The Yoga Butterfly Within

“Caterpillar sheds his skin to find a butterfly within,caterpillar sheds his skin to find a butterfly within.”butterflies
-Donovan, “There is a Mountain”

Butterflies can infuse a kids yoga class with themes on spring, change and hidden beauty. Of course, like butterflies in a field of flowers, kids generally like to move around a lot! Use a variety of games and activities as a fun way to teach other poses along with BUTTERFLY:

  • Spring meadow freeze dance: Play a song, preferably about butterflies: how about “There is a Mountain,” by Donovan, or a playlist of any other butterfly songs you like? When you turn the music off, kids can freeze in one of the following poses: BUTTERFLY, FLOWER, or TREE. Depending on the group, you may have to demonstrate these poses first.


  • If you have more space, you can set up a game of freeze tag. Choose one kid to be ‘it.’ This person can be a CAT and they crawl around to chase the others, who can ‘run away’ like an INCHWORM: to do this, start in DOG, keep the feet still while walking the hands forward to plank, then keep the hands still and walk the feet forward to DOG – repeat! When someone is tagged by the cat, they sit in either BUTTERFLY or FLOWER until the end of the game (which is over when everyone has been tagged).


  • Red light, green light: One kid is the caller at one end of the room, the others are travelers and they begin at a starting line (it’s a race!). Each traveler has a little plastic butterfly on their head (you can find these on Amazon) and they are in FLOWER pose. When the caller says “Green light!” the travelers go forward in a CRAB walk or CAT walk, with the plastic butterfly on their back or tummy. If the butterfly falls off, they are out of the game and they wait and cheer on the others from the sidelines. Whenever the caller says, “Red light!” the travelers stop and get back into FLOWER pose with the butterfly ba25353026890_aca506369d_zlanced on their head. First one to reach the caller gets to be the caller next.

While games are great for releasing energy, the idea of butterflies can also be used to help calm a group of kids. I have often brought a group of chatty kids into BUTTERFLY so that I could ask them, “Do butterflies talk?” and when they (hopefully) say ‘no,’ I ask them what sound a butterfly makes. Usually it just gets quiet, or if we are ‘flapping our butterfly wings’ by moving our knees up and down, sometimes we make a swish-swish-swish sounds with our mouths. It is a quick way to hush the group, if even for a moment.

Finally, it wouldn’t be yoga without some focus on the mind and breath. If the kids don’t already know what a chrysalis is, you can explain it now and tell them to make one with their hands by putting them together, like in prayer position, but with the palms separated as if they are holding something inside. Talk them through butterfly pranayama as follows: Open a little space in your chrysalis by lifting your thumbs up. This is a special chrysalis–it’s not for9613528379_c489df7192_z a butterfly, but it’s for something else that is going to transform into something beautiful. Think of something that makes you feel sad, worried, afraid, or angry. Now take a deep breath in, and slowly blow that feeling into your chrysalis. Close up the chrysalis, close your eyes, and breathe. Imagine that feeling inside the chrysalis changing into a good feeling, or maybe something beautiful. Just like caterpillars that change into beautiful butterflies, you can also change your bad feelings into something beautiful, into good feelings. It just takes some time and concentration.


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