Yoga Story Time Programming Ideas

18 Feb

I began yoga story time about two years ago and it’s been one of the most rewarding story time experiences I’ve ever had.  The kids respond really well to the movements and love copying the poses as I do them.  This also allows children time to be active in between stories which enables the children to focus for a longer period of time during the stories.  This story time is offered during a six-week session for children ages 2 – 5.  I think that 4 and 5 year olds probably do better at this program, but some of the younger children have done really well too.  It lasts a little longer than a typical story time – usually about 45 minutes because I repeat the same poses a few times to the allow the children time to get comfortable with the pose.  I’m not an official yoga instructor, but with a little practice these are very simple moves that you and the kids at story time can replicate.

The benefits of yoga are truly beneficial to kids and adults and it is a great way to get kids active – especially during the winter when heading outdoors is not so easy.  My absolutely favorite part of yoga story time is when I can tell the parents that the kids will lay quietly for 2 – 3 minutes at the end when we complete our relaxation poses.  During this time we lay with our arms and legs spread out wide and I give each child a Beanie Baby to use to practice deep breathing.  They lay, often with their eyes close as I play quiet music and turn off the lights.  This is a magical time because the kids are really involved and it’s usually very quiet – a great way to teach parents about the benefits of yoga as a quiet time activity before nap time or bedtime.  I’ve written up a number of helpful hints, benefits, and even a sample story time below to help you get started.  You’ll also find some great resources that I have used to create my story time program below, but don’t hesitate to message me with any questions you might have – and take a chance, yoga story time is a fun and exciting program to try!

Body Benefits
Yoga is beneficial is so many ways, here are a just a few ways in which yoga routines benefit children.

  • Develop a healthy lifestyle
  • Encourage better sleep
  • Improve digestion
  • Promote gross and fine motor skills
  • Increase listening skills
  • Help to tame tantrums and reduce stress
  • Develop self-esteem

Sample Story Time Plan:

  • Rock ‘n Roll
  • Zip Up Spine
  • Deep Breaths
  • Cat/Cow Poses
  • Downward Facing Dog

Book 1: From Head to Toe by, Eric Carle

Sun Salutations

  • Mountain Pose
  • Reach up high
  • Touch the ground
  • Hands at Knees
  • Plank Pose
  • Cobra Pose
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Walk toward your hands
  • Repeat 3 times

Book 2: Can You Make a Scary Face? by, Jan Thomas

Balance Poses (I modify this section each week to try new poses)

  • Mountain
  • Star
  • Shifting Weight Star pose
  • Falling Star
  • Tree

Book 3: Down by the Station by, Jennifer Riggs Vetter

Relaxation Poses

  • Bridge
  • Happy Baby Pose
  • Star Pose—Deep Breaths with soft music and Beanie Babies (2-3 minutes)

Helpful Hints
These are some helpful hints that I’ve come up with for someone who’s thinking about starting a yoga story time at their own library!

  • Be sure to practice the poses before story time begins.
  • Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, the young children won’t know any better.
  • I use a yoga mat when I do story time and I ask the parents to bring a mat or bath towel to story time to give the kids a sense of boundary.
  • Remember to repeat directions of each pose slowly.
  • Always show the children how to perform the pose.  Young children are great at copying.
  • It can be difficult to teach poses and remember breathing at the same time so I use beanie babies during our relaxation poses to practice breathing.
  • Don’t forget to have fun!

Reliable Resources:
I could never have created a program like this without some great resources!  Here are a just a few I’ve used that have helped tremendously when I began planning for this type of story time.

  • The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by, Teresa Anne Power
  • Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers: 8 Minute Routines to Help Your Child Grow Smarter, Be Happier, and Behave Better by, Helen Garabedian
  • Yoga Motion (DVD) Namaste Kid, 2011

5 Responses to “Yoga Story Time Programming Ideas”

  1. Anonymous February 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    Hi Laura! What a great idea to incorporate yoga into Storytime – I love it! I have a question about what you wear…being as I have to cover the reference desk a few hours after storytime. Do you change, or just do what you can with what you are wearing? Also, do you feel uncomfortable doing some of the poses with parents sitting and watching, (Dads too!), especially for a pose like Happy Baby?! Would love your advice!

    • literacious February 27, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

      Thanks for the questions! I actually change for story time, I find it easier to move around wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt, I also ask that the children wear comfy clothes as well. As for looking uncomfortable, I encourage the parents to either participate with us or to help their child mimic the pose – this focuses the parents on their child rather than me. But, I still feel ridiculous when doing some of the poses! I just focus on the kids and know that the benefits far outweigh my silly looking yoga poses. We’re lucky to have a lot of parents in our area that practice yoga themselves, so they are very supportive of the program!

  2. ahicks2012 October 27, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    Can you provide any more information about what you do during the warm up section? Can you describe “Rock n Roll” and “Zip Up Spine”?

    • literacious October 28, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

      Of course! “Rock n Roll” involves hugging your knees to your chest, leaning forward and then rolling onto your back and back up into a sitting position. A caveat for this one, I always remind the parents to help out the little ones, especially if they don’t have a lot of gross motor controls (don’t want anyone to bump their heads), but the kids love doing it and giggle when they get stuck on their backs! And “Zip Up Spine” is very easy – I have the kids sit criss-cross applesauce and explain that you feel stronger and can breathe deeper when sitting up straight. We first find our bellybuttons – be prepared for little shirts to fly up so they can show you theirs! And then we pretend to zip up our belly to under our chins. I usually give a count, “1, 2, 3, ZZZZIIIIIPPPPP……” and once we get our little hand under our chin, I move both our hands to our shoulders and talk about deep breathing. It helps the kids have a visual of your shoulder lifting up to your ears as you take a deep breath in. Let me know if you have any other questions!


  1. Meet Laura Arnhold, Storytime Guerrilla of the Month | Storytime Underground - February 24, 2014

    […] at the Guerrilla Storytime at ALA Midwinter this past January. She’s recently written a great summary post about her experiences doing Yoga Storytime and resources so you can, too; find …. Laura wanted to be a librarian since she was little, and she’s pretty sure she has the best […]

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