“Wild Things” Yoga…A Tribute to Maurice Sendak

As I was eating breakfast this morning before teaching my preschool yoga classes, I learned the sad news of Maurice Sendak’s passing. Almost immediately, I changed my class plans for the day. After all, Mr. Sendak is a true inspiration, a bright light in the world of imagery and imagination for children and adults alike. It was decided. Today we would explore our “Wild” side with the book, Where the Wild Things Are!

I introduced the story to the children, explaining that Max was having one of those “wild” days. Do we ever have days when we feel particularly crazy or wild, or act out? Do we sometimes get into trouble if we chase the dog? We were ready to tap into our wild sides!

Here are some notes from our classes today:

We began in wolf pose. After reading the first page we howled at the moon.

When his mom sent Max to bed without supper, we were mad and sad in mouse pose.

As the forest grew, so did we! As shrubs on our knees to a great big forest of trees (tree pose). We held hands and tried extending our leg.

As the ceiling hung with vines, we swung side to side on our vines!

Max’s private boat arrived and we sang in boat pose, until we landed where…

The Wild Things Are!

We roared and clawed and showed our “terrible teeth!”

With “Be Still!” we sat in easy pose, with our eyes wide.

As Max was named King of All Wild Things, we put on our imaginary crowns, and practiced “King Dancer Pose.” Try not to let your crown fall!

And then…

“Let the wild rumpus start!”

To ‘Jungle Boogie,’ we truly let out our wild sides, dancing on our mats. When the music stopped, we practiced

Crescent Pose, leading into Half Moon Pose

Swinging from The Trees

Runner’s Lunge

As Max became lonely and The Wild Things slept, we sat again in easy pose, with our hands at our heart, and breathed Love and Blessings to someone special.

We took a roller coaster boat home, lined up one behind the other, until finally Max made it H(om)e, where his supper was still hot.

After the book, we talked about how we sometimes feel wild like Max, but no matter what, we are always loved. We then practiced finding our “calm,” while practicing our Dragon’s Breath and our Take Five, ending in a walk to the clouds where we rested in savasana.

Rest in Peace Mr. Sendak, and Thank You for allowing our imaginations to ROAR! Now, Let The Wild Rumpus Start!

Namaste Families. Love one another.

 

 

Friday Class Reflections

In an effort to keep all my Yogi Playground parents up to date with all the fun themes and happenings in our circle, I’ll be posting Friday Class Reflections each week.

Oh March! Comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb….much like we do when we practice yoga! This month our classes remind us to take time to breathe, and of course this week we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day! What are some symbols we see around St. Patty’s Day? What does it mean to be lucky? What of this pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? This week, we meditated on Luck, or as I call them, Blessings. What are we lucky to have in our lives?

For my preschool classes, we played a game where we learned some new, and reviewed some familiar, poses. These included Rainbow Pose (with a partner!), 3 and 4 leaf clover pose, pot o’gold pose, and leprechaun where we had the opportunity to show off some of our own cool ‘tricks’ on our mats (thanks to one of my first graders who reminded me of the Leprechaun! Our children are so wonderfully creative).

In my first grade class we also explored these poses in more challenging ways, and told a group story of The Warrior and his search for the pot of gold. Our Warrior was finding himself in all sorts of predicaments, but when he finally went home and was still for a moment, he realized he had the pot o’gold the whole time, for his life was full of luck and blessings. He didn’t need more, but was appreciative of what he already had.

Our yogis also explored the Singing Bowl (our own pot of gold). The room filled with blessings as each  yogi tapped the bowl and filled it with something for which they are thankful.

As one preschooler said, “I’m thankful for all that surrounds me, and my teachers and yoga.” Heart melt.

All my classes went home with their own Pot O’Gold drawing, inspired by Alluem Yoga Kids.

It reads,

Rainbows hold treasures for both young & old, but what’s inside my pot is more precious than gold.”

How would you fill your pot?

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and many Blessings to All!

 

Take a HIKE!

Winter in LA? Ha! I chuckle. The weather has been so beautiful lately and has really inspired me to spend a majority of my time outside. One of my favorite outdoor activities? Hiking! And it’s never too early to share this with our little yogis. Of course many of my classes are in the schools, inside, on our mats. So let’s bring the hike to the classroom…

To prepare for this class, I packed a backpack full of materials, both found and handmade…a stick, a rock, a toy airplane, bark from a tree, a toy bug, as well as cards with images (flower, cave, turtle, crow, eagle, creek, the list is endless really). And yes, I packed an empty juice bottle. <sigh>

Place the backpack in the center of the circle. (Note, a basket is great too.)

We begin getting ready for the hike. To music, we “dress” for the day- boots, hat, sunscreen, bug repellent (tapping our bodies, waking us up), a backpack. Don’t forget a map, compass (ask the kids what should we bring)! And we are ready to go.

:: Let’s first greet the sun on this new beautiful day (Sun salutation, variation dependent on age).

:: For younger classes we sing “Hiking, Hiking, hop, hop, hop….” song. For older classes we simply hike on our mats, perhaps starting uphill, looong slow strides, yoga runs, tiptoe. One student chooses an item from the backpack and so our adventure begins! Students continue to take turns choosing one item from the backpack.

For example, if we pull out the “creek” card we may need to hop rocks, wade through the water, look at the fish, turtles, etc with corresponding poses.

If we find the cave we become brave warriors entering the cave together. Perhaps we find bats! Maybe sleeping mice.

Look up! Eagles and/or crows overhead! Look down…bugs, mud.

If you pull out the bark, we become trees. A stick? Stick pose! You get the idea đŸ™‚

This class becomes a Choose Your Own Adventure of sorts, and sparks great conversation and creativity. Don’t be afraid to let your yogis veer from the bag. Listen to their ideas!

And yes, if the empty juice bottle is pulled. We frown at the litter. But we recycle, pick up any other “trash” around us, and discuss the importance of leaving no trace, only footsteps.

:: As it gets dark and the moon appears, we begin to lay down under the stars for a camp out. Rather than candlestick pose, we use flashlight pose for the mountains (candlestick variation making small circles with our legs, great core strengthener).

Potential poses introduced/practiced: stick, mouse/rock, flower, tree, airplane, resting bugs, warrior II, road runner, half moon, star, eagle, crow, turtle….to name only a few!

This is also a great time to practice Lizard on a Rock, and to have fun hopping over “sticks” and “rocks” as the children take turns!

There’s so much that can be added and/or modified for this class! What would you do with your yoginis?

Yoga in Spaaaaace…

Does your child come home from school and roar like a lion with his tongue sticking out? Or sing about being a warrior, brave and strong? Or perhaps she takes a moment to sleep like a butterfly? And you think, ‘What exactly is happening in my child’s yoga class?’

Yoga for children is so natural, and a wonderful way to tap into their expansive imaginations. Yogi Playground programs are centered around themes and stories, all the while incorporating poses, breath, and the general principle of Practicing Loving Kindness toward self and others.

OK, so what actually happens?

Below is an outline of one of my favorite classes, particularly for my older yoginis, but it can be used in any age class with some minor changes in story and poses. Let’s begin….

An Outer Space Yoga Adventure

(For this class I like to use The Star Wars theme song, music from Tron, and Daft Punk)

We begin in easy pose, 3 breaths.

For warm-up today, we are going to take notice of the living beings on our planet. What do we see around us? Trees? Flowers? Turtles? Deer? (the list goes on and on, with corresponding poses, twisting, stretching, balancing, breathing). We finish our warm up with a Thank You to the sun (surya namaskar, sun salutation variations).

We are now going to take our adventure Out of This World!

Let’s buckle up in our rocket ships (chair pose, twisting as we fasten our seat belts).

Countdown 5-4-3-2-1…BLAST OFF (spin and find balance in Warrior 3).

What do we see as we orbit? The stars! (step back in warrior 2, transition to triangle, looking up to our hand as we “twinkle” our fingers…note: my older yogis do not wish to twinkle, ever. So we become shooting stars.)

What else do we see? Some ideas….

The moon! (crescent, half moon pose)

Seated stars, twisting as we chant “Star Light Star Bright….” and close eyes, connect within, make a silent wish, breathe it out into the universe.

Asteroids (forward fold, arms clasped behind)

Meteors (rolling out our backs, forward, back roll)

Planets (wheel, backbending)

Again, the possibilities are endless as we incorporate everyone’s ideas. Depending on the size of the class sometimes we “visit” planets (or yoga mats) and find how we move on the particular planet (twisting? curving? folding?)

And now we meet our friendly Robot or Alien friends! They’ve invited us to play some games…Ideas….

Take Me to Your Leader (a seated, focusing game)

Pass the Planet (passing a ball around the circle using our feet, or leaning to the side, or over/under)

Robot Freeze Dance (freezing in a pose from earlier)

So much fun but it is now time to say good-bye to our new friends and return to our planet Earth. This time it is now night so we will lay down in our rocket ships.

Laying on our backs, we first clean the windows of the rockets (window washers, legs side to side). Let’s check the controls (plow into shoulder stand). Take one more walk around the rocket making sure all is well for take-off (bicycling legs, space walk).

Finding our way onto our backs, closing our eyes, focusing attention to our third eyes (Guided meditation as we gently return to Earth, envisioning our homes, our windows, our beds, finding our way onto our beds).

We close with a short discussion of our planet, how we can take care of our Mother Earth, and a gentle sound of “H(om)e.”

Namaste.