Updated Mar 22, 2023
Goal: To introduce the basic concepts of yoga
Note: Ask parents to ensure children are wearing comfortable, stretchy athletic wear for the meeting.
Enjoy your unit’s usual opening and explain to the group that they are going to become yogis/ yoginis tonight! Ask the children what they know about yoga. Is it a new invention? Can it be for everyone?
Answers: Yoga is exercise, breathing and relaxation all in one. It is not a religion, a diet or a competitive sport. A boy who does yoga is called a yogi, while a girl who practices yoga is called a yogini – and that will be us tonight! Yoga actually began over 5,000 years ago in India and has been passed down through generations to us today. Everyone can do yoga! All you need is some empty space to put a mat and your own body (bare feet are suggested). No special equipment or skills are required.
The concept of relaxation can be made easier for the kids with a relaxation prop. If you have different colours and fabrics of socks available allow each child to choose a sock for his or her project to make it more personalized. Have each child scrunch the tube of the sock down, pour rice or flax seeds into the sock and then hold the top open. The leader can then go around and pour 2 drops of essential oil into the sock, unroll the tube, hold the sock closed and shake it to mix the scent around. Tie a tight knot in the top of the sock to keep it sealed. The sock should feel full, but not stuffed tightly. Optional: To finish the project off, add a piece of ribbon around the knot for decoration. Encourage the children to sniff the sock and feel the calming heaviness of it against their foreheads, cheeks, eyes or hearts.
Note: Do not heat in the microwave.
Have the children stretch and wiggle around to loosen and warm up their muscles playfully for one or two minutes before beginning.
Explain to the group that to visualize something means to intentionally form a picture in your mind using your imagination. Visualising is an important part of yoga.
Instruct the children to lie down on their backs and place their new sock pillows over their eyes, helping them to relax. Then, describe a scene for them to imagine in detail. For example, “Picture yourself lying on a sandy beach. It is peaceful and quiet; the only sound you can hear is the steady pattern of ocean waves rolling on to the shore. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, making you happy and peaceful.”
Now it’s time to try out some yoga postures. It is best to have bare feet to reduce the risk of slipping. Move slowly and carefully and never do anything that is painful. Suggest to your group that they visualize the animal or form each pose is named after, to make them easier. Narrate the following descriptions:
Begin by standing tall and straight at the top of your mat with your feet separated hip-width apart. Arms dangle comfortably by your sides. Keep your hands un-clenched and relax as you roll your shoulders slightly back. Stand steady as a mountain as you slowly breathe in and out through your nose. Feel as if your feet are fixed to the ground, while your body towers upwards to the sky like a mountain.
From mountain pose, bring your hands together at the middle of your chest, palms together at the level of your heart. Your elbows point down. Now straighten your arms above your head, palms still touching, like the top of a pointy pine tree. Breathe slowly in and out. After a few breaths, spread your arms apart like the wide branches of an oak tree. Hold for two more breaths then release arms down.
Imagine yourself as a cat stretching after a nice nap. Come onto your hands and knees with your hands just forward of your shoulders and knees under your hips. Breathe in and arch your back upward, with your chest forward and tailbone reaching up to the ceiling so that your back is dropped in a curve. Look up. As you breathe out, curve your back in the opposite direction. Drop your head and look down as your back rounds your tailbone tucks under. Repeat once or twice more.
Step 1: Imagine yourself as a stretching cat. Come onto your hands and knees with your hands just forward of your shoulders and knees under your hips. Breathe in and arch your back towards the floor, with your chest forward and tailbone reaching up to the ceiling so that your back is dropped in a curve.
Since this pose is a forward bending pose, be careful to move slowly so that your head doesn’t feel dizzy. Visualize a dog stretching and reaching its front paws out. Begin on your hands and knees. Have your knees and feet body width apart and spread your fingers wide. Tuck your toes under and lift up, straightening your legs as much as possible, so that you are in an upside down “V” position. Push your tailbone up toward the ceiling as you try to gently stretch your heels towards the ground. Don’t worry if they don’t quite touch; being on tip toes is OK too. Press into the ground with your hands, and let your head and neck relax and hang down between your shoulders. Hold for a few breaths and then lower yourself back to the starting position.
Imagine you are as flexible as a snake. Lie down on your tummy with your forehead touching the floor and your legs straight out behind you. Place your elbows, forearms and palms on the floor, just under your shoulders. Push into the ground with your elbows, arms and hands as you slowly raise your head and shoulders off the ground. Slide your shoulder blades down away from your ears towards your hips. Look up at the ceiling. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting posture.
Imagine that the curve of your back is the domed shell of a tortoise. Begin in a kneeling position and then drop your hips so that you are sitting back on the heels of your feet. Lower your forehead to rest on the mat. Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms facing flat down. Feel the weight of your body resting on your legs. Breathe and relax for as long as is comfortable.
Unlike the traditional version of musical chairs, Musical Mats is non-competitive, in keeping with the spirit of yoga. There are enough mats for everyone for the entire duration of the game. If the 6 yoga postures were all new to the group tonight this game can be a memory challenge. Refreshing each other’s recollections of how to do each pose can be a co-operative exercise.
To begin, place a card with the name of one of the previous yoga poses on the top of each mat. Have the children stand in a circle on the outside of the mats. The leader starts the music and as it plays the children can walk, skip or hop around the mats. As soon as the leader stops the music each child claims a mat (no running required) and performs the yoga pose on the mat’s card. The leader watches and helps the children to perform their poses, giving reminders and encouragement.
Option One: Yogurt, fruit and granola.
Option Two: If there is a kitchen available, make healthy berry smoothies.
Makes 4 cups (1 L)
Congratulate the group on being open minded and trying new and healthy things!
Enjoy your regular Closing.