Most all Jewish folks know the tune “Hava Nagila.” If you don’t remember the words, you’ll definitely remember the rhythm of the song. And if you’re not Jewish, you’ll catch on really, really quickly! Kidding Around Yoga made a delightful Yoga spin of this song: Yoga Nagila.
This song is a blast and you can use the recorded song or sing the words aloud. As you sing “Yo-ga Na-gi-la Yo-ga Na-gi-la” you hold hands and grapevine around in a circle. Music gets faster over the course of the song and at certain points will slow down for Chair Pose and for a silly time to wave our fingers in the air like a conductor would do. We have free dancing time, as well.
I love bringing this song in specifically when I teach multi-generation Yoga workshops. Last summer I taught Yoga at a “Grandparents and Grandchild” weekend in Wisconsin. Grandparents and grandkids of all ages came together for a weekend of fun while parents got to have a weekend alone! Doesn’t that sound glorious?
Beyond the song, I’m writing today really to share about the importance of multi-generational Yoga, regardless of culture and faith. When human beings of any age get time to move, stretch, sing, and groove together, they connect in a genuine way! Grandparents get to see grandkids learning new poses. Grandkids get to see grandparents moving in ways they might not have moved in awhile. Both the elder and the child are gifted with the opportunity to connect through being silly and meaningful. The experience is rewarding for all involved.
And of course, yoga is accessible to all bodies! Grandparents can sit on a mat, stand and clap, or sit on a chair and still be a part of the enjoyment and activity of the experience. By providing activities such as Yoga Nagila, grandparents have the previous knowledge of the song “Hava Nagila” and thus, feel like even if they can’t “bend into a pretzel” as they often say, they can still fully participate. The safe and friendly structure provided by a Yoga workshop welcomes old and young alike to “come as they are” with no need of being better, different, or more than they are.
Sometimes I see that it’s a challenge for grandkids to understand all the wisdom and magic their grandparents can share with them. Grandparents can offer big picture thinking that is such a gift to their little ones. Through integrated activities such as Yoga stories, the talking stick circle time, and partner poses, the workshop itself can be a method of revealing to grandkids the magic their grandparents hold. Grandkids, too, are invited to share their hearts so sweetly with grandparents during these times. And often at workshops like this grandkids feel supported and safe enough to share their own wise words; words that they often keep hidden when they are around peers.
Whether you are teaching to a multi-generational group of a certain faith or not, there are so many ways to welcome both the old and young! The first MUST is that all the activities you lead have got to be fun for all ages. So don’t just teach to the little ones (unless you plan on having the older folk simply sit and watch, which can be done. But trust me, it’s not as rewarding for you or fun for them). And don’t just teach to the older set (because you might assume they can do a lot less than they actually can!).
Another MUST is to lead a lot, a lot, of group or partner activities such as partner poses, partner or team Toe-ga (picking up pom poms with your toes), team Yoga stories, and of course invite grandkids to cuddle up next to their grandparents during Savasana at the end.
I invite you to ask the question of “What was one thing you learned from your grandparent/grandchild today during our workshop?” during the talking stick circle at the end. Think of how you would have liked to have fun with your grandparents! Think of how you’d like to have fun with your grandkids, if you have them! So much meaningful connection awaits you and your students, both young and old.