Yoga Class for young dancers

Hi all,
I have been asked by my employer to teach a brief yoga class to young dancers (10-16) at a dance intensive program. This class is only 30 minutes long, and I have been asked to stick pretty strictly to the asana element of yoga, maybe throwing in some basic meditation and/or pranayama (my employer really doesn’t care about yama or niyama or any of the other limbs, and most of the girls would probably not be very receptive to these ideas anyway; they are there to develop their physical bodies, and most are not mature enough to realize that the other elements of yoga are just as important as the asanas). The point is, the class is too short and meets too infrequently for me to get into anything very deep, ESPECIALLY since these girls (and a handful of boys) are so young.

I know there are all kinds of things that are not ideal about this situation… However, I’d really like to give these kids as much as I can in this practice since I’ve already agreed to do it, so I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions. Dancers tend to be very flexible and aware of their alignment in postures, but lack the strength for MANY asanas - and while I would like to address this and try to help them build strength, I also have to keep in mind that this is a half-hour class, held near the end of a VERY long and intense day of dancing.

So I guess my question is: If you were in my shoes (with all these crazy parameters and limitations), what asanas would you be sure to include in this practice? Would you bother beginning with sun salutations and a few warriors, or move directly into other things (more balancing poses like tree, eagle, or even crane and/or headstand preparation) since everyone in the class will definitely be warmed up and ready from their day of dancing? I’d also really like to give the practice some semblance of flow, and probably end with five minutes of relaxation…

Thank you for taking the time to read this crazy post, and I look forward to your helpful replies!!

Helpful replies? HA! :slight_smile:

First I think the TEACHER needs to realize it’s 30 minutes. Put another way, “Do you hear yourself?”. No matter what the task, reasonable expectations are warranted. I mean what really can be accomplished in 30 minutes?

That having been said, with just a little tongue in cheek, no I would likely not do Surya Namaskar and Warrior postures. Surya Namaskar requires massive amounts of teaching. After all, in the classical version there are 11 postures. Vira II might be nice at some point through Vira I with the hypermobile bodies (assuming they are) would be a nightmare of lumbar compression and you’d be flitting all over the room trying to redirect the actions in a safe manner (no?).

I would likely teach a generalized practice and might focus on inversions since it’s the less likely thing to be attended in their living - as opposed to back bends, forward bends, standing, and twists which they are likely doing ad nauseam.

But in the bigger picture its still 30 minutes and one can either teach many things poorly or teach a few things (somewhat) well. I would use care in selling them sort in that they aren’t interested in something beyond the physical. Most adolescents are far more savvy than most “adults”. Just give them an experience of the practice as you know it. The nuts and bolts probably don’t matter all that much.

Thanks for the swift reply, Gordon. I think you have replied first to every single one of my posts since I joined this forum…

I appreciate a lot of what you said in your post - especially about the inversions and doing things that would be a nice complement to their dance training. I do realize that the classes are only 30 minutes, and that not much can be accomplished, but I really don’t want to take that attitude myself, since dancers tend to be very attuned to the energy that a teacher gives off; if I’m engaged myself, they will be MORE engaged, and I don’t want to approach the class with the attitude that what we’re doing is somehow pointless, or that they should take nothing from it. I guess my point was that I want to give them as much as I can with the (yes, I admit it) extremely limited situation…

I suppose the same can be said for trying to introduce other elements of yoga - if I present it as something important and beneficial, they will be much more receptive. So thank you for pointing that out!

Om Namah Sivaya, OmNamahshivaya,

You’ve said “infrequent?” How infrequent? The length of the class is not as important as how often and for how long? And age really does not matter. I mean, teenagers and young adolescents are ripe for yoga.

For three years I taught young professional dancers of the same age group, theater people too, and in my experience I will say, without doubt, the number one thing they need help with is their breathing. Anything! For example, abdominal breathing, regulating inhalation and exhalation with a count, emphasizing complete exhalation. Perhaps one, short round of kapalabhati with one short retention, followed by two minutes saravasana. Then shoulderstand, plough, fish, forward sitting head-to-knee, and final relaxation. Done! You can do that in 30 minutes easy. Of course start with one or two minutes of sarvasana.

And oh yea, your employer is right. Stick to the hatha and avoid the philosophy. You can work that in subtly, here and there, during the workout, AFTER all the instruction is done and you’re just practicing. That’s when they will be most receptive.

That’s what I’d do.
good luck,

Great advice! Thank you!

The class meets everyday, but it is infrequent in that I will not be the only instructor, and many of the other “yoga teachers” are actually just dance instructors who plan to teach a stretch class - they are calling it yoga basically to sound cool… I really have not even been told how many of the classes I will be teaching, just that I will be teaching…

Om Namah Sivaya,

You can still introduce abdominal breathing, and the concept of active exhalation/passive inhalation. You can build up to kapalabhati after they have demonstrated good control, but even then, just introduce it lightly, like graduation. It makes them feel like they have accomplished something. And you can mix in some asanas, throw in a half spinal twist, child’s pose etc., but nothing strenuous like warrior. That core of shoulderstand, plough, fish, forward bend will warm them down and quickly bring them into a very relaxed state, one they will notice. Try to get in as long a final relaxation as you can, at least 5 minutes. That is also very important since they will have already been dancing before.

cheers and good luck,

[QUOTE=OmNamahShivaya;32654]… and I don’t want to approach the class with the attitude that what we’re doing is somehow pointless…[/QUOTE]

Agreed. My point was not to throw in the towel. My point was to understand that you likely will not be providing enlightenment in 30 minutes, accept the time limitations and other constraints, then plan the class from that perspective WITHOUT losing your mojo.


So I guess my question is: If you were in my shoes (with all these crazy parameters and limitations), what asanas would you be sure to include in this practice?

Thank you for taking the time to read this crazy post, and I look forward to your helpful replies!![/QUOTE]

I’m kind of in your situation. I teach “cool down” yoga (?) in the gym after zumba class:) 30 minutes stretch. They want just stretch and slow down the heart rate, and yoga can provide great asanas for deep and gentle stretch and relax after zumba.

For kids I would do some fun poses like crane, camel, dog, something they can visualize. I just want to note about pranajama. Some pranajamas are not recommemded for children (like kabalabhati). Also, children do not concentrate well, so I would not hold pose for long.


Than what timeframe would be necessary/enough to achive that goal ? :slight_smile:

Regarding this, I’m with Blizzard. [I]The game will be released[/I] … w[I]hen it’s done[/I].

Hello Hubert
I have never tought Yoga for dancers but I have benn dancing a lot, I think that for dancer woud be very useful any kind of balance asanas, lots of backbands, and forwwardbends variations with legs apart also “pigeons” and “crescent moon”, Anjaneyasana and variations , they will like that , I think, xxx


Kapalbhati is first of all a kriya, which when practiced mildly can instill awareness about the effect of breathing and breath control, and most importantly provide some understanding of what complete exhalation is, which many young people do not experience. I have done this will children as young as 10 and young teens who were quite physically fit, as well as analoma viloma with remarkable success, however I had them 5 days a week for 1 hr. 15 minutes for a period of four weeks and was able to gradually introduce the process. So I do agree and acknowledge, I would not suggest anyone to do the same without the right time frame, extensive training, practice and a high degree of care, but in the right situation, it can provide experience and insight into yoga well beyond the “poses.”

thank you,


Kapalbhati is first of all a kriya,

thank you,

I thought that pranajama is a kriya to clear the nadis. Is it?


Also true, but to varying degrees. Kapalbhati and other kriyas primarily eliminate waste from the body. Yes, pranayama cleanses the nadis.


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