Boat: Mindful Movement (Yoga) Practices K-5


A K-5 Mindful Movement Practice


Type of Practice: Yoga

Recommended Grade Levels: 3-5


Social Context: Individual

Duration of Practice: 3 minutes

Preparations and Resources


  • One yoga mat per student. 
  • Enough floor space that students can spread out.

Set Up: 

  • Arrange the yoga mats, ensuring that students have enough space to move without bumping into one another. 
  • If you have enough space, consider arranging the yoga mats in a circle so that you can see each student from your own mat. 


Let’s start by sitting comfortably on our mats. 

We’re going to practice boat pose today.

Start by bending your knees and putting the bottoms of your feet onto the mat. 


Now lift your head up toward the sky so that you’re sitting up tall.  

Are you a little taller now than before you sat up straight? Check and see. 

Let’s build the sides of our boats. Lift your arms up so that they’re next to your knees.  

Check out how my palms are faced in towards each other. See if you can make your arms look like this. 


Are you ready to go sailing? 

Start by lifting your right foot off the mat just a little bit. 

Now lift your left foot off the mat too. Feel your stomach muscles tighten! 

Let’s see if we can keep our balance. 

We’re going to try to hold this pose for two breaths. 

As you breathe in, lift your chest up toward the sky.

As you breathe out, squeeze your stomach muscles tighter, keeping your boat afloat!  

As you breathe in, reach your fingertips a little farther toward your toes. 

As you breathe out, relax your shoulders down toward the mat. 


Now gently lower your left foot down to the mat. Now lower your right foot down to the mat. And move back into a seated position. 


    You do not need to read the included script verbatim. Adapt the language so that it is appropriate for your students in particular. 

    It is perfectly appropriate to simplify the breathing cues, particularly when you first introduce the pose to your students. You might invite students to simply count several breaths in the pose, or you might opt to omit them altogether. 

    It is not important for students to get the pose “exactly right.” Instead, focus on helping them build mind-body awareness each time you practice. 

    Offer students positive reinforcements throughout each practice. Focus on qualities and behaviors they can control, like their focus, effort, or persistence. Be specific whenever possible. This will help your students develop a “growth mindset.” 

    This pose focuses on core work. Be sure to follow up with a gentle lower back stretch. For example, you might consider integrating cobra pose into your sequence shortly after boat pose. 


    There are several variations of this posture. As your students begin to gain core strength and feel comfortable in this pose, invite them to raise their shins so that they are parallel with their mats. To help keep your students safe, ensure that they keep their heads and spines straight while their legs are lifted. 

    Once this feels comfortable for students, invite them to extend their feet up toward the ceiling while keeping their chests lifted and their arms extended forward. Invite students to tune into their bodies as they try out this posture. If it feels too difficult, encourage them to bring their toes down towards the mat.

    For younger students, it might be fun to add more boat imagery into your instructions. For example, consider inviting students to “row” their boats, mimicking a kayaker as they move their hands from side to side. 

    Authorship and Provenance

    Authors: Megan Downey and Anna Basile

    Adapted from: Compassionate Schools Project

    Associated graphic