YAY! It’s finally March and one of my family’s favorite holidays is fast approaching—St. Patrick’s Day. Even if you’re not Irish, as my Dadai’ (DAH dee in Gaelic), or Da for short, always said, “Everyone’s a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!” And he’s right—just look around on St. Patrick’s Day and it seems almost everyone you see is wearing green. And, even better, everyone is extra happy! My family history is heavily steeped in Irish tradition, but even if yours is not it’s always fun to be ‘Irish’ for this one special day. Parades, parties, Irish dance and music—it’s a festive day to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick.
The Irish are great storytellers, and the stories (or tall tales) about St. Patrick have also been greatly embellished over the years. Much of the history of St. Patrick’s life has been focused around when he “drove the snakes out of Ireland”. Though, in truth, there were never any native snakes in Ireland, it has more to do with the cool climate and geography of Ireland than the story of Patrick’s missionary work in Ireland. But, the Irish love their stories and their traditions, and so do I! What better way to explain the absence of snakes in Ireland, than the extraordinary tale of St. Patrick? I invite you to share the story of St. Patrick with your family (or class) through this fun Yoga story:
“Long ago, on the Emerald Isle, an island of tall MOUNTAINS and green, green valleys, a young man came over from England by BOAT to help the people of Ireland. Patrick was once a shepherd, watching over his master’s flock of SHEEP (CAT/COW). Now, during this time, the people of Ireland had a very bad problem with SNAKES. There were SNAKES living in the TREES, and SNAKES high up on the MOUNTAINS, and SNAKES hiding under ROCKS (CHILD’S POSE) and even under TABLES! They had tried everything to scare them away—loud, barking DOGS (DOWNWARD-FACING DOG), high-kicking DONKEYS (EXTENDED LEG OR HOPPING IN DOWNWARD DOG), and fast-flying EAGLES—but nothing worked. St. Patrick’s idea was to bring PEACEFUL (PEACE BEGINS WITH ME – touch thumbs to each finger, index through pinkie, saying one word per touch: “Peace” “Begins” “With” “Me”) thoughts to the Irish people. So, he met with the shoe COBBLERS, and the WOODCHOPPERS, and the WARRIORS, and the DANCERS (KING DANCER), and all of the people in Ireland and taught them to have PEACEFUL (PEACE BEGINS WITH ME) thoughts. Before long the SNAKES climbed down from the MOUNTAINS and out of the TREES and left Ireland forever because it was too, too QUIET (RELAXATION POSE).”
After the children are all warmed up from the story, introduce a fun yoga game focusing on their good listening skills and the ability to stay calm and quiet while waiting their turn.
Leprechaun, Leprechaun Where’s Your Shamrock? (similar to “Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone“)
- Set the game up by cutting out about 10-15 small shamrocks (or purchase some shamrock paper decorations from the dollar store to save yourself some time), and place them in the center of the Yoga circle or room.
- On the back of each shamrock write the name of a yoga pose that the children will know already, and have the first LEPRECHAUN choose a shamrock/yoga pose to teach to the other students.
- Next, everyone will sit down on their mats and the LEPRECHAUN will go to the front of the room and sit with his/her back to the other children, with their eyes closed.
- Teacher then chooses a student to be IT. The student must quietly leave their space, and sneak up behind the LEPRECHAUN to pick up the shamrock (the one used to teach the pose), return to their space, and hold it between their hands in ANJALI (Namaste) MUDRA. All the other children must also place their hands into ANJALI (Namaste) MUDRA.
- When everyone is ready, have the children call out: “Leprechaun, Leprechaun where’s your shamrock?” The LEPRECHAUN can then turn around and has 3 (or more, you decide!) guesses to find out who has the shamrock.
- The child with the shamrock is the next LEPRECHAUN, who gets to choose a new shamrock/yoga pose to teach/demonstrate, until everyone has had a chance to be the LEPRECHAUN.