For both children and adults, yoga practice can help us to appreciate nature – and weather is part of nature that kids experience whether they live in the city or in a rural area. I’ve been thinking about this as long-awaited rain has been showering California lately. As sadhana creates greater awareness, we can appreciate our external environment and its effects on us. I noticed this especially last week in class when kids were extra giggly and wiggly. I asked them why they felt extra silly and one boy explained that they didn’t have a chance to go outdoors that day because of the rain. I took the opportunity to work with their silliness and introduce them to laughing yoga!
Not only are rainy days a time of restlessness for kids, but also a chance for playing with the topic of whether. We are part of nature and the elemental aspects of nature mesh well with yogic ideas. Below are some ideas to incorporate in class on a rainy day:
Begin the class with the usual Om-in and opening meditation. Then lead the following short story: “Sit in CRISS CROSS APPLE SAUCE, stretch your arms way up and tickle the clouds. Tickle them until rain comes down all the way to the ground (move hands with widespread fingers from up above down to the ground and tap them all around you like sprinkling raindrops. Repeat a few times). Ooh! Everything’s getting wet! Let’s get in the car and turn on the WINDSHIELD WIPERS. Watch them go back and forth, nice and slowly. Don’t forget the DOG– let him sit in the back seat. Let’s drive through the TREES; see how their branches are swaying around in the wind (while in tree, wave arms around and teeter side-to-side)? Let’s drive up into the MOUNTAIN (standing). Phew! There’s no wind here and the sun’s coming out. Look, there’s a pair of EAGLES flying high in the sky (do eagle pose on both sides)!”
This is the perfect time to begin sun salutation since the “sky is clear” at the top of the MOUNTAIN. A variation of sun salutation that includes simple narration of a storm coming goes as follows: Namaste (prayer position) / the sun goes up! (EXTENDED MOUNTAIN) / And the sun goes down (RAG DOLL/UTTANASANA) / Clouds cover the sky (step back into RUNNER’S LUNGE) / then the wind blows through (sit back in CHILD then slide forward and through to cobra) / my dog barks loud! (DOWNWARD DOG) / and jumps through the door (jump forward to RAG DOLL) / till the sun comes back (EXTENDED MOUNTAIN) / Namaste (prayer position).
Both the short story and sun salutation could be modified for yogis living in snowy areas by sprinkling snowflakes instead of raindrops on the ground. The sky is the limit. Here’s one more idea for the class: you could tell a story about what to do on a rainy day. For instance, “Do you know what I love to do on rainy days? I read books. If I don’t have much time, I read a small book…” For guidance on how to create a ‘book-asana’ sequence, attend a KAY training. Then you could continue the story: “I read about how storms bring lightning as bright as a STAR and first the rain drops come down soft and quietly (in TIPPY TOES or LITTLE CROW tap fingertips on ground), then more rain comes (tap fingers faster and louder) and then rain pours down (drum hands or fists on the ground). It’s so great for thirsty TREES, and they sway their branches in the wind (either use arms or a long, wide ribbon to sweep across the kids to mimic the wind and kids sway as the ‘wind’ touches them). Later, when the rain stops, I go out in the garden and see how the FLOWERS are growing.
These are just some beginning ideas, seeds I have planted. I haven’t tried this sun salutation yet – let me know if you do! I need your ideas and experiences to water my seed-ideas so we can create a garden of ideas for weather-themed classes.