The end of the school year is a perfect time to discuss transformation and reflect on the many obvious and subtle ways we have changed since last September. Some changes we have sought out, others may have come as a surprise. We are all constantly learning, growing, and expanding to take on new challenges, absorb new skills, and create opportunities.
“Transformation isn't a future event, It's a present day activity.” - Jillian Michaels
When we look to nature, we can see that transformation is happening around us all the time. From the shifts in seasons to the water cycle to life cycles of plants and animals, we need not look far to notice that to live is to change.
But change, while inevitable, is not always comfortable. True and lasting transformation occurs when we step our of our comfort zone to face challenges and difficulty. This is where our yoga and mindfulness practices can help us with a reminder to breathe through the momentary discomfort, to be flexible and go with the flow, and to connect to the deepest part of ourselves which is light, truth and unchanging.
Growth and transformation occur not by changing who we are, but as we summon the courage to be who we are. - Katrina Kenison
Incorporating yoga activities that highlight things that change and transform is a great way to start the conversation. Invite children to observe things changing in nature first and then ask them to consider ways that they have changed.
Try this: Volcanos
Stand tall like a mountain. Reach down and find your lava. Sing "Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble...BOOM!" and explode into star pose stretching your arms and legs wide. Jump back to mountain to become a dormant volcano. Repeat.
Animals and Plants
Bring yoga and music into a discussion of how plants and animals transform. Sing and move along with our song "Grow" to observe the plant life cycle or make yoga tadpoles that turn into frogs or caterpillars into butterflies.
Try this: Tadpoles into Frogs
Start in lying on your belly in locust to make a tadpole. Invite the children to come up with ways a tadpole might swim (extending arms forward, wiggling around, swishing your tail). Then press back into squat (malasana) to turn into a frog. Invite the children to hop around the room or from mat to mat, while sticking out their tongues to catch flies. Come back to tadpole and rest. Repeat.
Try this: Caterpillar into Butterfly
Start with a caterpillar walk - From forward fold, walk your hands forward into plank and then your feet up to hands. Walk feet back to plank and then your hands back to forward fold. Hang and sway in forward fold to make a chrysalis. Roll up to stand, stretch your wings and fly like a butterfly in warrior 3 pose.
In many yoga traditions, practitioners flow from one pose into the next to the rhythm of their breathing. Many of our favorite Yo Re Mi songs incorporate this. Try moving between Bicycle and Bridge below or try a Sun Dance to sing and breathe through several poses.
If you have read this far, you are clearly passionate about sharing yoga and mindfulness with children. We would love to have you join us for our upcoming Children's Yoga Teacher Training in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about transforming your work with children here.