Pose 1: Hairy Scary Monster Claws
Sit with your legs together, straight out in front of you. Our hands are our hairy scary monster claws. Walk them down to your toes, or as far as you can, and take a bite, “Chomp, chomp.” Crawl back up and practice your scary monster faces “Grrrrr.” Repeat. When you have this down, try tucking one leg into a triangle with your knee facing out, and the bottom of your foot on the inside of your other leg, which stays straight out. Can you still make your scary monster face in this position?
This is a fun pose for being a little silly, and getting children’s energy out. Not only is it a chance for them to stretch their leg muscles, they get in a little bit of dramatic play at the same time! For much younger children or infants, try showing them a silly monster face and hands to make them laugh. Gently move their fingers open and shut to help them make their “claws.”
Pose 2: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Stand on your feet with your legs a little more than hip-width apart. Spread your arms wide up in the air. Open and close your hands, and flutter your fingers like stars. Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” either as a group with no music, or together with the song on the Kira Willey “Dance for the Sun” CD. Sway your body gently back and forth, shifting your weight from one foot to the next.
This is a pose for calming, to soothe children before a nap, or bring them down a little if they are upset or anxious. Try turning off a few lights before you do this pose to really set the mood. Infants and young children can lie on their backs instead, while you gently move their limbs side to side and sing them the song.
Pose 3: Ending Meditation
Lie on your backs with your hands by your sides and legs extended. Breathe in deeply; “Smell the roses” and out; “Blow out the candles.” Have the lights lowered and use a soft speaking voice. Play the “Namaste” song from the Kira Willey “Dance for the Sun” CD, or another mellow song of your choosing. Do a few stretches from this position, with arms reaching up as far as you can, and legs stretching out. Finally, sit up as a group, and take one final deep breath together.
This is a calming pose like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, but it is also the perfect pose to bring things to a close in a way that helps children understand when something is over. You could do it with a group to end each day before their parents and family come pick them up, you could do it as a transition into naptime or other activities, or to help a child who is upset or anxious move past it. With infants or young children, have them lie on their backs and gently rest your hand on their tummies as they rise and fall, while you look down at them and breathe deeply. Show them your breath, and bring awareness to theirs.
Thanks to Elizabeth Gach for all of the fantastic yoga information and photo opportunities, and to University Avenue Discovery Center Preschool for allowing us to share!