You might wonder how pumpkins and yoga could possibly be related. Think of how we transform pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween: it’s the light inside that makes all the difference! This conjures up a natural connection between jack-o-lanterns and the idea of namaste: the light in me recognizes the light in you.
Of course, a pumpkin-themed class can take so many different forms, but I’ll just present a few ideas here. If time allows, the pumpkin theme also holds potential for some fun arts and crafts, too.
Each kid starts with an orange piece of construction paper. Depending on the age of the children and how much time you have, they can either draw a jack-o-lantern face on it or cut one out. To encourage more inventiveness, mention that they can even draw or cut out another design if they would rather not use a face. The important thing is that each kid writes a word on the pumpkin that describes their ‘spark.’ Explain that their spark is something that helps them feel calm, loving, or happy (or all of those!). Be sure to give them a lot of examples, such as: riding a bike, spending time with friends/family, playing music, playing sports, and doing yoga (of course!). These are just some examples to start them with, but also invite the kids to give their own examples. These can be posted on a wall or if they have cut out the faces, on a lit surface to show light shining through.
These jack-o-lantern faces can also be used in an activity. Instead of writing their ‘spark’ on the jack-o-lantern, ask the kids to write one word to describe how yoga makes them feel. Again, give a lot of examples so that you don’t have 5 kids with the same word; alternatively, you can make a deck of cards with different words on them such as peaceful, caring, relaxed, inspired, happy, calm. Each kid draws a card and writes the word on their pumpkin. Then they sit in a circle, each holding their jack-o-lantern for others to see. Give them about 15-20 seconds to look around the circle at the other jack-o-lanterns. Then set a timer for any amount of time you want and go around the circle as each kid chooses another kid’s jack-o-lantern and reads their word. Depending on how long you set the timer for, each kid might have just one turn or several turns. It’s a great way to remind kids why they do yoga, and that it’s more than just about postures.
I know what you’re thinking now…what about a PUMPKIN pose, or jack-o-lantern breath? Here is a game that includes breathing and postures. Have the kids arrange themselves in a circle with one kid in the middle (the ‘candle’). The kid in the middle must choose a long, tall pose that represents a candle, while the kids forming the circle are the jack-o-lantern. If the circle is small, ask the kids to step back until they are at least a couple of feet away from the candle; if the circle is too big, consider splitting the class into more than one group. The reason for this is that each kid will have at least one turn to take a pom pom in their hand and blow it at the candle. If their pom pom doesn’t hit the candle, move to the next kid in the circle. If their pom pom does hit the candle, they trade places with the candle. The new candle must say a word corresponding to a topic you create. Some example topics are: things that help you relax, your favorite yoga posture, nice things you can do to help others, things you like about Autumn or Halloween or any other topic that suits the group. Continue going around the circle so that each kid has one or more turns to blow a pom pom at the candle.
In addition to this, there is so much potential for great pumpkin stories. Consider creating a variation of the Irish folktale about Stingy Jack (modify the story to incorporate yoga poses). Apart from this, pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns present great opportunities for yet another creative variation of acknowledging our transformation through yoga (from seed to pumpkin to jack-o-lantern) and of course, for respecting the light within each of us.