Cultures around the globe have traditions that celebrate family, connection, and renewal. This kids’ yoga class focuses on those themes as well the beauty of the natural world during winter.
Open with a discussion of the four seasons, winter solstice marking the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere as well as the first day of winter, and favorite holiday traditions. Integrate science by observing the changing weather and noting winter as a natural time for mindful reflection before the growth and expansion of spring renewal.
Have students noticed animals busy at work? Animals in nature respond to mid-winter too. Some hibernate (let children suggest which ones do) and some don’t. Read: Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner.
Use chime listening as a centering activity.
Now let’s imagine a peaceful cabin on a snowy day. What does it look like?
Even though each day has the same number of hours (how many?), on the Winter Solstice we have the fewest hours of daylight. The sun sets really early! When it is dark outside, we need to bring the light inside. Long ago, that meant lighting candles. Practice Candle Breath, which can be found in Lisa Flynn’s Yoga for Children book.
When we go out in the cold, practicing Power Breath helps us to remember the light and warmth of the sun.
The sun is always there to provide for us even when it is cold and hiding behind a cloud! Take several rounds of Sun Salutations or follow along with one of the following songs:
Review the topics from the opening discussion regarding holiday traditions. Possible postures could be Pine Tree (tree posture with hands wide/low for evergreen branches under which some animals hunker down for the longest, cold night of the year), Wreath (a wreath signifies the cycle of seasons. Try Wheel Posture or practice Circle of Trees as a representation), outside fun like Sledding (locust and reverse plank), Snowman Building (roll like a ball), or Snowball Fights (low lunge with throwing arms), holiday baking (Kira Willey song: The Mixing Bowl).
Retell the story Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner while incorporating the following postures: Crescent Moon, Tree, Skier, Squirrel, Owl, Vole (mouse), Frog, Beaver (table with shins/feet together for tail), Fox (balancing table with one leg out for tail, do both sides), Bear, Bee. Which creatures hibernate for winter? Model hibernation in Child’s pose! Lastly, enjoy a Campfire (firelog pose) under the Stars.
Close with Big White Star found on the I Grow with Yoga CD and in your Yoga & Mindfulness for Children teacher training manual.
Provide students with a journal to draw or write about their meaningful traditions. Holiday-themed mandalas are also a favorite takeaway. If possible, acknowledge Winter Solstice by sending each student home with a color-changing tea light to encourage mindfulness practices at home.
Sally Delisle, E-RYT 500, YACEP, RCYT, serves as Director of ChildLight Yoga Teacher Trainings, is a ChildLight Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Trainer, and a Yoga 4 Classrooms Instructor. Sally is the creator/co-author of the ChildLight Yoga and Mindfulness Advanced Teaching Concepts and contributor to the Tweens and Teens and ChildLight Yoga in Schools Teacher Training manuals. She began studying and practicing yoga in 1993 after earning a degree in Fine Arts/Dance and a BA in Psychology… read more here.
Jennifer Mueller, MA, E-RYT, RCYT, has been teaching yoga students of all ages since 2008 and directs a children’s and family yoga program in Washington DC. She is also a prenatal yoga instructor, childbirth educator, a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) through Infant Massage USA, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Jen completed her adult yoga teacher training at Willow Street Yoga in Takoma Park, MD.
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