It doesn’t get very cold here in the South, so we often have to play pretend or make believe when it comes to the winter season. Our imaginations are so vivid that I easily came up with a winter wonderland themed yoga class. Kids and parents love it! I tend to get a little over-zealous decorating, but you can do this class as an impromptu break from the usual, or you can plan ahead and go overboard, too. It is a great class to teach near holiday time, as a birthday, or just because. Take a couple of the following tips and run with it.
· To prepare kids for one of the most important parts of their yoga practice, meditation, get them running around a little first so that their bodies get all the “wiggles” out and they are ready to sit for a few minutes. Tell them to imagine a blizzard is coming and they are the snow. Snow flurries start to fall really softly but then they become heavier and heavier and the wind swirls them faster and faster. The children ARE the snow flurries flying, swirling, and blustering about the room. As you get ready to meditate, talk about how blizzards eventually end and the air becomes soft as the ground swells with beautiful twinkling snow. Everything is quiet.
· A fun yoga game to play blends a race with yoga poses. I call it Migrating Birds (you could even throw in a mini-lesson on seasonal migration). Have the children stand in a line side-by-side. As you stand across the room, call to them “warm, cool, cold”. The goal is to get to your side first. Of course, the game is just for fun, so keep it light. Anyway, when you say “warm”, the kids can crawl. When you say “stop”, call a pose such as table, cat/cow, or tiger. When you say “cool”, they walk. As they stop from here, their poses should be standing such as mountain, tree, or star. When you say “cold”, the children need to run to get South fast! Switch it up!
· Show them a new pose, called penguin. It is basically a duck walk. Start in a deep squat and tuck your elbows as you walk around the room. This can easily be adapted into a partner pose where kids can hold each other’s hands in front of them to help maintain balance.
· If you want to include story time, a classic, great book is Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day. It isn’t too long and it’s perfect for all ages. If you want to do a craft, an inexpensive and not-too-messy option is snowflake making. All you need is paper and scissors. There are a ton of patterns online to teach you how to create different shapes. You could even try to cut yoga poses into the snowflake shapes!
· Lastly, a great activity to delve into Raja Yoga, and to get kids thinking about the “big picture” as well as philosophical ponderings such as the idea of change and permanency, is the Ice Cube Melt. Start with a piece/cube of ice and discuss what the ice cube actually is…it is water (remember your chemistry?). Now, show them how things are always changing, yet their integrity is still the same. Use a hairdryer to melt the ice. Ask them what it is now. Laugh when they say “a mess!” Reiterate that it is water still, it just appears different. Ask them how that applies to them. If they are older, this will be easier, however, even young kids will pick up more than we expect.
Add your own ideas, omit some listed, do your own thing. Just make sure you share the magic of winter and create a cool yoga class!
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