The image of a butterfly is the PERFECT symbol for a children’s yoga class. Think about it for a second. Our little ones start out as little eggs (infants), begin to crawl and explore (caterpillars), and then continue to change and grow into beautiful butterflies (adolescents and beyond). Within each stage is beauty and strength, change and growth. Explore butterflies through a theme-specific yoga practice!
Breathing: Butterfly breath is a simple way to encourage slow, mindful breathing, while also working on flexibility and imagination! First, sit in butterfly pose (sometimes called cobbler). In this pose, your legs are your beautiful butterfly wings. On the inhale, lift your knees up and together. On the exhale, slowly drop your wings back down toward the floor. Repeat several times, reminding kids to sit up tall. On the inhale, you might ask, “What color is your butterfly’s wings?” and on the exhale, the kids could share their answers out loud, all together. Or, if the class isn’t too large, give each person a chance to answer individually while everyone else exhales silently.
Poses: Explore a butterfly garden with a few theme-specific postures. Create a story incorporating the following poses, using several sensory details.
Meditation: Pompom Poppers: Cup your two hands together, palms up, with a pompom in the bowl you’ve made. Your hands are now butterfly wings and you are going to pop your butterfly egg into the air and catch it with your wings inside out. Gently toss your pomom into the air and flip your hands so the palms are down. Catch the pompom egg with the bowl the back of your hands have made. Then toss the pompom again and flip the hands back to the original bowl, palms up, and catch the pompom once more. Repeat as long as you’d like. You have to pay close attention to your hands, the pompom, and how hard you toss it.
Game: Caterpillar Race: One person is the Leader. Once play begins, she will announce one of three poses (butterfly, tree, child). The rest of the class lines up on the opposite side of the room. When the Leader says “Go!”, the players come into downward dog and walk their hands out to plank, then their feet forward to downward dog, and then hands forward to plank. They are walking like caterpillars, trying to get across the room. Whenever she wants, the Leader shouts a pose name (again, either butterfly, tree, or child). Then the players must stop their caterpillars and freeze in the pose the Leader chose. After a brief hold, the Leader says, “Go!” again and the caterpillars start crawling. The Leader can stop them as often as she wants by yelling a pose. The first caterpillar to get to the other side wins and switches roles with the Leader.
Partner Pose: Butterfly Buddies: Partners sit face-to-face in butterfly pose. Each reaches forward to grasp their partner’s hands or wrists. Then, while carefully communicating with each other, one partner leans forward, being gently pulled by the other partner leaning back. Then switch positions with the first partner leaning back and the other being gently pulled forward.
Want more butterfly-themed ideas for your yoga classes? Check out the Kidding Around Yoga blog!