Have you heard the story There Was an Old Monster by Rebecca Emberly? It’s written in the same pattern as the old classic, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, but in this version, the monster swallows a tick which starts a cascade of problems for him.

With its vivid characters and fun repetitive sounds, There Was an Old Monster makes a wonderful story to act out in a classroom, living room or yoga studio. The book is also a great starting point for a whole themed yoga class!

Start by assigning each character in the story a posture:

  • Monster: 5 pointed star
  • Tick: happy baby
  • Ant: warrior 1
  • Bat: candlestick/shoulder stand
  • Jackal: updog
  • Bear: chair
  • Lion: lion pose with breath

Practice the postures a few times with your children and then play a quick game of Yogi Says to be sure they have them memorized. Yogi Says is played just like Simon Says. The leader says, “Yogi says be a monster,” and all players come into the announced pose. If the leader doesn’t say “yogi says,” then the players do not do the announced pose. The leader should use the Old Monster poses for the game this time to reinforce the postures.

Begin to read the book aloud. When an animal is mentioned, everyone comes into that pose and holds it until another animal is introduced. When the ants make the Old Monster itch, the kids can jump around like they have ants in their pants, too. Or, extend the lesson and have a mini-freeze dance. Play music and let children dance around with big movements. Randomly pause the music. When the music stops, the kids must freeze in whatever position they are in. No moving. No talking. And try for no giggling. Start the music and the dancing up again and continue as long as you’d like.

When the book is finished, it’s time for Toe-ga! Spread pompoms across the floor and children use their giant monster feet to pick up the ants and ticks (the pompoms) using only their toes. You could have them pick up one at a time and place it on their own mat (again, using only their toes) or have them match the color of the pompom to pieces of colored paper spread around the room (blue pompoms go on the blue paper, red on red, etc.). Change up the “rules” however you’d like, depending on the age and ability of your students. Kidding Around Yoga has a fun song specifically for Toe-ga you can download.

Once the pompoms have been picked up, each child uses their collection (you may have to redistribute the pompoms) to create a pompom portrait of a monster straight from their imagination. Take turns sharing their monsters – name, size,  habitat, special abilities, diet, and so on. Once everyone has had a turn, children inhale through their nose and exhale strongly to blow the pompoms off their mats and back to the center of the room. This may take a few breaths!

Finally, play a round of Pass-A-Laugh, but instead of laughing, pass a monster sound! Here’s how: all players sit in a circle, fairly close together. Player 1 looks at Player 2 and makes a monster sound (a growl, squeal, whatever the child wants). Player 2 mindfully listens to Player 1’s sound and repeats it back to Player 1 exactly, with the same sound, facial expressions and gestures Player 1 used. Then Player 2 turns to Player 3 and makes up a new sound. Player 3 listens and repeats it back to Player 2. Then Player 3 makes a monster sound to Player 4, and so on all the way around the circle. Encourage each monster to have a unique sound. 




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Kidding Around Yoga Justice Information

 Company Justice Statement

We stand with you, our Black family. At Kidding Around Yoga, we are a worldwide multicultural community committed to bringing the teaching of yoga to children and families worldwide. Our aspirations have always been to treat all humans with dignity, respect and care. We recognize that aspirations and intentions are different from impact. Our good intentions have not diminished the impact of our lack of understanding. We acknowledge the harm experienced by Black people and people of color within our organization. We have been blind to the ways in which white supremacy culture has been at play within our materials, structures and communications. We are deeply humbled and saddened to start to realize the extent to which BIPOC have been harmed, undersupported, ignored, dismissed, asked to perform emotional labor for free, and otherwise not held in the ways we aspire to hold everyone. We appreciate those who continued to point out to us our blindspots, even when we failed to listen or honor the wisdom they were bringing. We apologize. We know it is not enough. We are committing to strengthening our anti-racist actions, to continue looking deeper into our structures and personal biases, and to make ongoing changes to embody the teachings of yoga.

This is a time to wake up, to speak up, to stand up. This is a time to fight for what is right and educate those who are still in the dark. Every Black life matters. We all recognize that these are not new issues, but this IS a new opportunity to be allies and agents of change, in large and small ways. Let us not hide from this challenge or wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting. We each have a voice and a responsibility to fight for a better, more just and peaceful world. Join us as we listen, as we learn, as we change, and as we do what we do best: share the ancient and powerful practice of yoga and meditation with children across the globe.

In addition to the ways in which KAY supports bringing yoga to all children, we specifically recognize and commit to the following:

► Our materials and content need to be reviewed and updated. Some existing content contains ideas or themes rooted in racist structures we are now becoming aware of. These have caused harm and discrimination, and we are committed to a thorough review and action steps. We will give updates as to our actions regarding these materials.

We also recognize that we have not fully understood what cultural appropriation of yoga looks like. We understand that, in certain instances, we have used yoga in a way that has diminished its roots and caused harm to the culture from which it arises. We are undergoing a deep review of our materials and marketing, in this light, and will give updates as to our actions as a result of this review.

We also recognize that asking our Black teachers to share what they are doing to guide themselves through these “trying times” was felt as insensitive by many teachers. It was not our intention to cause harm in this way, but we understand how this is emotional labor, and that teachers need to be compensated for this. We will compensate any teachers we call upon to support us in this process.

We acknowledge the lack of Black leadership within KAY, and are actively expanding the leadership team to include and elevate Black wisdom and voices. This week, we are delighted to welcome Shawandra Ford and Camelia Brown onto the leadership team. We will continue to expand our team in the coming weeks.

We are revamping our KAY4ALL training to include specific anti-racist training. We will make it mandatory and included for all trainees and trainers. Meanwhile, KAY Leadership is undergoing anti-racist trainings themselves, which will be ongoing.

We are in the process of allocating resources to support scholarships for BIPOC trainees, to fund classes in underserved communities, and to offer financial support to organizations upholding anti-racism and helping make yoga accessible and available to BIPOC families.

In order to move forward and accomplish the mandates listed above, we have created a Justice Task Force. The JTF will identify and implement the changes needed within KAY. The JTF consists of seasoned and new team leaders committed to serving to create an anti-racist culture within our organization.

We will be adding tasks to the list, as we grow and evolve in our understanding of what needs to be done. We hope you will join us in doing this work in your own lives.

We are open to feedback, but we understand that it is no one’s job but ours to look, to learn, to digest, and to take action. We stand by our commitment to become an anti-racist organization whose work uplifts, supports and learns from Black wisdom and leadership.

Please email info@kiddingaroundyoga.com if you wish to reach out to us in regard to this statement, whether it’s feedback, an offer to join our efforts, or you want to be kept up to date with these promises. 


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