In "Windows and Mirrors," a Tapestry of Faith program
Invite children to set out and sit on the yoga mats. Say:
In many faiths and cultures, people use movement prayers, and many of these can be done anywhere, in a small space no larger than the yoga mat you are sitting on now.
Catholics who kneel and make the sign of the cross
Muslims who spread a prayer rug to face
and pray five times a day
Buddhist and others who take a special posture for meditation
Jews who "daven," rocking their bodies while reciting Hebrew prayers
Tell the group they will try a sun salutation, a yoga practice that comes from Hindu tradition. Say, in your own words:
Sun salutation involves a series of simple yoga poses. It is used by many people across a variety of faiths for prayer, meditation, and physical and spiritual exercise. Its purpose is to greet and recognize the new day brought by sunrise. Some people do it every day.
Following Leader Resource 3, demonstrate each individual pose on the yoga mat, using a chair, or both. Encourage any child who prefers to use a chair to perform modified poses. The chair back should be placed against a wall, with the yoga mat on the floor extending out from the chair into the room. Stand in front of the chair seat to use the chair as a brace for the forward bend, the lunge (place a foot on the chair seat, hands on chair back), the "dog" pose (hands bracing the chair seat with torso bent and forehead touching the chair seat), plank (hands bracing the chair seat with arms extended, feet several feet away from the chair and body flat as a plank), and "reverse push up" (plank pose with elbows bent and flat torso closer to the chair seat). Move slowly through each of the poses, holding each pose for three breaths. Repeat on each side.
If not using the chair, use the yoga mat or floor to move gently through each pose, holding each pose for three breaths. Repeat on each side.
Invite children to sit on their yoga mats. Discuss:
What felt comfortable?
What felt challenging?
What is attractive about using the sun salutation as a prayer practice? Might you find this a meaningful way to greet the new day?
What kinds of thoughts went through your head?
Is it more or less likely you can focus on gratitude, regret or hope when your body is engaged in the yoga movements? Might that be different if you did these poses every day and your body knew them well?
Children who are non-sighted, and others who need help, may be guided into poses by an adult. Before offering to help, ask the child if they would like you to guide their body into the right position. Tell them to let you know if your touch or their body position feels uncomfortable.
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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.
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