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We are nearing the end of National Mental Health Awareness Week.
Here in Scotland, we are still in ‘lock down’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are shut, we have been told to stay at home, and not see anyone outside our immediate family.
That is HARD for me to deal with, as an adult. I imagine you are finding it hard to. If it is hard for us, imagine how it must feel for our children. Ugh.
It’s also been the first week back for my kids yoga block (I’ve taken it online) – I’ve got some children continuing on, I’ve got some new ones joining the block. I’m using this class as an easy way in to my version of yoga – which is all about moving your body in a way that feels good for you.
So, we are talking about feelings. Emotional literacy is key to helping your child deal with difficult feelings. If they can name them, they can talk about how they feel. This helps with both their mental health, and their day to day behaviour. If they can talk about how they feel, they are less likely to MELT DOWN when big unnameable feelings well up.
Enter my secret weapon for the class – a picture book called ‘The Colour Monster’, by Anna Llenas*. This book is a great introduction to talking about feelings – giving them colours. It can prompt a discussion about how these colours, or feelings make you feel in your body. The artwork is charming, and my own four year old LOVES reading it with me!
I’ll include my basic class plan for the book below –
Feelings Yoga Class – The Colour Monster (Online class edition)
Say hello & introduce icebreaker – How has your week been? (use Fist to Five (clenched fist being zero, all fingers up being five) – great for kids that don’t want to speak at start of class) & What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Vocalisation – imagine holding your favourite ice cream, breath in and as you breathe out, say the word YUUUUUUUUMMMMM – make it last as long as you can! Do it three times!
WARM UP –
Sun salutations. Go through simple sun salutations with the class – introducing sequence easily for beginners, and giving regular attendees a warm up they can feel good about knowing – instilling confidence.
INTRODUCE CLASS CONCEPT –
Talk about feelings – Read ‘The Colour Monster’ by Anna Llinas. At the end, introduce the idea of expressing feelings with our bodies as well as colours.
Go through the feelings. Offer and demonstrate suggestions on some yoga poses they could try for the different feelings. Get them to try the suggestions, and also use their imagination by thinking about the emotions, and how it made them want to act. Explain it can be a pose they know, or one they make up – there is no wrong pose, their body knows the right one for them.
Happiness – Star Pose (Utthita Tadasana) – or dancing around – personally, I feel happiness includes MOVEMENT!
Sadness – child’s pose (Balasana)
Anger – goddess pose (Utkata Konasana)
Fear – cat pose (Marjariasana)
Calm -tree pose (Vriksasana) / or Easy Pose (Sukhasana) using anjali mudra (prayer hands)
Reread the story, getting the children to act out the poses.
In person, I would use different coloured pom poms or scarfs & get the children to sort them into the feelings. Online, this wasn’t logistically possible – so I introduced a yoga scavenger hunt – I choose two of the colours, and asked the children to find an object that was each colour. If time had allowed, I could have gone through all the colours – but choosing just two allowed me to set a challenge for the week – asking them to create a mindful picture with all the feelings colours.
Get the children to show their finds to everyone
SETTLE FOR RELAXATION –
(For the relaxation, I had planned on reading one a guided imagery exercise from the Relax Kids book ‘The Wishing Star’* I often use – but I had forgotten to bring it into the room I was recording in – so instead, I told my own one – based on a similar concept – finding a room they can go to to feel safe, and that the room can change colours, depending on how they felt – so that whenever they had big feelings, they knew they always had a special place in their mind they could go to to sit and breathe with the feelings. )
After the relaxation, let children share what came up for them.
CLASS END –
Speak about importance of discussing feelings.
As always – end class with reminder to think kind thoughts, speak kind words, and do kind things. From anjali mudra, push hands together and whoosh the kindness out into world.
If you are a kids yoga teacher – please feel free to use the plan, and adapt it to your needs – let me know any additions you make, or how it goes for you!
If you are a parent reading this, why not try some embodied poses with your child at home?
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