Want to grab any kid’s attention? Just say the word “snack” and BOOM. Use this to your advantage with a food theme in your next yoga class:
Yummy Yoga: Kidding Around Yoga has written a wonderfully creative song called Yummy Yoga. In it, you fly around the world tasting foods from several different cultures all while rolling yourself up in your yoga mat. It’s great fun, and also teaches an important lesson from Swami Satchidananda: Truth is one; Paths are many.
Make a Pizza: Have your kids sit in a circle and straddle their legs (wide-legs) sitting foot-to-foot (already this activity is a hip-opener). Pretend to make pizza by making the motions of mixing dough, spreading sauce, chopping veggies, putting on toppings, and tossing dough up into the air. These motions could include forward folds, twists, circular motions, side reaches, etc. In the end, smell the pizza and lean forward, inhale through your nose and exhale with a chant of “YUMMMM”. Practice breathing (I mean smelling!) a few times. Then you can do more movements by slicing the pizza and more breath work by blowing on your slice to cool it down. I like to use the book Pete’s a Pizza in family classes, so the adults can turn the children into a pizza.
Make Sandwiches: Use a seated forward bend to show the two pieces of bread (legs are the bottom slice, arms are the top). Then go around the circle and share what types of sandwiches each child likes. As kids say what is in their sandwich, the group will inhale up with the arms and exhale down as we fold the sandwich together and say the type of sandwich we are making. Follow each sandwich with a long breath (doesn’t the grilled cheese sandwich smell so good?).
Bottom of the Jar: Use your imagination – this could be a peanut butter jar, jelly jar, mayonnaise jar or even a bowl of mashed potatoes or a cotton candy pot. Get on your hands and knees and “scrape” the jar with your hips, circling left and right. Be sure to get every last bit. Lots of wiggling encouraged!
Popcorn: This activity is commonly called Pompom Poppers. Every person needs at least one pompom. The pompom is the popcorn popping in your hands (which have become the pot). Cup your two hands together, palms up, with a pompom in the “pot” you’ve made. Then gently “pop” the pompom into the air and flip your hands so the palms are down. Catch the pompom with the pot made from the back of your hands. Then toss the pompom again and flip the hands back to the original pot, palms up, and catch the pompom once more. Repeat and add pompoms as you become proficient. I like to use this at the beginning of practice to settle everyone down. Pompom Poppers is not only fun, but a lovely meditation and mindfulness activity because it takes total concentration.
Spaghetti Test: When it comes time for savasana, we want our young yogis to be completely relaxed, like a wet noodle. Once your children are in their savasana position and totally still, walk around the room and give each one the Spaghetti Test. Gently pick up a foot or hand and jiggle it around, seeing if the leg (or arm) is wobbly and limp like a piece of cooked pasta. Once you’ve checked, gently place the noodle back down on the mat.