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Topic: Stress reduction and mindfulness


Grade: Elementary School  


Time Period: Forty-five minutes.  


Size and type of class:  Works well with any size group.  


Aim: The aim of this lesson is for students to learn several yoga poses, which provide healthy modes of stress reduction and mental well-being.  A long term goal would be for the student to incorporate mind and body to help attain a healthy perspective on living and body image with an awareness of when the mind and body is under stress, identification of stress sensations, and practice of yoga to assuage such feelings. 


Student Objectives: 

  • To describe what the practice of yoga means to the student and to give at least one benefit of practicing yoga on a daily basis.

  • To be able to use the yoga cards provided in the materials of the lesson plan and to engage in two yoga poses with the ability to analyze how the pose has positively affected their sense of well being.

  • To incorporate into their home routine a simple yoga practice. 



  • (optional) yoga mats, one for each group to work on as they assemble their routines. 

  • Yoga deck– Yoga Pretzels or any other (Tara Guber and Leah Kalish, introduced by Baron Baptiste, illustrated by Sophie Fatus) 

  • Light On Yoga, for teacher reference 

  • Pen and paper or student journal (I think it is a good idea for students to have a mindfulness journal)




  • There will be ten minutes of interactive time in the beginning of the lesson plan spent in the community meeting area with the teacher reading aloud and children being called on to answering didactic like questions in order to assess initial knowledge of subject matter.  The teacher will read a brief introduction from the Light on Yoga book in order for students to get an overview of the practice and origins of yoga.  

    • “The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.  It also means union.”

    • “Om – connects energy into the class”

    • “We are going to use yoga as a breathing and meditative process.”  The teacher opens up the discussion as to what meditation is and how breathing is important in a yoga practice and asks how it may be important in other areas of the students’ lives.  

  • The teacher will guide the discussion in order to make it interactive and get input from the students as to their own individual experiences with yoga and what their preconceptions of yoga are.  The teacher will introduce the pocket yoga cards, which illustrate several yoga poses that the students will be asked to choose from in order to practice in small groups and then to teach the general class. The teacher will conclude the initial meeting with the bunny breath. Students will be asked to sit on the carpet on their shins and to close their eyes.  Students will then be instructed to remain alert, like a bunny, and to take three sniffs through their nose and then to exhale in a long release.  This process will then be repeated five times. The benefits of this exercise will be explained to the students that it is a cleansing breath and promotes the student to feel clear, alert, and relaxed, and, thus, ready to split into groups and to commence their small group assignments.   

  • The students will then break up into heterogeneous groups for a group activity at different tables of approximately four children to each table along with ample space alongside the table for students to move around.  The group will be divided based on the teacher’s prior organization. The group time will last approximately twenty minutes at which time the students will then come back to the community meeting area and share their projects.  During the group period, the teacher will walk around the room to facilitate discussion about the various poses and make suggestions to the students.  

  • When the students return to the designated meeting area, each group will take turns demonstrating their poses that they have chosen from the stack of yoga pretzel cards and discussing with the larger group how they feel the pose can be of benefit.  Each group will present and model two poses to the class.  

  • At the end of the final group meeting, the teacher will ask the students to lie down on the carpet for savasana or corpse pose. The teacher will guide them into a state of relaxation through a progressive muscle relaxation script (see mindfulness exercises) or using a guided meditation of their own choosing or through the recommended books in the references section of this website.  After three-five minutes (teacher can assess depending on how students are doing and age of students) the students will be asked to wiggle their fingers and their toes and to gently roll onto their right side into fetal position and slowly bring themselves up to a cross-legged seated position where they will bring their hands to their hearts center and bow their heads and say, “Namaste,” meaning "the light inside of me bows to the light inside of you." (This further teaches students to be respectful of one another).  This will conclude the in-class portion of the yoga for relaxation lesson.

  • (THIS IS OPTIONAL, but including a handout in students' book bags to go home on yoga and some poses to practice is an excellent way to have the whole family engaged in yoga and mindfulness).  The students will then be assigned a homework assignment, which will reinforce what they have learned in the day’s activities in addition to requiring the student to further research one aspect of the day’s lesson in depth and share with the class.  This homework assignment will include student’s choice of further deepening their practice by taking an in depth look at two yoga poses, practicing them every night, and writing or drawing a “before the pose entry” on subjective well-being and an entry “after” the student has at least dedicated five minutes to practicing the pose.  The students will be permitted to take home two cards from the yoga pretzels deck in order to aid in their practice.  For parental or guardian involvement, the student will then be asked to teach their parent(s) or guardian(s) both of the poses and to describe what the effects of the pose were for them and then the parent(s)/guardian(s) will describe the effects of the pose on them.  This will hopefully open up discussion at home about yoga and its benefits.   


Assessment (THIS IS OPTIONAL):

  • Objective one:  To describe what the practice of yoga means to the student and to give at least one benefit of practicing yoga on a daily basis.  

  • Assessment one: The student will write or draw in a journal the night after the lesson plan as part of a homework assignment what the practice of yoga means to the student.  In addition, the student will identify one benefit or positive feeling or emotion that he/she has felt from practicing yoga on a daily basis.  

  • Objective two: To be able to use the yoga cards provided in the materials of the lesson plan and to engage in two yoga poses with the ability to analyze how the pose has positively affected their sense of wellbeing.

  • Assessment two:  This will be done in the class when the groups reconvene.  Each student will be required to select two poses from the yoga pretzels cards, which also state on the back of the card the benefits of the pose. The students instruct the members of the class from the front of the classroom how to get into the yoga pose and demonstrate the pose.  The student will state what they believe to be the benefits of the pose and explain why they chose to teach their two poses.  The student during this period will act like a yoga instructor.  In addition to the in class assessment of this second objective, students will have the opportunity to reinforce their level of understanding of two chosen yoga poses and its effect on them through their homework assignment as described in the last step of the procedure and in the homework listed below.

  • Objective three:  To incorporate into their home routine a simple yoga practice.

  • Assessment three:  This will be a take home assignment.  The students will be asked to learn two poses that are different from the ones online research with the assistance of parents/guardians by scanning through the literary source section provided at the end of this lesson plan, reflect on their feelings before practicing the pose and reflect on their feelings after practicing the pose.  They will enlist those in their household and teach them the poses.  The hope is that the student will become familiar with some yoga poses and want to learn more, gradually building an arsenal of yoga poses into a home practice.  


Annotated Literary Sources: 


1).  Greenland, Susan K. (2010). The mindful child: How to help your kid manage stress and become happier, kinder, and more compassionate by Susan Kaiser Greenland.  NY, NY: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.  


In this book, Greenland highlights different techniques to help children with stress reduction.  She looks at the benefits of mindful awareness training on kids including the benefits on their academic performance, relationships with others, self-esteem, and stress levels.  This book will be useful for parents or guardians to read in order to gain a better understanding of the enormity of stress levels on children in present day society and to use the guidelines and strategies outlined in the book to assist their children in stress reduction and nurturing a more healthy well-being.


2).  Hoobyar, Hannah. (2012). Yoga for Kids; The Basics. Reno, NV: Hoobyar Enterprises LLC. 


This book is written from the unique perspective of a thirteen-year old girl who has been in yoga practice for five years.  She discusses how she has found solace in yoga when she has been forced to confront many difficulties and challenges in her life.  She uses yoga to calm herself before a test and keep even-tempered.  This book would be very helpful for a pre-teen interested in learning more about yoga as, the author, may prove to be a good role model and mentor.  


3).  Murdock, Maureen. (1987). Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children for Learning, Creativity, & Relaxationby Maureen Murdock.  Boston, Mass: Shambhala Publications Inc. 


This book is an excellent resource for parents to engage children and teenagers into the practice of guided imagery, meditation, and relaxation.  The exercises in this book are practical from children ranging in ages from three to eighteen and, thus, could be a great resource to parents with children of different ages. Studies have shown that meditation and guided relaxation techniques promote more effective learning, lower stress, focus attention and increase creativity in children.  In addition it has been shown to promote improved well-being and coping skills in children with learning difficulties including ADHD, anxiety disorders, and emotional disturbances.  Yoga in many ways is a moving meditation that incorporates various breath techniques in addition to a final relaxation pose, which can be in the form of guided imagery and breath work.  It is beneficial for students to learn such techniques as early as elementary school in order to become primed for future life stressors and to build a foundation in order to cope with such stressors.


4). Chanchani, S. & and Chanchani. R.  (1997).Yoga for Children: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Yoga. UBS Publishers’ Distributors.  


This book is an excellent resource for introducing yoga to children as it goes through the origins of the yoga practice in a manner that is appealing to children as it discusses the roots of yoga in mythology and legend, including stories and tales that bring out the inspiration for many of the yoga postures. Furthermore, the book connects the postures to the natural world, further grounding the yoga practice in terms that are relevant to children.  In addition, the book emphasizes the moral and ethical foundations implicit in the yoga practice; “simplicity, self-discipline, contentment, and truth.” The book is an excellent resource for both parents and teachers as it is detailed, descriptive in how to do the poses, why to do the poses, and the benefits of the various poses.  


5).  Gillen, L. & Gillen, J. (2007). Yoga Calm for Children: Educating Heart, Mind, and Body.Portland, Oregon: Three Pebble Press, LLC.


            This book, like the books listed above, is an excellent resource for both parents and teachers.  It has several illustrations, lesson plans, and a great bibliography to further investigate yoga for children.  It is detailed and provides a guide for introducing yoga into public schools and in therapeutic settings.  Though, parents are not introducing yoga into the classroom, the methods designed in this book could easily be implemented into homework time, study time, and other activities at home that prove to be stressful and require the attention of the child.  


6). Flak, M. & Coulon, J. (2011). Yoga In School, A Primer For Teachers And Parents.  Publisher: Satyanandashram.


            This book is a great book for both parents and teachers as it illustrates approximately thirty poses based on yoga that may be adapted to the classroom or the home environment.  Techniques that can be taught to children in order to foster relaxation, stress, reduction, and mindfulness have been proven in many studies to decrease symptoms of children with ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and increase the overall well-being of children without diagnosable syndromes or disorders.  This book helps to provide such techniques.  

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