“An example is a clear bulb or a colored bulb. If the bulb is colored, it gives colored light. But you wouldn’t say the electricity inside is also colored.” -Swami Satchidananda, The Living Gita (The Yoga of Meditation)
April showers bring May flowers….and rainbows, too! What’s at the end of a rainbow? I like to think of that mythic pot of gold as the hidden treasure that comes from the richness of all the colors, and all those colors come from the life-giving light of the sun that contains all of them. In kids yoga we explain that namaste means “the light that is in me bows to the light in you,” and we tend to think of light as something pure, positive, and radiant. But what about those times when we don’t feel 100% pure, positive and radiant? If your yogis know and like the movie Inside Out, then you can use that to talk about how each emotion has a ‘color.’ That’s when we can remember that our (inner) light is really a rainbow of thoughts, sensations, and emotions.
But wait! We can’t just ask our little yogis to sit down right off the bat, close their eyes, and reflect on the rainbow of thoughts and emotions swirling inside them like a kaleidescope. Let’s save that for later in the class. First, let’s get them moving! One of my favorite ways to incorporate colors into the class theme is through props. Some fun ways to bring the rainbow into yoga class are: yoga dots, bean bags, and ribbons. What can we do with all these little trinkets?
Play a game I like to call Rainbow Relay. This is a great one for bigger classes (at least 6 or more kids). Split the class into two teams. Each team has a set of yoga dots that has one of each color of the rainbow (available on Amazon, or you can make some at home with cloth, durable paper board, or other material). Start the activity by putting on the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The dots should be mixed up so that when the music starts, the kids have the challenge of laying them on the ground in an arc. When all the dots are down in the order of the colors of the rainbow, each team lines up and the kids go one by one “over” the rainbow. They do this by hopping onto the red dot and pausing to do a pose, then to the orange dot to do another pose and so on, until they’ve gone over the entire rainbow. Set clear rules: maybe say they have to do all standing poses, or you can even limit it to sitting poses if you want them to practice getting up and down. You can ask them to wait until one kid has completed the whole rainbow before the next one starts, or you can let them go one after another so that there is almost always a kid on each dot. Modify the rules to your group. With smaller kids, you might even want to lay the dots out for them so they don’t have to fuss with getting them in the right order. If you have an odd number of kids, it can be a non-competitive version with just one rainbow and one team. It’s a good idea to emphasize pacing and ask the kids to hold each pose 1-3 breaths so that the whole activity doesn’t become a sloppy disaster!
If you’re able to get your hands on to a set of bean bags with at least one of each color of the rainbow – or if you’re crafty or patient enough to make some – then you can give one bean bag to each yogi. Then get them to line up in order of the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, etc…) with their bean bag on their head so they can practice balance. Once they’re lined up, you can play a wacky version of Simon Says and ask them to get into a yoga pose but also specify whether the group should be standing in a line, a circle, or some other formation. This will most likely be too complicated for very young yogis (ages 2-5), so adapt it to your group. The younger kids might enjoy an activity where you scatter the bean bags around on the ground and then direct them to run to a specific color and do a certain pose there. That way, each individual kid can focus on what they’re doing and not worry about coordinating with the others. You can also opt for this version if there is a lot of dispute about who gets what color bean bag (although this type of conflict can also be a lesson in appreciating what color you get, whether or not it’s the one you want!).
Make rainbow ribbons by tying together a bunch of them, each one a color of the rainbow. Then lead your yogis through different poses where they can draw a rainbow from the ‘pot of gold’ to the ‘cloud.’ Here are some example cues you can call out:
“Okay, everyone stand in STAR pose! Now your right foot is the pot of gold and your left foot is a cloud. Draw a rainbow with your ribbons from the pot of gold to the cloud!”
“Now stand in WARRIOR 2 pose. Your bent leg is the pot of gold and your back leg is the cloud. Draw your rainbow nice and slowly!”
“Next let’s take it easy in BUTTERFLY pose. Your left knee is the pot of gold and your right knee is the cloud. Let’s draw a few rainbows back and forth quickly!”
You get the idea. If you have scarves instead of ribbons, that works as well, but each yogi will get just one or two colors. It’s fun to vary it by asking them to draw the rainbow quick or slowly, once or a few times, or maybe even upside-down in a smile shape. Also ask them to exhale or inhale as they draw the rainbow to bring some breath awareness into the activity.
…and the treasure?
So you might be wondering: what is that treasure I mentioned at the beginning? Not actual gold, but more of an inner treasure. As the kids lie on the ground during Secret Garden time, ask them to imagine a rainbow. As they picture themselves floating effortlessly toward that rainbow, they imagine the pot of gold at the end. Explain that it is their personal treasure and it is not actually gold, but something that makes them feel completely calm. Perhaps guide them to imagine what it feels like to be calm in all parts of their body: head, arms, hands, torso, legs, and feet. If they relax enough, give them a minute or two to enjoy that sensation of calm. Then, after you slowly guide them out of their Secret Garden and bring them to the closing circle, pass around something that symbolizes the pot. Whoever is holding the pot tells the class in a few words what their treasure is. Alternatively, if you want to let them keep their treasure secret, you can ask each yogi to say which part of themselves feels most calm.
Remember, April showers bring May flowers…and hopefully a few rainbows that remind us all of our personal treasure at the end of the rainbow!