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Teaching Kids Yoga is not usually a formal affair, but neckties are certainly encouraged in my classes! I love using props in both my children and adult yoga classes, and neckties are a fun, creative prop that naturally leads to a fun, creative practice. I started using neckties when I wanted a class set of straps, but couldn’t afford them. I put on my MacGyver thinking cap and came up with neckties. They are super-colorful (something kids enjoy). Neckties are a breeze to store – just smoosh them into a large baggie. Go to thrift shops (like Goodwill or Salvation Army) to buy ties, often for less than $1 each. And I was surprised at the number of games, activities, and uses I found to play with my new “straps”.
Tightrope Walker: When I teach a circus theme, or just want to add a little more difficulty to a class plan, we place our ties along the floor or mat and pretend we are on tightropes. We walk the tight rope, balancing a stuffed animal on our heads. We try to do poses on the tightrope (like Half-Moon or Warrior 3). We have made a tightrope trail, linking all the neckties together, and played Follow the Leader.
Stretch It: I noticed that my students weren’t really using their arm strength in poses that were mostly legs (like Tree or Warrior 1). So, when my kids are in a leg-centered pose, I have them hold their neckties with their arms in the appropriate spots according to the pose, keep their arms straight, and PULL! This gets their upper body working, as well as their lower body. It also provided a teachable moment: Yoga means “union”. We are more balanced and stronger when we put together our reaching, strong upper body and our grounded, powerful lower body. Try it for yourself – the necktie really makes a difference.
Class Management: With colorful neckties, you will always have a way to sort and organize groups within your kids’ yoga classes. For example, if you want kids to line up, say, “If your necktie has an animal on it, please form a line behind me. Now if your tie has stripes, you’re next to line up”. You can form teams the same way.
Eye Pillows: If each child has his/her own necktie, use them as eye pillows during the final relaxation time. Either you can drape the ties across the child’s eyes, or if they are old enough, they can do it themselves. This provides a physical reminder that it is time to settle the body down and rest the mind.
There are a lot of other uses for neckties: partner/group poses, scarves, and limbo games come quickly to mind. Neckties are a simple tool to keep in your Yoga Teacher Toolbox (or in a baggie).