There are many benefits to combining yoga with English language education.
In this post I'll focus specifically on the benefits of teaching yoga in English language lessons for children. The ideas I share in this post are based on my experience teaching combined English and yoga lessons to children here in Japan since 2016. I currently teach three lessons a week at a preschool and three children's lessons to pre-elementary and elementary school-aged children at my home studio. I have also taught family and kids' yoga at several yoga studios in the Chiba area.
(1) Making interesting shapes with the body is FUN.
As you can see in the post below, almost any English word can become a movement or a gesture. In English language education there is a fancy catchphrase, "Total Physical Response (TPR)," to describe the benefits of combining movement with language for young learners. A simpler way to describe the phenomenon is - moving the body is fun, and children learn better when they're having fun. In recent lessons on food, I've been teaching poses like, "banana pose," "hamburger pose," and "toasted bread" pose. The sky - that is to say, children's creativity - is the limit. Let kids make up their own poses!
(2) Yoga encourages cooperation - not competition.
Everyone has unique talents and gifts - and weaknesses. In my combined English yoga lessons, students particularly skilled in one yoga pose are encouraged to show other children how to do it, while children with more experience speaking English generously help their friends say what they want to say. This encouragement to cooperate fosters a safe environment where all children have an opportunity to contribute to the team.
(3) Yoga encourages self-acceptance - and self-confidence.
In a yoga lesson, there are many opportunities for students to pause and reflect on how they feel. We learn feelings words like, "happy," "sad," "tired," and "angry," and act these out at the beginning of class, so children know that it's OK to feel any or all of these emotions in the learning process. Awareness and acceptance of these feelings then help them choose behaviors conducive to learning and self-growth. A five-minute quiet time ("meditation" or "savasana") at the end of the lesson also provides a calm, neutral space where children can digest the material they've practiced - and rest.
(4) Yoga offers tools to help with challenging, real-world situations children are likely to face, like giving presentations in English.
All elementary school children taking lessons at my home are required to give a presentation once a month in English. I record the presentation on my phone and send it to their parents. This month children introduced themselves in English. They could choose what they wanted to say, including their name, age, grade in school, likes, dislikes, and what they want to be when they grow up. I believe that by giving presentations in a safe, supportive, non-competitive environment, they are learning how to stand up and feel strong in difficult real-world situations.
Thanks for reading! If you are interested in Kids' Yoga in English, do reach out! I teach lessons online and in-person in the Chiba area. I'd love to get in touch with you!