The practice of yoga lends itself naturally to the development of language skills. Practicing yoga in a movement based, playful environment can naturally bring about a sense of calm and focus. Language, approached playfully, may then be more spontaneously accessed when needed in daily communication. Yoga can be a supportive tool to support receptive and expressive language skills.
Support Receptive Language Skills
Receptive language is the ability to understand or comprehend language heard or read. Receptive language skills are supported in a yoga practice as children hear instructions while moving their bodies at the same time. Movement facilitates brain function. The movement from yoga helps the child to be better able to process language input.
Play Human Obstacle Course
A fun way to promote receptive language skills is to play a game called “Human Obstacle Course.”
Everyone gets in to a yoga pose of their choosing. That’s right, any favorite pose.
Don’t have a favorite pose? No worries, pick up a children’s yoga book and try a few. Consider Yoga Games for Children: Fun and Fitness with Postures, Movements and Breath or a similar children’s book.
Next, name one child as ‘It’. This child goes in front of, over, under or behind each obstacle. The obstacle is another child’s pose.
The other children hold their poses until the child who is “It” has gone through all of them.
Then, have all the children choose another pose. Select another child to be ‘It’.
While the child named “It” is moving through the course, you can describe what he or she is doing. For example, “Charlie is going under the Dog, around the Tree, behind the Butterfly…”
In this activity, children are moving in a purposeful way while at the same time listening to your descriptions. The two combined will actively enhance receptive language skills.
This is a perfect sensory classroom break too especially when moving into a lesson that requires attentive listening skills.
Support Expressive Language Skills
Expressive language is being able to put thoughts into words and sentences, in a way that makes sense and is grammatically accurate.
Chanting is an excellent way to help children develop expressive communication skills. It helps develop breath control and breath awareness – two key factors in speech production.
Something simple like chanting “OM” three times before a child begins an expressive language task may be helpful.
Explore More >> How to teach children “OM”.
Modify the Human Obstacle Course
Playing the game, Human Obstacle Course, as mentioned above, can also help with expressive language.
As the child who is “It” moves through the “course”, he or she can describe what’s happening instead of the teacher. For example, “I am going under the Dog, over the Table, around the Tree, etc.”
Another variation is to have another child be the “teacher” and give instructions for getting into and out of a yoga pose.
Rest Facilitates Engagement
During periods of relaxation, inherent to the practice of yoga, the brain is able to process and integrate the input received. Relaxation is crucial for building long-term memory of words and sentence structures, as well as, cadence and other nuances of language. Deep rest is needed to facilitate full engagement.
Stress inhibits learning and language processing. Yoga is unsurpassed as a stress reduction technique. Even two minutes of purposeful breathing can calm, soothe and organize the nervous system. Purposeful breathing releases stress while preparing the body and mind to engage in learning and exploration.
Explore More >> Simple Yoga to Reduce Anxiety in Kids
Playfully approach the enhancement of language skills by implementing yoga breaks into your classroom, clinic, or at home. Create an environment of calm to support receptive and expressive language skills.