Everybody, especially kids, love dragons. I mean, dragons are so cool! What’s not to love? They are humongous, shiny, scaly, and colorful. They have horns and huge nostrils that breathe fire! The appeal is definitely a “DUH!”. I dare you to ask any kid. Take dragons and put them with yoga, and you have got yourself a really cool (or hot?) class!
The perfect pranayama, or breathing activity, to do in this themed class is FIRE breath! When you practice your breath-work with kids it is important to note that care should always be given. That said, you can encourage them to take a deep breath in, fill their belly then fill their nose. Do this on a count or claps so that they can visualize the air moving in their bodies. Then, tell them, “FIRE!” and encourage them to exhale from their nose as if they were a giant fire-breathing dragon. Tell them to imagine orange flames coming from their nose. Imagine that the orange and red represents all our energy and we want to heat up the room. This is also great for training kids to blow their noses. (For more ways to breathe like a dragon, check out this blog).
Do a modified dragon series for strength and flexibility! Instead of practicing any warriors or pigeons in this class, take your students/kids through the dragon series. Starting in a high lunge, place hands on the mat and breathe. On the next breath, lower to a low lunge by placing the back knee on the mat, then place hands alongside the front foot. Next, breathe again and on the exhale, encourage your kids to let their knee drop outwards while they place their hands (not elbows as such in an adult yin class) on the INSIDE of their front foot. Lastly, to counterbalance the muscles of the legs, encourage them to release the front leg by sitting on the back leg and straightening the front leg.
Other fun activities to include are making a fun dragon mask out of paper plates! Use markers, glue, sequins, puffy paint, etc. to make beautiful, jewel-toned beasts! As they create, play gentle music that allows them to concentrate, breathe, and relax. The old song, Puff, the Magic Dragon is calm, folksy, and is about a boy who loved the imagination of his childhood. It is a perfect choice for accompaniment! Encourage each kid to name their dragon and describe its features, if time allows. Creativity and yoga feed each other and work in the body in similar ways.
Lastly, as your final meditation in savasana, guide the students through a fantastical journey where a dragon is looking for a nice cool oasis so that it too, can calm its body and mind. Describe a beautiful locale, how it glides along the air and wind in search of an inky lake, and how it rests its body against the blades of cool grass. The imagery helps kids to breathe deeply, become still, and ultimately sets the pace for them to enjoy yoga nidra. This part of the practice is incredibly important as it reveals to us truth and clarity while we are entirely calm. Kids need this time just as much, if not more, than adults do.
Have a ROARmarkable time!
Heather has a BA in English and Masters in Education. She works as a yoga teacher, postpartum doula, educator, and writer. Her hobbies include anything crafty, reading, and discovering new things. She has six amazing kiddos who rock her world. Find her on Instagram @hhorrell.