Many yoga positions are inspired by animals and stimulate suppleness and strength, and all aspects of yoga are included in the games: relaxation, breathing, concentration, meditation, self-awareness, and visualization. Concepts like karma, chakra, and the elements are explained and developed without too much confusing detail. The games in this book can also be used to increase children's concentration and self-esteem, and to stimulate them to express more creativity, imagination, and better social skills.
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The Yoga Adventure for ChildrenPlaying, Dancing, Moving, Breathing, Relaxing
By Helen Purperhart
Hunter House Inc., PublishersISBN: 978-0-89793-471-8
Chapter OneExercises, Games, and Stories
Warm-Up Exercises-Dance of the Joints
This section contains short warm-up exercises to prepare the mind and body for yoga. Warming up will help muscles get ready for physical activity and reduce the risk of injury.
These warm-up exercises have several important benefits. First, they will increase the body's muscle temperature, making them supple and pliable for yoga. Participants' heart rate and respiratory rate will slowly increase. As a result, blood flow to the muscles and joints increases. The increased flow of oxygen and nutrients to muscles helps prepare them for more strenuous yoga activity.
The games in Dance of the Joints will increase flexibility and help make children more aware of the role each joint has in their bodies. Many of the games require children to stand up or balance on one leg. Children who find this difficult can hold on to a chair or lean against the wall for support.
The games are best accompanied by music with Eastern themes. The movements will flow into one another in time to the music, creating a dance.
Say to the children: Stand up and face forward. Bend your right leg. Reach down and hold your lower right leg with your hands. Now lift your right foot from the ground. Turn it in circles to the left ten times. Then, turn it in circles to the right ten times. Repeat these movements with the left foot.
Note: This game is best accompanied by music with Eastern themes.
Instruct the children as follows: Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Make clockwise circles with your hips. To do this, first move your hips forward; then to the right; next backward; finally, finish the circle by moving your hips to the left.
Now do ten counterclockwise circles with your hips. To do this, first move your hips backward; then to the left; next forward; finally, finish the circle by moving your hips to the right.
Demonstrate the exercise before asking the children to do it. This will ensure that the children are moving their hips in the correct direction. This game is best accompanied by music with Eastern themes.
Yoga postures are both fun and useful. Yoga can help children either to recharge their energy or to burn off excess energy.
Children should be able to steadily and comfortably hold each posture. Practicing the postures helps make their bodies strong and supple. Postures relax their bodies and make their muscles firm.
The sun salutation, explained on the next two pages, is a series of yoga postures performed in a sequence with inhalations and exhalations. The postures are arranged so that every part of the body is exercised. Each posture stretches or flexes the spine so that the entire body becomes supple and elastic. The movements flow into each other, stimulating energy and enhancing circulation.
This series is an effective warm-up, or each posture of the sun salutation can also stand alone as a separate exercise.
6 Sun Salutation
Read each instruction aloud:
Stand up straight with your feet together. Bring your palms together in front of your chest with your fingers pointing upward. Breathe in and stretch your arms above your head. Bend your head backward slightly and look upward. Breathing out, bend forward. Keep your legs straight, and touch the ground with your fingertips. Bring your face as close to your knees as you can. If you can't touch the ground with your knees straight, then bend them slightly. Breathing in, look straight in front. Step back with your right foot. Your toes should touch the ground and point forward. Breathing out, step back with your left foot. Push your heels as far as possible to the ground. Look at your navel. Breathing in, bend your arms and slowly sink to the floor. Touch the floor with your hands, chest, knees, and toes. Look downward. As you breathe in, stretch and stiffen your arms. Use them to lift the upper part of your body from the floor. Gently bend your spine backward in an arch. Bend your head back and look upward. Put your toes firmly on the ground. As you exhale, raise the middle of your body and push your bottom in the air. Keeping your hands and feet on the ground, look at your navel. Breathing in, bend your right leg forward. Keep your left leg stretched out behind you and look forward. Breathing out, step forward with your left leg. Straighten both legs. Touch your fingertips to the ground. Hold your face as closely as possible to your knees. As you breathe in, slowly straighten your spine and raise yourself to a standing position again, leading the movement with your arms straight out. Stretch your arms upward. Bend your head backward a little and look upward. As you breathe out, bring your hands together in front of your chest. Close your eyes. Continue breathing in and out softly and slowly open your eyes.
Note: This game can be accompanied by music with Eastern themes or can be done without music. The leader should talk the children through each movement as they do the sun salutation until they have a total body memory of the series of movements.
The next section describes a number of yoga postures that are named after animals-with good reason. Children have fun roaring like a lion, flying like a bird, or stretching themselves like a cat.
7 Downward-Facing Dog
Most children love dogs. The animals are friendly and playful. Dogs also know how to stretch to recharge their energy. Invite children to stretch like a dog.
Instructions: Have the children get down on their hands and knees. Tell them to spread their fingers and bend their toes against the ground. As they inhale, they should lift their bodies and push their bottoms in the air. Their feet should now be flat on the floor, and they should be looking at their navels. They should lengthen their spines as much as possible and let their heads hang low to the floor. Next, have them gently breathe in and out and pause for a moment. Then, have them return to the original position. Repeat the exercise two more times.
8 Cow's Head
Ask the children what they know about cows. What do cows eat? Have they ever watched a cow grazing contentedly? A cow moves its head in a certain way as it eats. Invite children to practice moving like a cow.
Instructions: Have the children sit on the floor. They should slide their right legs along the outside of their left legs. Next, have them sit down on their left heels. As they inhale, instruct them to raise both arms. Then, as they exhale, they should place their right hands on their right shoulders and put their left hands on their lower backs. Now, tell them to slide their right hands downward and their left hands upward. Then the children should try clasping their hands together. Once the hands are clasped (or moved as close together as possible), have them breathe in and out gently and then have them pause for a moment. Then have them return to the starting position. The children should repeat the exercise using the opposite legs and arms.
The eagle is one of the largest and most impressive birds in the world. Ask children to describe an eagle. Is it beautiful? Strong? Tell them to close their eyes and imagine an eagle standing on a high rock, watching over a valley. Now invite the children to practice moving like an eagle.
In the starting position, have the children stand with their feet together and their arms by their sides. Next, have the children bend their left legs at the knee. Ask them to elevate the lower part of their left legs and then wrap their left feet/ankles around their right legs, bending their right legs slightly. The backs of their left thighs will then be resting on the fronts of their right thighs. Then have the children extend their arms in front of them, parallel to the floor, and cross their right arms over their left arms. They should then bend their arms at the elbows in such a way so that the palms of their hands are facing and their fingers are pointing upward. Have them inhale deeply, making themselves as tall as they can. Now tell the children to breathe normally and pause for a moment. They should then return again to the starting position. Have the children repeat the exercise using the opposite arms and legs.
Turtles can pull themselves back into their shells. Ask: "Try and see if you can pull yourself into your shell and be totally alone and quiet."
Instructions: Guide the children as follows: Sit up straight. Stretch your legs in front of you in a V shape. Breathe in, raising your arms. Now breathe out, lowering your arms and head to the ground. Next, move your arms backward and under your thighs. Place them on the floor with your palms facing upward. Close your eyes and stay in this position. Pause for a minute. Then slowly move back into a sitting position.
The camel is a common form of transport in the desert. Ask children to imagine that they are riding a camel over warm desert sands. Now tell them they will be doing the camel pose.
Instructions: Tell the children: Kneel down, keeping your body up straight. Stretch out your arms at shoulder level. Lower your arms slowly and rest your hands on your ankles. As you inhale, bend your neck slowly and gently backward. Push your tummy forward gently. Breathe out, raising your head again. Repeat the exercise two more times and rest.
Tell children to think of birds flying in the air. Ask: "What can birds do that people can't do? Wouldn't it be wonderful to be as free as a bird and fly in the air?" Then, tell them they are going to do the bird posture.
Instructions: Guide the children as follows: Stand up straight with your feet together. Inhale, raising your arms sideways to shoulder height, with your palms facing downward. As you breathe out, bring your arms down. At the same time, bend your knees. Breathe in and stand up straight again. Repeat this exercise ten times.
Horses are noble animals that are frequently admired by children. Ask children to imagine a horse running and jumping. Now tell them that they can show how they can jump like a horse, too.
Instructions: Make sure the children have enough space. Tell them to be careful not to kick anyone. Guide them as follows: Bend over forward with hands flat on the floor. Bend your knees a little. Swing your right foot up and back. As it touches the ground, swing the left foot up. Repeat this ten times.
Note: This exercise may require supervision. If you are working with a large group, divide the participants into pairs and have one partner do the exercise while the other one watches and makes sure their partner is safe and is no danger of kicking someone else.
14 From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Every butterfly spends a lot of time being a roly-poly caterpillar. To turn into a butterfly, the caterpillar first spins a cocoon around itself. It transforms into a butterfly inside the cocoon. Then when it is ready, it emerges from the cocoon as a colorful butterfly.
Instructions: Tell the children: Now it is your turn to show how you can come out of a cocoon as a beautiful butterfly.
First, invite them to do the caterpillar shuffle.
Have the children bend forward and place their hands on the floor in front of them. They should jump forward with their feet and then move their hands forward and jump forward with their feet again. Have the children repeat the hopping several times.
It is now time for the caterpillar to change into a butterfly. Instruct the children as follows:
The caterpillar gets tired and has to lie down. Make yourself very small. Imagine you are sleeping in your cocoon. (Pause for a moment.) The caterpillar pupates and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. Break out of your cocoon. Now straighten your wings and fly around the room.
Frogs love to jump in the air, but they can also sit still for a very long time. Children can pretend to jump like frogs from one lily pad to the next on the pond.
Instructions: Tell the children to crouch down with their legs placed a bit apart. Next, have them place their hands flat on the floor in front of them. Explain to them that they should breathe in as they hop up and then breathe out again as they come down. Have them repeat the exercise several times.
Mice are often looking for small places in which to hide from cats and owls. If children have been doing an energetic exercise, it's nice to change the pace a bit. They can relax by going into their "mouse hole."
Instructions: Tell the children to kneel with their knees pressed together. Then have them lean forward until their foreheads are on the ground. At this point, have the children place their arms on the floor close to their bodies. Explain that now they're in their mouse holes.
Have the children stay still in their mouse hole for a few minutes. Then, tell them to slowly sit up again.
Excerpted from The Yoga Adventure for Children by Helen Purperhart Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
About the Author xiii
Planning the Yoga Class
The Role of the Leader
Key to the Icons Used in the Games
The Rules of Yoga 7
The Five Abstinences
The Five Precepts
The Peace Agreement
Exercises, Games, and Stories 13
Warm-Up Exercises-Dance of the Joints 14
Yoga Postures 20
Yoga Games 51
Breathing Exercises 58
Concentration and Meditation 63
Exercising the Senses 70
Chakra Exercises 76
Visualization Exercises 98
Wake-Up Exercises 107
Experiences with Crystals 120
The Games Arranged by Specific Categories 127
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a clever little book. It's simply written so that even a child can read and implement the instructions, and the drawings of poses are helpful. I also like organization of information. There are sections for breathing, yoga, visualization, etc. At the end of the book is a handy index showing which exercises and games require props and which don't. The only device that isn't as helpful and I found confusing was the way the exercises are identified by age group. The icons representing the four different groups look too similar, making it difficult to remember if it means the age group for ages 4-8, 4-12, 6-12, or 8-12. On the whole it's a useful guide for teachers, parents, kids, and childcare providers.
What a wonderful book...filled with yoga stretching excersizes for children but adults can do them too. I practiced some of the moves with my grandbaby and they are not as easy as they look for someone who does not stretch everyday. However my grandbaby was in rare form as she had no problems moving into the required positions for the different movements. She absolutely loves the various positions and I have no problems getting her to practice. Very good information and lots of fun!!!
My childrens' new favorite pass time. At least this has pulled them away from the TV for awhile! The book is simply written and the pictures are fun. My 8 year old likes to help my 4 year old do the exercises. This book has helped my promote health and exercise in my home.
My daughters are younger than the recommended age for this book, but we're having fun with it anyway! My toddler really likes to pretend she's an animal, so I show her how to do the various poses and we make the appropriate sounds, while my baby watches. We took a parent and baby yoga class last year, and this book is a great way to build on that foundation together. The format is really user friendly - quick and easy to look up poses or read for more information. It would be really nice if it was spiral bound, so that it stayed open while you were using it.
This book of yoga practices for children is well-organized and easy to use. Unfortunately my four-year-old daughter found it difficult to do any of the stretching poses that were outside of her age range, leaving us with few useful exercises. This seems like it would be an appropriate book for an educator looking to incorporate stretches and imaginative visualization practices into quiet times.
Looking for a curriculum to teach youngsters yoga? Here is an excellent guide for you to use for children aged 4 to 12. Exercises are targeted for specific age groups but most are appropriate for any child. Besides exercises, this book offers clever illustrations of animal named exercises, art activities, and stories that illustrate the principles of karma, non-violence and self-discipline.