The other day someone asked me, “But what do you actually teach little kids in a yoga class? What do you want them to learn?” It’s a great question. Such a great question, with so many possible answers, that I … Continue reading
Sticks up! is a musical game that is especially fun to play with preschoolers, younger school-age kids, and family groups. When I play this game in class, I bring this lovely xylophone (which my percussionist son is kind enough to share … Continue reading
Kids love ice cream!
Kids love silliness!
Kids love savasana!
Yes, you read that right.
I used to be surprised when kids begged for a longer savasana at the end of class (or begged to begin with one!) especially when the begging was coming from the most movement-seeking, attentionally-challenged kids in the class. But now I’ve come to expect their enthusiasm. After a moment or two of settling in, it feels fantastic to lay still but not be going to bed. It’s not often that any of us make space to truly quiet down and have no demands or distractions to respond to. With the the lights dimmed, and action quieted, the sensory load on growing brains is diminished, and kids seem hungry for that pause.
Some adult savasanas are done in silence, and I appreciate the good of that, the “truly nothing” happening in the room.
However, music, as they say, hath charms…and the right music can set a soothing tone, influence deeper, slower breathing, encourage kids to focus their thoughts, or make it clear that big feelings are okay.
The music I choose for savasana depends on the age of the kids, the themes we’ve explored that day, and the specific group I’m working with. Since we often begin with focused breathing or a guided visualization, that’s a good place for wordless music. Once we’re simply resting, I like to add a song or two with a peaceful, encouraging, open-hearted message, or one that suggests some easy mental imagery for kids to follow. Some of my current faves are listed below. Share yours in the comments section!
Savasana music – instrumental
Tortoise from Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens
Lullaby (Sandman) by George Winston
Accordion Bells by Leo Kottke
Farewell (From the Million Dollar Arm Soundtrack) by A.R. Rahman
Love Me by Yiruma
Wishful Thinking by The Album Leaf
Brooks Cabin (from the Fronteir House Soundtrack) by Edward Bilous
Prelude and Yodel by Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Savasana music – with lyrics
Colors by Kira Wiley
Blackbird by The Beatles
Take a Little Walk with Me by Alastair Moock (with Elizabeth Mitchell)
Little Boat by Jennifer Gasoi
Rainbow by Charlie Hope
Queen of the Earth, Child of the Stars by Leela and Ellie Grace
Oh, Watch the Stars by Elizabeth Mitchell (with Aoife O’Donovan)
Breathe by The Rockdoves
Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
In The Clouds by Laurie Berkner
Quiet One by Big Little Lions
Pink Moon by Nick Drake
The Best Day by Taylor Swift
Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson
(kids 10 and up seem to especially love these last two)
Post by post, I seem to be writing a guide called 101 Fun Yoga Games to Play with Pom Poms.
Idea #72: Pom Pom Popcorn Scramble! This is a great energy-dispersing, good-feeling-generating physical challenge for all ages.
Here’s what you need:
1 pot, preferably with a lid
A whole bunch of pom poms
Popcorn by the Barenaked Ladies (silly name, yes, and this song is from their excellent, quirky children’s album Lunchtime) cued up on the sound system.
Here’s how we play:
• Fill a pan with popcorn pom poms.
• Remind the kids about any rules during the game.
I usually have three rules:
1) Once the music starts, sit as still as possible in easy pose until you hear the singer say the word POP three times. Then get up and get ready to move!
2) Each time we play, we have one fun rule about retrieving popcorn, such as: only one or two kernels at a time; you have to hop or skip or tiptoe to the pom poms and crawl back to the pot; you have to balance pom poms on your head to bring them back to the pot; you can only retrieve pom poms with your toes, etc.
3) When the music stops, everyone returns to their mats and sits in easy pose.
• Start the music! Hold the pot out over a pretend stove, and dramatically act out turning up the heat. When the singer starts to say POP, remove the lid, and throw the “popcorn” all over the room!!! (Little kids especially love this part – a grown-up, making a big mess and throwing stuff? Awesome!) Kids retrieve all the popcorn, according to whatever “rule” has been imposed.
• Do it again! This is one of those games that always ends in “Do it again!” And, like the Water Balloon game, it leaves you with happy, laughing kids who have just expended some silly energy and who end the game in easy pose, breathing deeply and ready to transition into the next activity.
This time of year, kids come into yoga classes with energy to spare.
A warm-up game played to the song Water Balloon by the Okee Dokee Brothers is a great way to burn off extra wiggles while encouraging kids to notice how their bodies are moving, turn on their self-control, and explore the concepts tense and relaxed.
Here’s how we play:
• First, we pretend to hold water balloons in our hands and talk about how they move and jiggle in a loose, floppy way. We stand up and practice moving our bodies that way, letting arms hang loose and allowing the torso and head plenty of give and sway.
• I tell the kids that as long as they hear the Water Balloon song playing they can run around the room (of course, be sure the running they do is safe and appropriate for the space you’re in), letting the top part of their body move like a water balloon, muscles as relaxed as possible.
• When the music stops kids run back to their mats and stand sideways, in Star Pose. They make every part of their body as tense as possible. I say something like: “Tense your feet and grab your mat with your toes! Tighten your leg muscles! Suck in your belly muscles! Arm muscles tight, tight, tight! Tight fists! And squinch up your face like you just ate 300 lemons! Hold tight for 3…2…1…”
• When the music comes back on, kids continue running around with super relaxed “water balloon bodies.”
• At the end of the song, we all return to our mats and “splat” belly down like a burst water balloon.
• Because this is a very short song, I make the running-around bursts fairly short, and we usually do the song twice in a row.
• The water balloon warm-up will leave you with happy kids laying on their bellies, breathing deeply, and usually more focused and relaxed than when you began. You’re ready to transition into a quieter, more focused game or activity.
Have fun, and prepare for many requests for this song!