Encouraging middle school and high school students to move can be a challenge, especially in a classroom setting. Anything high intensity or vigorous may be de-motivating. One suggestion to get them at least moving at a light intensity level is seated yoga.
Below are some seated yoga poses that you may lead your students through to get some stretching and body resistance in for yourself too! Turn off the lights and turn on some quiet, soothing music.
While sitting in a chair:
- Lean head to right shoulder slowly, then over to left shoulder. Repeat 4 times.
- Lean head forward so chin (almost) touches chest. Bring head back up to normal position. Repeat.
- Extend right arm over top of head, leaning toward left wall. Slowly switch and extend left arm. Repeat.
- Bring elbows out to side with hands in front of chest. Twist torso to left and hold. Twist back to right and hold. Repeat slowly.
- Extend left arm straight forward. Take right hand and bend left hand up at wrist, stretching forearm. Complete with right arm. Switch and repeat bending hands down. Repeat.
- Small arm circles forward, then back. Big arm circles.
- Raise one foot off the ground and rotate foot around in clockwise circle, stretching ankles. Switch to counter clockwise. Switch feet.
- Start with back in chair. Bring chest down to meet tops of thighs. Allow arms to slowly fall to floor. Let chin rest of knees. Slowly bring back up and repeat.
Perhaps students would be willing to add poses of their own to create a culture for yoga in the classroom. There are plenty of resources online as well. Additionally, you can find floor mats and light filters from Moving Minds if you’re looking to create a dedicated yoga corner or space in your classroom. I hope these activities bring you some calmness today.
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.