Sunday, 31 July 2016

Yoga for Every Body- Kids' Yoga

Yoga is great to do with the kids.  It is a fun way to spend time together, it improves their concentration, and helps build strong, flexible bodies and is calming. 

Above all yoga with kids should be fun.  Remember children have short attention spans so 15- 20 minute sessions will be enough and as with adult practices end with 'quieter' poses or a short meditation.  Children may not to memorise sequences although 'mirroring' you do a short sequence may be fun to warm up or just have a good shake.  Children may not be as cautious as adults but as long as they are not practicing in a way that may injure themselves, it is best not to be too worried about perfect alignment.  

Children love imitating animals.  Many yoga poses are named after animals and you can make up some great stories using them.  Need some inspiration?  How about a jungle themed adventure?  You could have even more fun with this if you do some face painting too!  The children may be inspired to learn more about the animals they are imitating.  Below are some poses you might want to include.

Low Boat (your canoe to get about on the jungle rivers) - lie down with your arms by your sides. Inhale lift your head, chest, arms and legs.  Look  down your body. Breathe out to release.

Fish pose (be careful of the piranha fish!!)- lie back with two blocks (or equivalent) under your shoulders, one under your head. Bear your 'piranha teeth' and flap your 'fins'.  To come out of the pose roll to one side and come up. Amazing fact - piranhas have teeth and powerful flesh tearing bites.

Dolphin (the river dolphins use echolocation(a learning opportunity here!) to find fish to eat in the muddy river waters) - come onto all fours then come down your elbows and interlace your fingers. Breathe in, tuck your toes, breathe out lift your hips. Sway your hips a little from side to side as you swim down the river.  To come out, breathe in, drop your knees to the mat, breathe out take your bottom back to your heels, unclasp your hands, turn your head to one side and take a rest.  Amazing fact - river dolphins can sleep with just half their brains - the other half stays alert!!

Jaguar (the largest cat in the Americas) - when you are ready come back to all fours, breathe in and stretch out your right arm and left leg.  Make your right hand into a fist and roar!! Repeat with your left arm and right leg then take a rest like before turning your head to the other side this time. Amazing fact - jaguars can climb trees!!

Lizard (there are many reptiles in the rainforest including iguanas) - come back to all fours and bring your right foot forward between your hands. Bring your right hand inside your right foot and 'walk' your right foot out to the right and turn your toes out.  Come down onto your forearms, crouching low like a lizard. Amazing fact- lizards flick their tongues out to catch bugs for their dinner.  How far can you stick your tongue out? Don't forget to be a lizard with your other foot forward.

Cobra pose (there are many snakes in the rainforest including Anrwardacondas and Emerald Tree Boas so be careful!) - come down onto your tummy and with your forehead on the mat bring your hands to the mat by your shoulders.  Inhale press into your hands and come up hissing like a snake. When you are ready, press back bringing your forehead to the mat, your bottom back to your heels and make yourself as round as a jungle rock. Amazing fact- Emerald tree boas coil over a branch with their heads resting in the centre.  They can catch a bird in flight.

Frog (Poison arrow frogs can be brightly coloured ) - come into a squat position, interlace your fingers interlaced except for the first finger on each hand which points and cross the thumbs.  Breathe in, lift your arms up, breathe out lift your bottom up as your arms come down. Amazing fact - Poison arrow frogs secrete toxins from their skin. They get their name because their secretions were thought to be used to put on the tips of arrows. 

Monkey- make fists with your hands and bring your right fist into your right armpit and lean to the left. Take your right hand down as you bring your left hand up into your left armpit and lean to the right.  Keep going.  Can you 'oo-oo' like a monkey? Amazing fact- Amazon Howler monkeys are the largest monkeys in the Amazon rain forest and also the loudest land animal in the world.  

Eagle (the Amazon eagle lives in the canopy of the forest) - stand tall and swing your right dowarm under your left. Either bring the backs of your hands together or bring your left arm in front of your right and bring your palms together.  Softly bend both knees a little and bring your right foot to the outside of your left or tuck your right foot behind your left calf.When you are ready to come out of the pose stretch out your right leg and your eagle wings and 'fly' like an eagle. Don't forget to be an eagle on the other side.  Amazing fact - Harpy eagles live in the canopy and prey on monkeys and sloths. They have a wing span of 2 meters!!!

Sloth - lie back on your mat and pretend you are holding on to a branch upside down. You might want to wrap your legs around the branch and hold on tight. Amazing fact - Sloths move very slowly to conserve energy. They have algae growing on their fur that helps keep them camouflaged.  

To end - lie back on your mat, close your eyes and imagine being in the Amazon rain forest. What can you see, hear, feel and smell? 

When you are ready to do something else, take a deep breath, open your eyes and stretch like a jungle cat. 

Have fun!

Janet x

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