As a youth yoga teacher, students will come to you during their school day or after a full day of learning. Sometimes dragging thier feet or stomping to class, I always gauge how my students are feeling physically and emotionally to take a 'temperature' of the class. If a student has just woken up from a nap, I wont start off the lesson with a high energy activity, rather a grounding breathwork song. Here are 5 activities & tips to observe your students emotional state that can bring understanding of their inner world for a better yoga class.
Emotional Temperature, 'Thumbmomitor' - I ask students to make a fist with their hand and extend their thumb out. Turning the back of their hand up to the sky, I ask students to show me with their 'Thumbmomitor'. Turning their thumb down for not so great and as far as up to the sky for great! An easy way to gauge your students collective energy.
One Word Intro - During introductions or after breath practice, I will ask students to give me one word to describe how they feel. Even a childs willingness to participate can shed light on their day.
Weather Your Feelings- Ask students to describe the 'weather' in their body. Meaning if you are feeling angry, it could be a tornado or big gray sky. Happy could be a sunshine day with birds chirping. Let students imagination take over!
Ask Students What they Need - Children can be good at advocating for their needs if given the space. Yoga is an amazing place to allow students to vocalize their physical needs, which can be emotional needs as well! Ask your students, "How are you feeling?" "Do you need to run around today or rest?" I always keep guided meditations on my Spotify Playlist for kid yoga. Musical Mats is a great energy burning game for the boisterous ones! Make sure you are taking care of all needs of children who vocalize them to the best of your ability.
Emotions Acting Game - Children have big feelings and sometimes little words to describe them. I like to preface this game by talking with children about what emotions are, how they can impact our behavior and how we can respect our emotions by observing them, not letting them control us. Emotions are normal and intense, especially as a child feeling an emotion for the first time; jealousy, rage, sadness, frustration, annoyed, and bliss to name a few. I ask childrens to act out the emotion being named in their own expression, with reminders to not harm or disturb themselves or others. This is a safe way to see how people express themselves and that emotions good or bad can unite us all.