There are plenty of TV programs that are so wildly popular, that sooner or later you’ll see the characters all over the place, like at birthday parties or when you shop at Target or another major store. PJ Masks is one of those shows. My daughter has gotten so caught up in this series that seems to fulfill a niche that most generations crave – the need for superheroes!
The more I watched my 3-year-old get wrapped up in different superhero characters, the more I realized that young kids are drawn to superheroes because they themselves are struggling to find their own abilities. Superhero shows also provide great inspiration for problem solving, personal power and contexts that help kids process right and wrong. So let’s embrace these colorful, dramatic characters.
Being the yoga nerd that I am, here are some Kids’ Yoga ideas that I couldn’t help but incorporate into my daughter’s superhero playtime.
Red light, green light, blue light
One day my daughter was running around the house calling out, “Red light! Green light! Blue light!”
“What’s blue light?” I asked her, then immediately realized she was making a reference to the colors of the 3 heroes in PJ Masks: Catboy (blue), Owlette (Red) and Gekko (green).
So, thanks to my toddler, we have a PJ Masks yoga version of Red Light, Green Light:
- Assign a pose to each color. You will notice in the show that each hero strikes a pose that resembles a standing yoga pose. Gekko does something that looks like virabhadrasana (warrior), Catboy does a sort of prasarita padottanasana while touching one hand to the ground, and Owlette does a sort of star pose as she spreads her wings.
- Play Red Light, Green Light with one little yogi as the caller. The caller can say the color or the name of the character associated with that color, and all others must stop in their tracks and do the pose of that character.
- Whoever makes it to the caller first gets to be the caller for next round. Or just make sure that everyone gets a turn to be the caller.
Come to our superhero senses
Each character in the show has a catch phrase:
- Owlette: Super owl eyes!
- Catboy: Super cat ears!
- Gekko: Super lizard grip!
This seems like a perfect creative context for kiddie pratyahara. Since kids generally thrive on engaging with the world through their senses – rather than taking the traditional form of pratyahara, which involves withdrawing their senses from the external world – using their super owl eyes (sight), super cat ears (hearing), and super lizard grip (touch) to focus their attention. Think of it as a fun way to practice mindfulness. It can go something like this:
“Hello yogis! Today we’re going to be like Owlette and use our super owl eyes!” Take a standing pose that require some balance and steadiness and ask them to focus their super owl eyes (find their drishti) on a given point or object.
“Okay, great! Now let’s be like our friend, Catboy! He’s got super cat ears and he can hear really well. Let’s sit in criss cross applesauce, close our eyes and listen to the sounds around us with our super cat ears.” Give the yogis a brief amount of time to get quiet and listen to the sounds around them. If the group seems capable and focused enough, you can bring their attention to the sounds within them, too: their breath, their tummies gurgling, their heartbeats, their thoughts and emotions.
Roll the dice
By now you may have seen some form of a yoga dice game to play in class. This can take many forms. Here, you can make a die that has the PJ Masks colors or images of the characters on its sides. Each yogi gets at least one chance to roll the die. Whichever color shows on top is the one that everyone does. This is best done with the kids in a circle formation.
Walk the walk
This Ted Talk reminds us that sometimes you can affect how you feel on the inside by changing your form on the outside. Notice how many young kids love assuming the superhero pose! Take this opportunity to have a good old fashioned freeze dance, using one of the PJ Masks theme songs, of course.
Before the freeze dance, play a short game of Simon Says with the PJ Masks poses (copy what the characters do in the show or have the kids make up poses for each character). This game of Yogi Says (a.k.a. Simon Says with a yogic twist) gives everyone a chance to get ideas for the pose they can take when the music stops.
Teaching opposites: from peppy to peaceful
Sometimes superhero shows seem overstimulating: full of action, extreme emotions and caricatures of good and evil. This can be a way to guide kids in exploring the spectrum between fast and slow, loud and quiet, peppy and peaceful.
Catboy has a couple of catch phrases that come to mind here: “Super cat leaps!” and “Super cat speed!” Young kids love to jump and run, just like Catboy. Set up a small obstacle course that gives yogis the chance to do a couple of super cat leaps and run with their super cat speed between those leaps. Put on a PJ Masks song or other peppy tune and give everyone at least one chance to go through the course.
This can be a great prelude to the Secret Garden portion of class. It gives yogis a moment to burn off some excess energy so they can relax in Savasana.
- Voice/vocalizations: your power phrase and/or super power in a phrase (have some cards to suggest different ones)