Almost any young child loves to imitate animal sounds and behavior. Luckily, there are so many yoga postures with animal names that creating songs and stories about animals is easy! I decided to try incorporating animal sounds into a sun salutation and came up with what I call Sound Salutation. It follows a common sequence for sun salutation and allows the teacher to guide the movements without saying a single word. Instead, I pre-teach the animal sounds and movements, then call on the class to watch and listen carefully because they have to remember which sound goes with which movements.
Here is the list of movements in order:
First, clasp hands together to make the elephant trunk, then make an elephant sound as you toss your trunk up into the air. Hang down to the ground in rag doll pose for gorilla and reach from side to side as you make gorilla sounds. Then jump or step back to downward dog and bark. Lower the knees into cow and moooo! Round the spine and meow like a cat, then arch the spine and moo again like a cow. Straighten the legs into dog and bark, jump or step forward into gorilla and make the sounds as you reach from side to side. Finally, clasp hands together and trumpet like an elephant as you toss your trunk up in the air.
I created and taught this salutation for the first time just a few days ago and kids followed along, completely engaged in the task of mimicking the animal sounds and movements. I’ve found that sometimes sounds and copy-cat type activities make more sense to kids than verbal explanations. As I mentioned before, I taught the individual sounds with their accompanying movements before we entered the flow of the salutation. With one group that had trouble focusing, I played Simon Says with the sound-movement combinations to test and see how well they knew each one. We did three rounds of the salutation and by the third time, most kids were riveted! It was a nice change from Sargeant Salutation (which kids also love!) and this animal version inspired them to remember the postures in connection with the animal theme.
The nice thing about the Animal Sound Salutation is that you can use it along with Jogging through the Jungle or other animal-themed songs, games, or stories. I used it in a class about animals in general and we did some bird postures (pigeon, heron, eagle) to build up to the grand finale of the crow, which we did to Haris’ song on the posture from the album Namaste ‘n Play.
Try the Sound Salutation and modify it as you see fit. I hope you have fun and also make up some of your own animal sound salutations, too!