I have been trying to brainstorm a class on slowing down; slowing our kids down, giving them permission to take deep breaths, and take their time. Why have I been trying to do this? Well for one, I’m exhausted from trying to do too much at any given time with my kiddos. Secondly, I’ve watched them attack things with speed, in lieu of taking their time and doing a job right. It has inspired me to find a yoga class concept for encouraging the art of slowing down. Come along with me as I explore some ideas we can all use in our classes for the little ones.
At the beginning of class, when joining the kids together in circle time, be sure to explain the purpose of the class. Explore the differences between moving fast and moving slow with your students and even the idea of when to stop completely. Take this quiet time in the beginning to set the stage for a focused lesson on the stoplight concept.
Typically, we discuss breath work in the beginning as well, because they will be using that breath work throughout the class. So here I would just take a deeper dive into breath work and the many types of breathing: quick (bunny), deep (belly) and teaching the Starfish Breath for an on-the-go exercise. For Starfish Breath, spread one palm out wide (like a starfish), with the other index finger (starting at the pinky) trace each finger of the starfish. When you trace up a finger, inhale. When you trace down, exhale. By tracing each finger, you’ll get 5 mindful breaths.
Here are some ideas for games during the meat of your class:
- Play a game of slow tag, where the kids have to move super slowly, the tagger also moves slowly. To encourage slow movement, perhaps have kids hold a pompom in their toes or try to keep a small piece of paper on the top of their foot from blowing off. This would be a good time to introduce walking meditation.
- Pick a handful of poses to fully instruct. Almost like what we experience in an adult yoga class. Describe cow for instance, in it’s exact form and then help the kids in their form. What fun for them to take the time to get into a yoga pose correctly! Tell them what you are doing here so they can embrace this slower yoga pose approach.
- Pair the kids off for staring contests.
- Play some music and instruct the kids to stop when the music stops. Freeze dance!
Some Kidding Around Yoga songs that can be used for this type of class:
- Every Little Cell – This is an awesome song incorporating some easy yoga poses, slow movements and fast movements as well. It’s perfect for a slow-it-down yoga themed class.
- Head Shoulders Yoga Pose – A slow, fun song to learn some poses correctly. This goes along with the in-depth teaching activity mentioned above. It also incorporates breath work beautifully.
These songs are between 3 and 4 minutes long, so depending on your time allotment, they could easily help support the “meat” of your class.
Here, I believe a beautiful approach is to take extra time on the entry into Savasana, the resting of all body parts and muscles, as well as extra time on bringing them back to the sitting position. It’s setting an example of how we can take our time on engaging our bodies for restfulness.
This is probably my favorite, because I’m a crafter, also because take home crafts provide a reminder of what they learned in class. At the end of class, set aside an area for them to decorate their own stop light. This should be fairly easy with a little beforehand prep. I suggest having all the pieces and parts prepped and then all you need is glue and sharpies in the class. You’ll need cardstock stoplight form and red, green, yellow circles cut out. Instruct the kiddos to finish the stoplight correctly: red, yellow, green in the right order and then have them write out the times in life that correspond with the colors. For example: in the red circle they should think about times they need to stop (like a parent or teacher has told them to), yellow times are for when they are working on something hard like homework and green times are for when they are playing or performing a sport etc. This is the mindfulness portion!
I’ve heard folks say “Life is too short” forever and it’s always bothered me. I sort of think our lives are just the right length. However, I do believe we can make the choice to move through life mindfully and presently or we can speed through without real thought as to what we are doing and achieving. My goal here is to offer encouragement in the preparation of teaching an incredibly difficult concept, given our rushed way of living. Most of our students live in over-scheduled and hurried homes (my own home included). Giving these sweet souls permission to breathe deeply, move slowly and think mindfully is a priceless and precious gift.