Yoga is15484039571_900a6a0b0e_z(2)n’t just about poses and breathing. It’s also a creative practice, open to children’s imaginations and creative play. Use an art theme to really explore Yoga in a deeper way.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More (Karen Beaumont): This was a favorite around my house, and my classroom. In the story, a creative kid loves to paint, so he paints the walls, ceiling, and eventually himself. Encourage the kids to act out the story (perhaps even passing out paintbrushes – no paint!) while you read/sing the book.There are forward folds, backbends, and a repetitive lyrical pattern that gets the kids reading (and even singing) along.

Sculpture Freeze Dance: Kids start in a Yoga pose (you can assign poses, give instructions like, “Pick a balancing pose” or “Find a strong pose”, or just leave the choice to the kids). They have become statues. But when music starts, the statues come alive, moving and dancing. How would their statue dance? Would it have delicate movements or large, dramatic ones? Children have to listen closely, because when the music is turned off, the statues all freeze in their Yoga poses again. Hold the poses and notice your breathing. Then start the music and dancing again. You can have the kids repeat their same poses, or challenge them to come up with different statues each time.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Drawing Meditation: Each child starts with a piece of white paper. Fold the paper into quarters and reopen it. In one quarter, children draw a flower of any kind.  In the next box, draw a mountain of any shape and size. The third thing to draw is water, particularly still water, like a lake or calm ocean. And in the fourth sq13093838265_2e832bc1d9_zuare, draw space, either outer space or the sky. Refold the paper so that only the flower shows. As kids look at their drawings, explain the meaning of each square. The flower represents freshness. The flower is part of you because we can always feel fresh and awake just by breathing. So when you feel tired, try this: Breathe in and picture your flower. Breathe out and feel fresh and energized. Now refold your paper to see only the mountain. You and the mountain are the same because you both are strong. When you are feeling nervous, sit or stand tall like a mountain, solid and strong. Fill yourself with breath and feel your strong legs and feet connected into the earth, your body growing tall and powerful toward the sky. Now fold the paper so you only see the water picture. This picture is to remind you that you can be still like this water. As you breathe in and out, imagine this water is in your mind and your calm thoughts settle the lake down until it is smooth like glass. The next time you are confused or have to make an important choice, close your eyes and picture this calm water. Picture your mind smoothing out, like the lake. Finally, fold the paper so only the picture of space shows. There is space inside you. The more space inside you, the happier you are. So when you inhale, imagine filling your body with space, just like your picture. Exhale out any worries, anger and sadness so there is more room for space on your next inhale.

Ice Sculptures – When you first settle into savasana, imagine you are an ice sculpture: hard, still, and solid. Now as you begin to rest, pretend that you are melting. Slowly, your edges become softer, your body melts into a puddle on the floor. No hard edges are left and you keep15483937891_7d822489b8_zmelting and spreading. The whole body softens from the hard ice sculpture into a puddle.

Mandalas – A mandala is a drawing or diagram that is created to remind us that we are part of the infinite. We are all interconnected. You can create mandalas out of pebbles, dried beans, colored sand, or simply color one from a coloring sheet. Your creation of the mandala is a meditation -your mind is focused and not wandering.

 

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