The practice of yoga is a constant journey and evolution. This blog is about experiencing and learning through the journey. There are countless opportunities for discovery, challenge, enjoyment and comic relief. It’s a journey that will never end, always a Yogini in Progress. Enjoy the journey!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Child's Play

Teaching yoga to kids can be so much fun. When kids join you on the yoga mat, it's easy for them to just plop down and dive into the movement. They curiously watch how you move your body and do their best to mimic the movement in theirs – monkey see, monkey do. You don't see their minds spinning with responsibilities and to-do lists. Rightfully so, they are there in the present moment. You don't hear lengthy explanations of why they can or cannot try a pose, they just go for it. There's also a lot of laughter and sound effects.

One of the things that really limits adult practitioners is our ability to create ceilings or maximum experiences. We can decide consciously or unconsciously that a certain pose, practice or movement is not available to us when we step on the mat. This can be due to injury, fear, inability to be vulnerable or ego. Kids just experience. If they try something and it doesn't work out, they usually just laugh about it. If they try something and it works out, they celebrate it.

If you have a chance to practice with or teach children yoga, I highly recommend it. That uninhibited playful spirit may just follow you into your practice on or off the mat. Need a little inspiration? Here are a few themes or ideas for yoga with kids.

Flinging webs like Spiderman.
Animals – Sound effects and movement in the poses are a must here. Sit in butterfly (Baddha Konasana) and flap your “wings”. Bark in down dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and howl at the moon in up dog (Urhdva Mukha Svanasana). Wriggle and hiss on the floor in cobra (Bhujangasana).

SuperHeroes – Fly like Superman in Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III), with one fist on your hip and one fist forward. Roll up to standing with a big roar and strong arms like the Incredible Hulk. Swim on your belly in Locust (Salambhasana) like Aquaman. Swivel around like Spiderman in a squat (Malasana) and fling your web (palm up, middle and ring finger tucked).

Flying like Superman.
Alphabet – Pick foods, animals or really anything and have the kids move their bodies to mimic the shape or action. A is for alligator (lay on their belly and snap their arms like jaws), B is for banana (find a standing crescent or locust posture), C is for cat (on all fours, arch the back and hiss), etc. The movement doesn't have to be an “official” yoga pose. Just let your creativity take over and have fun.

Follow the Leader – Many kids love to be the center of attention, so let them lead. Go around the room and let them pick their favorite pose or link a couple of poses together for the group.

There are lots of great books out there with kid yoga themes.  My favorite is "My Daddy is a Pretzel" by Baron Baptiste.

So get out there and find some play either with kids or in your own practice.  You may just find something refreshing and fun in your practice.


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