25. June 2016 – 12:58
When I am at Shri jasnath Ashram in Rajastan, I regularly teach the village children in yoga. The 8 to 13-year-olds have a very different, everyday approach to yoga, because their upbringing is shaped by the Hindu religion and spirituality. In addition, unlike westernized teenagers, they have a very good body awareness – Chakrasana- the wheel- almost all children can do, the boys show me perfect peacocks and scorpions and the girls balance quietly in the tree pose.
There is no problem with chanting mantras, starting the classes with “Om” or even doing a Medition. After 10 classes only, every cild was able to do the full san salutation, twenty asanas and some simple pranayama.
But in one thing the Indian children do not differ from the German children: they also love games and creativity in the classroom.
Below I present my most popular children’s yoga games and ideas:
- Partner Yoga
Adults avoid direct physical contact with strangers and prefer to be alone on their yoga mat. Children, on the other hand, love to work in a team and are additionally motivated to get into the complicated positions. Especially in partner yoga there are bigger and smaller challenges that require good coordination and balance. At the same time, team work is trained. Due to the pull and light pressure in the partner asanas, the children also learn to align better in the room.
- Yoga Memorie
Since the many asanas have an “animal name”, it is a good idea to paint the animal on one card and write the name of the animal on a corresponding map. If a child reveals two cards with a picture and name, they have to show the Asana. First, the child receives a point. As an advanced variaation, all children have to do the Asana under the guidance of the child who drew the cards.
- Yoga Suitcase
This game is particularly well suited before the start of major holidays. The children are told that yoga is always good for body and soul and that it is best not to take longer breaks , even on holiday – in order to stay in balance and stretching. So they should pack their suitcase with yoga asanas, which they should then take with them on holiday. The children are in a circle. The first child begins to pack the suitcase with an asana: “I pack my suitcase with a snake.” Then the child shows the snake and all the children join in. Then it’s the second child’s turn. It repeats the first asana and packs a second one, for example the fish and shows the fish.
That’s how it goes on and on. It is important that the children remember all asanas from the beginning, the sequence remains and there are no repetitions. If there are not too many children, it can go on several times.
- Yoga Freeze
The favorite game of my Indian children: I play music (here in India of course Bollywood music, but in a yoga classes certainly also mantras and khirtan fit in) and the children dance until I stop the music. Then the children have to go quickly into an asana. Whoever is not able to do one is eliminated. In addition, it is particularly important to be as creative as possible in the Asana election, because if the Asana doubles, also these children are out. The game goes on until there is only one child left.
- Laughter Yoga
Laughter Yoga is another thing that is rather difficult with adults and for children again very easy. I like to do this small unit of about 5 minutes whenever the children get restless. After the laughing yoga session, I let them come to sleeping yoga- in Shavasana.
Here is the sequence:
- The children sit in a circle and should at first only smile at each other without showing their teeth and without making any noise.
- In the second step, the children should laugh. But beware: teeth may now be shown, but the laughter should happen in complete silence. A challenge for children that is all the more fun!
- Well, in the last step, the laughter may finally burst out loud. Everyone can laugh as much and as loudly as they want.
Now it can happen that the children can no longer stop. Here it helps to chant loudly the Om, in which the children tune in.
- Yoga Dance
Here is another of my favorite classes, which can even be expanded into several yoga classes. Choose a nice yoga music. The aim is to develop a beautiful and creative and harmonious mandala dance, similar to water ballet. The individual elements consist of yoga asanas and are to be creatively assembled.
The first class is for introduction. All the children are in a circle and the yoga teacher leads a dance by leading the asanas and the children follow. This can be repeated a few times. Afterwards, individual children can volunteer and intuitively lead their own dance.
In the following classes, the children should form smaller groups (about 4 children) and develop their own Asana choreography. It becomes a particularly nice practice when these dances can be performed later in front of the parents!
- Yoga Animals
As already mentioned, most Asanas have names of animals. This is especially good for children’s yoga classes: children love to imitate animals. The children draw an animal image one after the other, then go into the position and then loudly make the corresponding animal noise.
- Painting mandala
A meditative class for children, away from the Asana practice. The children can choose their favorite mandala and then paint it with colorful pens to quiet music. With my children it works wonders: Immediately the wild rattlesnake becomes silent and everyone is totally concentrated during the creative activity!
Older children can of course create their own mandala with a circle.
- Sun Salute Song
Children love to dance and sing and have more fun in Surya Namaskar, with a song along. I found here a great sun salutation song.