Remember the Beanie Baby craze in the early 90s? Chances are that yes, you not only remember the craze, but you are still holding onto your favorite Beanie – or two- or three. Is you Prance the Cat collecting dust on a shelf? Or is Seaweed the Otter stuck in a box somewhere? Well, dust them off and free them from the attic and let’s go to Yoga class! Well, maybe not YOUR Yoga class – you may get a few strange looks if your Bongo the Monkey is in tow during your hot Yoga session – but Beanie Babies are more than welcome in a kids’ Yoga class! Because of their size and ability to stay put, they are the perfect prop for several different children’s Yoga activities.
Balance and Mindfulness:
- Place a yoga strap along a mat. The kids place a Beanie on their heads and walk across the strap, or “balance beam’, while keeping the Beanie in place.
- Choose a few balance asana Yoga cards (dancer, tree, boat, etc.), and place one at the top of each mat. Use a Tibetan bowl, Tingsha bells, or another type of chime to start them off. Kids place a BB on their head and do the balance pose that’s pictured. When the chime sounds again, the kids, still wearing their Beanie on their heads, walk to the next mat to do that pose. Keep going until each child has had a chance to do every pose. This can facilitate an nice discussion about mindfulness and not rushing through poses.
- Drishti Beanie – A drishti is a focal point, something to look at that doesn’t move. Use a Beanie as a focal point for balance poses. Place a Beanie in an area of the room where each child can clearly see it, about eye level. Explain the concept of drishti, and tell kids to look into the Beanie’s eyes as they come into their balance pose.
Pranayama (breathing practices):
- Beanie Belly Breaths: Have the kids lie down on their mats. Place a Beanie on each of their bellies. When they breathe in (through their noses) the BB rises, and when they breathe out, the BB goes back down. This is a great way to teach belly breathing – the visual of the Beanie rising and falling with their breath will stay with them, even when they’re not using their Beanie.
Games and Stories:
- Hot Potato/Beanie: Stand in a circle. Kids pass the Beanie around when the music starts. When the music is paused, whoever has the BB does a Yoga pose of their choice, and then everyone tries that pose. No one is “out” in this version of the game.
- Make up a silly story. Come with a bag full of Beanies and let each kids have a chance to pull one out, making a story up as you go – the sillier the better!
- For the littler ones who can have trouble relaxing at the end of yoga class, let them cuddle with their Beanie. Have them show their Beanie how we relax and lie still.
Asanas (poses and postures):
- Try to come up with ways to incorporate Beanies into some poses. Place Beanie on the TABLE, have a BB sit in your CHAIR or BOAT, take turns having your Beanie go under someone’s BRIDGE.
- Use Beanies as visuals for animal poses. Line a few Beanies up for a brief flow of poses. Have each child make up a pose that represents their Beanie.
Beanies can also be used to ease children’s anxiety. If a child is new to Yoga class,and maybe a little nervous or unsure, a BB can provide them with a little comfort. If you see someone struggling, tell them that your Beanie is a little nervous and needs a friend to do Yoga with, and ask them if they’ll take care of your Beanie during class.
See – all those Beanie Babies can serve a great purpose! Now aren’t you glad you have so many?
P.S. If you don’t have hundreds of Beanies stashed somewhere, check local thrift shops and Amazon – or ask your friends to dig some up for you!