With Valentine’s day approaching you may begin to feel that love is in the air. Being able to guide children to love each and every part of themselves is paramount to their well being for me! It my hope that when they can accept all the changes and transformations they experience with gentleness it can enable them to cultivate greater kindness for themselves and others around them.
I see children almost like butterflies who go through the delicate but powerful process of emerging and continue their ongoing process of growth and transformation. Most importantly for me I hold a deep desire and commitment to remind them of their unique beauty, true nature and just how amazing they really are!
In my first class this term with new students we travelled into the garden to see what we could discover which is always fun! I asked them to describe what colour they would be if they were a butterfly which is always delightful. Milla pictured here with her butterfly was a newbie to class and I was reminded of how special it is when you have new students who fall in love with the newness of the experience they are having and remind you of that special quality.
We finished our class with a fun creative activity where you provide one side of the butterfly and ask them to mirror and draw the design on the other side. This is a great way to relax, build concentration and also offers the challenge to be able to replicate the design as a mirror image. Of course you can also give another option of creating your butterfly from scratch too!
What you need:
Children are almost like butterflies of differing types - size, shape, colour and marks, some are heavier and others are lighter.... the thing they seem to have most in common is a willingness to transform moment to moment, demonstrate courage as they fly and giggle as they attempt it.........What an inspiration they truly are !!!! Karen.
Living in the northern hemisphere gets me a little more festive I have to say. It must be the combination of the night’s drawing in early afternoon and all the fantastic TV Christmas ads we get here! On the theme of stars I thought it would be nice to create your own personal yoga Xmas tree cards this year with your students or family. Why not add a fabulous star on top and decide who are the stars in your life and gift them to friends, grandparents or whoever you would like to. There is after all nothing quite like a handmade card filled with love ☺.
What you need:
Simply fold your piece of paper in half to make your card. See if you can remember what you look like when you are doing the tree pose or ask a friend or parent to do the pose to remind you. Sketch yourself doing the pose and think of what yoga clothes you might like to wear. Imagine holding a big star in your hands and putting your chosen ‘Rockstar’s’ name inside. Imagine how surprised your special star will be to receive a ‘personalized yoga xmas card’.
Have fun creating and making - remembering to fill it up with LOVE!
Listening is an art form which does not come naturally to most of us if we are honest and is something we have to continuously practice. This next activity has turned out to be one of my student’s favourite games here in Australia and apparently has also been gaining increasing popularity around the globe. It is adapted from a traditional Indian game called ‘Watch the Cat’ taken from ‘Yoga Education’ a book from Swami Satyananda of the Bihar School of Yoga. I have made this into a story telling game where the teacher creates the short story whilst the children are lying like sleeping cats relaxing on their sides.
How to facilitate
Explain to the students they are listening to the adventure of a cat who has a best friend who is a mouse. Each time they hear the word ‘Mouse’ they have to spring onto their hands and knees and ‘meow’ like a cat! Afterwards they immediately return to being sleeping cats again and have to carry on listening mindfully as the story continues.
Here is the story of cat and mouse to share with your children at home or students in class
‘My name is Zapper the cat and I’m a ginger tomboy, well actually I am a little bit brown as well if I am honest. Today is my best friend’s birthday party, he is turning 4 years old and I am super excited. By the way did I tell you he’s a cockroach no don’t be silly he’s a mouse! (everyone springs onto all fours and meows like a cat and you say – great listening guys now go back to sleep.
At the moment I am trying to think of what to buy him for his birthday this year. Well I was thinking of a back pack as he loves to go on day trips or even perhaps a sketchbook as he is such a fantastic artist and loves to draw. Umm it is tricky but then I spotted a really fun hat that is perfect for his day’s out…..umm which one to buy…maybe the parrot….or the giraffe was super fun with the long neck but then I decided on the mouse! (great listening everyone back to sleeping cats again)
The next thing I have to decide on is what snack to take to the party as it’s bring a plate. First I thought maybe some crackers, then I saw some chocolate ants, but what about fried grasshoppers, so many choices…then I found the perfect thing to take lumps of cheese in the shape of a mouse…(you guys have been such fantastic listeners today, great job everyone and now we are going to lay down for relaxation)
This game cultivates listening and teaches children how it feels to relax and then be vigilant as they spring to action. It can offer a great transition into relaxation and even better continue the relaxation further by adding colour to a picture of Zapper and Mouse by downloading your free colouring sheet here. Colouring in increases self-expression, colour recognition, focus, calm and builds fine motor skills.
The storytelling and free download of our accompanying colouring page of 'Zapper the Cat and Mouse' is here.
And more FREE DOWNLOADS of Creative Yogis kids yoga colouring pages are here.
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Community, collaboration and kindness are certainly some of the ingredients that can help to create balance and harmony anywhere in the world.
I chose to make ‘Acts of Kindness’ a theme for our class recently and we began in circle sharing how we could show kindness to others. One student shared how she likes to include others when she plays a game and another how she thinks taking time to listen is showing kindness to. As always treasured times of sharing where we learn together the precious language of our hearts.
Artistic collaboration is always deeply enriching and I decided we would form our own unique ‘Aussiedala’ with love and peace at the centre. Sitting with a group of children some of who were originally from other corners of the globe but now call here home we share a common connection.
I found a map of Australia in an art store recently which gave me the idea for this activity and to appreciate this amazing land. I asked the students to colour and decorate in a way that made them feel happy and reflected how we felt about our home. In the centre I drew a peace symbol and place the universal symbol of love the heart around it.
Why not think about creating love, joy, happiness, harmony and peace with a mandala of where your home is?
What you need and how to do it
This is a great opportunity to teach students another interpretation of ‘Union’ and share the true essence of Yoga.
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The start of the year is a wonderful time to reflect on last year and set clear intentions for the coming year. One intention I always finish my classes with is to wish all beings on our planet - Peace.
I teach my students that peace begins on the inside, and that when we find that feeling we can share it with everyone around us.
When you visit temples in different cultures you can often see colourful flags attached to different parts of the structure that are infused with prayers that are being gently blown out into the world by the wind – with the intention of creating a ripple of peace.
I love the decorative nature of these flags and thought it would be lovely to let children create their own unique version of these too with simple materials.
In the process of creation we are accessing that part of ourselves that inspires a sense of peace and calm at the same time – how perfect!
What you need and how to do it:
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When things get a little hectic in the holiday season – why not practice one of our favourite calming and balancing poses the ‘tree pose’.
All children love this pose and what is great is if you can get them to see if they can count how long they can hold it for – the longer they can balance the calmer they will be.
Make sure they focus on something that isn’t moving to help them balance.
To finish take a short ‘Santa relaxation ‘– making sure that he will have lots of energy to be able to deliver all the wonderful treats that he has for children everywhere.
After Santa relaxation a wonderful extension of this calm space is to imagine how they would look if they were a Christmas tree and how they might decorate themselves.
After drawing themselves in the tree pose they can begin to create themselves sparkling with lots of fabulous decorations.
Simple creative tools – Paper, pencils, colour pencils or textas and maybe some glitter pens or gold and silver.
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At Creative Yogis we feel that creative self expression is paramount to our inner health and well being and offers a chance to be with ourselves in a quiet internal space. An activity that we have just facilitated on our Teacher Training is something that has proven to be popular with both children and trainees again and again.
‘Henna Hands’ are part of the Indian culture and are an expression of beauty and self adornment for women. This can be done on the hands and the feet and is comprised of delicate intricate shapes and patterns drawn directly onto the skin. This can be adapted into a fun and easy activity for everyone. For my beautiful boy students I guide them to imagine that if they were a superhero and had a design on their hand, what might it look like?
What you will need
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As you may know by now we love to combine both creativity and Yoga. We are passionate about cultivating a place of quiet reflection to be with ourselves. To take a moment out from the busyness that can be life. We continually witness the impact of practicing deep relaxation in our students and how this transfers so peacefully into creative expression to become mindfulness in action.
It has always been a dream of ours to create a series of accessible educational resources that would be available as a tool for parents and educators, to share with either their children or students. This began with our Creative Yogis colouring book that was created 3 years ago.
We have spent many years offering Mandala colouring pages to our students which have always been met with great enthusiasm. 'Mandalas' are a repetitive design within a circle or forming a circle and have been used by many cultures as a tool for meditation, therapy and as a way to simply unwind and de-stress.
Two years ago we had an idea to combine the shape of Yoga poses in each design so you could relax and enjoy your creative expression and when you felt like a break jump up and do the pose!
It is so very exciting as we have finally brought that idea to fruition and would like to introduce our latest offering ‘Yogadalas’ - 13 unique designs that each centre around a particular pose and combine to create a Yoga sequence just for you. We hope you enjoy colouring them as much as we did creating them for you and are keen to see your response!
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We believe that Art itself is a form of mindfulness in action.
Whether it be drawing, painting, or even collage, engaging in art transports us to a place of quiet reflection, personal expression and allows us to be present in the moment to what is happening.
We had fun last term in our YogArt classes making our 3D Mandala mobiles. It is a simple fun activity that you may like to connect and share with your own child or offer to your students.
Paper plates / glue/ scissors / magazines or coloured paper / string / hole punch.
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Karen Wightman is the founder of Creative Yogis. She is an experienced, local and international children’s yoga instructor, yoga teacher trainer, and children’s art teacher.
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