Nothing makes us feel more connected, yet insignificant, as the stars. Looking into the night sky is something we have done for millennia in our endless pursuit to find truth, meaning, and connection. Kids always notice the stars. As with cloud-watching, kids are natural born star-gazers. The inspiration and majesty the stars bestow us are one of life’s greatest treasures. Yoga helps us to get connected – it literally means to “yoke” or to come into union. So it seems natural that teaching to the stars, as it were, is a perfect time to do yoga!
Wait until it is dark out (of course) to go outside. Set out mats, a picnic blanket, refreshments, and telescopes (if you have them, if not, you can use binoculars), maybe a picture of the famous painting by Van Gogh, and anything else you might need. Begin by looking at the stars and breathing in the night air. For a quick but “on-theme” pranayama, do a five star breath! Encourage your students to lie on their mats with their arms out to the sides and their feet parallel to their hands, while looking upwards. Tell them that their feet, hands, and head are all the points of a star and to imagine breathing the cool, night air into each point. As each point becomes more filled with air and prana, we sparkle-just like the stars!
Next, do calm exercises and songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Hey Diddle Diddle. You can even follow the songs with a flowy asana practice in the form of a Moon Salutation. My favorite lunar routine starts in standing star, followed by wide-legged forward fold, then strengthening into warrior II and reverse warrior. Meet back in the middle in star and then do the routine on the other side of the body! Finish the sequence in goddess with your feet firmly rooted into the cool ground.
Lastly, gaze at the stars together through your telescope or binoculars. Find each star and constellation. Talk about how each one is so far away, yet seems near and how each one sparkles with its unique light and warmth. Connect each individual star to the members of your family, friends, neighbors, etc., reminding them that they too, are unique and full of light. Ask them how they can use that light for good so that they can help guide others and be guided themselves. Yoga connects us to each other and our inner-selves, just as the stars inspire us to do.
Remember to rest in savasana before ending the practice. Join hands, (and bonus points if there are five of you!), make yourselves a group star to reflect the night sky as you relax. As we rest after yoga, we allow ourselves to go deeper into a meditative state and we delve into a world that is our own – our secret garden – or, our own universe of stars, moons, and worlds!