“I didn’t tell you this at the beginning of class because I wanted it to be a surprise,” I gently share with the children lying down with their eyes closed and bodies (mostly) still. “These yoga mats underneath you are actually magic carpets and they can take you wherever you wish to go.” Some kids close their eyes tighter when I say this. Some of them break into the cutest, goofiest grins. And others don’t care and can’t, or won’t, keep their bodies still.
I begin to spray some of my magic lavender potion over their bodies as I talk again, “Fly your magic carpet to your favorite place in the whole wide world. Maybe your favorite place is the beach or it’s your bedroom. Wherever it is, fly through the clouds straight to your favorite place.” Being in your favorite place is instantly relaxing for young and old. Likewise, simply imagining you’re in your favorite place is quite relaxing as well. The Savasana time (aka Magic Carpet time) is one of the kids’ favorite parts of yoga class. Even the children who can’t–or won’t–keep their bodies still inquire if we will have Magic Carpet time each time they walk in for class.
I understand why the kids smile while imagining their favorite places during Magic Carpet time. But why do the kids who peek at me spraying my magic potion ask for it? What about the children who rustle around and shout out their favorite places to distract all those who have finally gotten quiet? Why do these children love this time as well?
I allow them to dive into their imaginations. That’s why. I actually insist that they do. Even if they keep rustling and wigging, they need this time. We need our imaginations. Giving them a Magic Carpet allows children to follow their creative imaginations. Imagination feeds the soul. It’s why children sit up rejuvenated from just a few minutes in this sweet imagination time. They are being fed in a way that doesn’t happen often enough.
Often, I guide the children to fly their Magic Carpets into a rainforest, a tree house, or an island. In our Talking Stick Circle Time at the end of class, each child shares one special thing about their Magic Carpet time. Sometimes it’s clear the child has gone somewhere completely different than I intended. She is playing with bunnies while everyone else is at the beach! It’s wonderful when this happens. What magic it is to be invited to fully follow one’s own imagination. We need this young generation to trust their own imaginations. Our imaginations are what guide us into being teenagers and adults who trust our wildest ideas and then develop these ideas to solve real problems affecting humans, animals, and our home, Earth.
As I am leading Kids’ Yoga classes I remind myself often that I am a role model for these children. I get to decide if I am going to be a positive or negative role model. I wish to do my best to be a positive example of an adult who trusts that puppets can talk, who trusts that yoga mats can be flying magic carpets, and who is still wildly imaginative. Kids sometimes will tell me that the puppets I bring in aren’t actually talking. I kindly tell them that all my puppets are as real as can be.
Beyond the Magic Carpet time, a Childrens’ Yoga class needs to be imaginative and creative. Learning is pretty boring without imagination. I’ll go even further: learning cannot occur without imagination and creativity. We, as Kids’ Yoga teachers, need to infuse our classes with imaginative play and creativity to remind our students that learning IS play. Learning isn’t separate from play. Children will remember the times of class, and of life, that they were enjoying themselves. As teachers, let’s guide the interweaving of learning, imagination, enjoyment, and creativity. Whether or not these children grow into adult yoginis and yogis, I wish for my students to be wildly imaginative and creative learners. I do my best in guiding them through many imaginative magic carpet rides, day in and day out, so that this can happen.