When it comes to flowers, there’s more than just lotus pose in yoga. Think of the whole life cycle of a flower, from seed to sprout to flower, then back to seed. It just begs to be done as a poetic variation of a Sun Salutation. Not to mention all the things associated with flowers, like birds, bees and butterflies. Oh yes, and the elements that help flowers thrive, like sunlight (fire), rain (water), air, and earth.
How do we incorporate these ideas into a kids yoga class? I’ve got three things to share with you: a sunflower salutation, a flower power game and a seed meditation.
Sunflower Salutation: Sunflowers work well here because most kids have seen (and maybe eaten) the seeds. Also, sunflowers already salute the sun! Give a reference point to this salutation with some kind of visual of a sun and a moon. I use a sun on a stick and a moon on a stick.
Then the salutation can go something like this:
- “Start as a sunflower seed (CHILD’S POSE). Breathe in and out 3 times. One…two…three.”
- “Next, seeds sprout” (slowly sit up with hands together in front of the heart). The sprout blows in the wind (guide them through 3 breaths, exhaling with a shhhh sound each time).
- “Now sprouts grow taller and flowers open up to the sun,” (yogis slowly stand up tall, reach arms up and stretch hands open with fingers spread – those are the flowers!). You can bring out your ‘sun’ and hold it up, perhaps starting by making the sunrise and slowly travel overhead until it sets on the other side of the room. Have your yogis follow the sun by either having them wave their hands in the same way as you move the sun, or turning their whole bodies to face the sun the entire time as a sunflower would do.
- “The sun goes down as night comes. Sunflowers sleep!” Make the sun set and bring the moon out. Little yogis round forward and curl down to RAG DOLL, then bend knees and return to CHILD.
The sun and moon are optional, especially since it’s tough to demonstrate the salutation while holding them. It’s best to demonstrate the whole thing once before leading them through, especially since it’s fairly short. Another option is to have one yogi demo the sequence as you speak (if they already know it), or give each yogi a turn to be the sun and moon.
Flower Power game: This works great with a bigger group (minimum 6 kids). Split the class up and have one half act as flowers while the other act as bees. Flowers perch on their mats at one end of the space in FLOWER or BUTTERFLY pose with 5 or 6 pompoms on their lap or nearby. Bees wait for their signal (maybe a chime or other sound) to slowly fly around the flowers, buzzing (bhramari/bee breath). Play a song as they fly. Bees try to gather as many pompoms and bring them back to their mat as they can before the music stops. Think of it as a form of freeze dance. Rather than have this be a competitive game, have the bees work as a team to try to get all or almost all of the pompoms off the flowers.
Switch roles: let the bees be flowers and vice versa and repeat. Some good songs to play are: Flight of the Bumble Bee, The Chicken Dance, or any song about bees, birds, or flowers. Choose a fast or slow song depending on the energy of your little yogis, or the purpose of the game (to energize or to slow down). You can tell the bees how they have to move from flower to flower to add to the challenge!
Seed meditation: This is a moving meditation. The elements lend another layer of awareness to yoga as we bring in some fire (heat through fast movement), water (flowing movements), air (slow, light, upward movements), and earth (stillness and stability).
Begin with the SEED (child’s pose) in the earth. Have each yogi find a comfortable SEED pose either with the forehead resting on the ground or on a bolster or cushion. Take three breaths together, each time humming on the exhale.
The seed sprouts (yogis sit up slowly) while taking 3 breaths, exhaling each time with a shhhhh sound. That’s the rain washing over the seed, hydrating it. The seed sprouts!
Next comes the wind ruffling the tiny sprout. Together take 3 breaths, exhaling each time with a blowing sound (as if blowing out a candle). Yogis sway side to side, as if blowing in the wind.
The sprouts grow into little flowers, reaching for the sun. Yogis slowly stand up, stretching arms out and up as they look up towards the sky. Even open up the hands and spread fingers, imagining that the hands are little flowers blooming. Everyone stands stretched outward and upward for 3 breaths.
Then, on the count of 3, everyone drops down to the ground to become a seed again. If you’re using yoga mats, perhaps have each seed ‘bury itself in the earth’ by putting their mat over themselves while in CHILD pose.
Depending on the age group and temperament of the class, stay in the final SEED pose for 10-30 seconds, guiding them to pay attention to their breath as they relax or any other sensory input (sounds, the feeling of curling up on the ground, room temperature). If you’d like to add the same humming breath they began with, it is a good way to minimize chatting and giggles.
There are flower themes scattered all throughout yoga! Think of the elements of nature, or the idea of opening up and blooming. Create your own or modify the ones here if you like.