga is a unique activity that is personally challenging for students — teaching self-control, self-discipline, flexibility, strength, balance, and focus, all while holding a pose or going through a sequence of postures. 

With all this said, some students may struggle to connect to the activity at first if not allowed the opportunity to explore yoga in a playful manner or through playful experiences. One way to accomplish this is to begin the lesson with an engaging opening game or challenge. I found I would receive more buy-in from students to then embrace the calmer nature of yoga that typically came later in the lesson. Here are a few of my favorites that you can infuse in your program and adapt for any level:

Yoga Warm-up Games & Activities:

Half Court & Back Dynamic Warm-up with Yoga Pose 

  • Hang these signs on one end of your gym or activity space. Students partner up, groups of four can share one sign. Partner A goes to half court and back with a specific locomotor movement (the top move in each pairing listed) while Partner B holds the listed yoga pose (the bottom move in each pairing). When Partner A returns from half court, partners exchange a high five and switch. They move through each sequence at least once, if not more, as you play a warm-up song. 
Down-Back-Dynamic-w_-YOGA-Stop

Rock, Tree, Bridge Relay Race:

  • A fun relay race for students. See these videos for an example: Video 1 and Video 2 – Note: In Video 2, I feel the players stand too close together; however, the explanation is stronger. Modify for your student ability levels. 

Tree, Rock, Bridge – Video 1

Rock, Tree, Bridge – Video 2

Yogi or Yogini Says (like Simon says)

  • Teacher or student leader says commands. Students follow.
  • Do the pose if the leader says, “Yogi says” or “Yogini says” before the command. 
  • Do not do the pose if the leader does not say, “yogi says.”
  • Example: “Yogini says Mountain Pose,” and all students do Mountain pose. 
    • You do not need to use this as an elimination game, encourage students to see how many points they can win personally as a fun warm-up. 

Musical Spots Yoga: 

  • Move around the room with locomotor movement during music. 
  • When the music stops, find a spot and do a yoga pose.
  • Can take away spots like musical chairs or use for formative feedback.

Gopher’s YogaDotz are perfect for this activity. Once students get to the spots, they must perform the yoga pose.

Mirror Yoga

  • This is a partner activity. Face your partner.
  • Partner A chooses and performs a pose.
  • Partner B mirrors this pose and tries to name the pose. Partner A lets them know if they are correct.
  • Count and hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Switch roles and repeat process.

Create A Pose Challenge:

  • A leader (teacher) calls out names of a few body parts.
  • All players (including the leader) must make ONLY those body parts touch the floor to create a new pose or shape.
    • Example: “1 foot, 1 knee, 1 elbow” – students put those parts in contact with the ground to create a new pose or use a pose they know that fits.
  • Can also play in pairs or small groups where students take turns being the leader and they work to create their own new poses.  

For more on tips on how to incorporate yoga into your physical education program, check out these other Gopher blogs: 

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Continue the conversation…

What are your favorite yoga tips and resources? Share with the #PhysEd family in the comment box below or on Twitter! @JessicaShawley @GopherSport #physed #yoga #mindfulness 

Jessica is a Physical Education Teacher, NBCT in Moscow, Idaho. She is the 2012 National NASPE Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, a National Board certified Physical Education Specialist, and served on the SHAPE Idaho board for over 7 years as President, Conference Manager and District Representative. She has and continues to travel the country providing professional development workshops and keynotes on a variety of topics.

Jessica is a Physical Education Teacher, NBCT in Moscow, Idaho. She is the 2012 National NASPE Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, a National Board certified Physical Education Specialist, and served on the SHAPE Idaho board for over 7 years as President, Conference Manager and District Representative. She has and continues to travel the country providing professional development workshops and keynotes on a variety of topics.

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