Need a theme for your kids’ Yoga class? How about using the month of March as your theme?
“In like a lion, out like a lamb” is a familiar saying that invites our imaginations to pair the fierce weather of winter to be like a lion with the hope that a gentle lamb-like spring is just around the corner. What yoga pose can keep you feeling brave and bold, able to weather any storm? Simhasana, or Lion’s Pose, of course.
Find your way to knees and let the hips settle onto the heels. Sit tall and proud like a lion. Notice your chest and shoulders allowing them to broaden and relax. Spread the fingers wide (like paws) and place them palms down with the fingers bent under on your thighs. Draw a deep breath in through your nose and exhale a “haaa”, or a roar, as you stick your tongue out and down toward the chin, gazing up. Let your lion prepare to pounce by spreading the knees apart and letting the big toes touch. Lean forward, take a deep breath, and exhale a ROAR!
This pose is quite unique in Yoga and for good reason. Let us think about the mouth as a whole…. there is a lot going on in the mouth and face in Lion’s Pose. There is activity in the muscles of the mandible, face, throat and chest. Because of this jaw movement, circulation of blood to the face is improved. Lion’s Pose also stimulates nerves around the eyes ,keeping them healthy. Some other key muscles to keep healthy are zygomaticus major and minor, as well as the platysma muscles in the neck (it’s nice to firm those up as we age). Lion’s Pose is great for these muscles! If you suffer from bad breath, speech problems, and respiratory ailments such as a sore throat or asthma, Lion’s Pose is helpful. If you enjoy singing in the shower or on stage, Lion’s Pose can help the vocal chords stay in tune. Simhasana is also helpful in bringing awareness to the three major bandhas or energy locks in our body: mula, jalandhara and uddiyanna.
Spend extra time practicing Lion’s Pose with some music. Kidding Around Yoga has two great songs featuring Lion’s Pose: Jogging Through the Jungle and A Yogi Went Yodeling. Both of these songs are great for preschool or family yoga classes. It’s also silly to combine Lion’s Pose with other poses – like make a Lion Fish, or Lion Turtle. Get creative and see what the kids can come up with.
After teaching and practicing Lion’s Pose, it’s time to play! Talk about the “in like a lion, out like a lamb” saying and turn your normal cat/cow pose into Lion/Lamb pose. The ‘cat’ portion of the pose (with your back arched up like a scary Halloween cat) becomes a Lion with a ROAR (mix it up with a baby lion’s roar, or a grandma lion’s roar). Then drop your belly and lift your head into what is traditionally a cow pose. This is now a lamb pose, so kids should make sheep sounds and wag their little lamb tails. Go back and forth between the two poses for a while, stretching the back (and imagination). Make it a listening game by having kids get into the pose you call out (with the sound effects, of course). When you call out “Lion!”, kids get into Lion Pose and roar. When you call out, “Lamb!”, kids get into Lamb pose and baaa. Mix it up and call out the same pose a couple times in a row.
A game of “Wind in the Trees” would be perfect in a March themed class. This is a great time to teach pranayama (breathing). Divide the class into two groups: the wind and the trees. The trees take root on their mats in tree pose. The wind takes a long sip of air in through their nose (using 3 part inhales) and exhales through their mouths, pretending to blow the trees down. The trees wave and sway in the wind. Maybe they even fall down! Then switch sides and/or teams and do it again.
These ideas are just the beginning – March and Spring are blooming with possibilities!