Following are some class planning ideas you can use to honor our amazing Olympic athletes during a Children's Yoga Class! You can find most of the poses mentioned below in Lisa Flynn, our founder's book,Yoga for Children with some additional classroom-friendly variations in her Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck.
Opening: You might begin class by having a discussion about what it takes to be a elite athlete, tying in how yoga and mindfulness can help prepare athletes mentally and physically for the rigors of training as well as achieving focus and calm during competitions, and more. Do a google search for 'athletes who practice yoga' or 'olympians who practice yoga' and bring some clips and examples to share perhaps with quotes from athletes about how the practice of yoga and mindfulness supports them. Here's a recent Yoga Journal article about a handful of inspiring 2018 Olympic hopefuls in which they share how yoga has helped them get to the games!
Flying Bird Breath: Many athletes use breathing exercises, (pranayama), to ease the pre-race jitters. Begin with Flying Bird Breath (arms slowly rise on the inhale, lower on the exhale), soaring over the olympic stadium to get a bird’s eye view of your race course, and visualize yourself doing your best.
Ski Jump: Begin with Down Dog at the mountain. Have the children get into partners and ride the elevator (chair lift) to the top. Get into chair pose with arms straight out, then jump up on tip toes. Do this several times.
Bob Sled or Luge: Lie on belly, arms and legs outstretched (locust) or flip over and practice a flattened version of boat pose
Bob Sled Team: Have students line up sitting, each one behind the other, and as a team lean left, right, left…
Speed Skating: Lunging steps around room with hands clasped behind.
Snowboarding: Warrior II, and an Owl pose to “catch air.”
Figure Skating: Dancer pose, twirl around (hop/balance on one foot and turn), end with Eagle pose
Partners Skating: Partner Airplane ride, Back Pack from latest Yoga Pretzels card deck, Twin Trees, Warrior Friends, Twin Dragons, Partner Triangle, Double Dancer, make up your own.
Take time to do another breath to get ready for the big game. Conductor Breath is energizing.
1) Curling – Use a big sponge like for a car wash, lunge around the room and slide the sponge with your feet.
2) Relay race ski race with two teams, jump over yoga strap from side to side, with both legs together, all the way down the mountain. Do a Downward Dog when you get to the bottom of the mountain. Complete 2 whole courses.
Take away: Medals, of course! Have a ceremony where one child gives another his or her medal. Make your own from scratch or use these from our friends at Oriental Trading Company (or local Dollar Store), or make your own as a fun craft activity!
The 2018 Winter Olympics begins Feb. 9th in PyeongChang! Psst, that could be a whole other class plan theme…
Let the games begin!
By Lisa Flynn, Founder & CEO, ChildLight Yoga & Yoga 4 Classrooms