Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Optional: Yoga mats
Preparation for Activity
- Review the Description of Activity and the sun salutation poses. You might also visit The Yoga Site, for a detailed description, illustrations of all 12 poses, and an animation of a stick figure doing the entire cycle of poses. Even if you have little or no yoga experience, you may be able to teach and lead a sun salutation on your own. Or, arrange for someone in the congregation who is familiar with yoga and sun salutations to help you.
- If possible, communicate with families ahead of time, asking that the children wear loose clothing.
- Clear a large, clean floor space where all participants can stretch without bumping into anyone else.
- Optional: Spread the yoga mats, leaving plenty of room between them.
Description of Activity
Invite the children to arrange themselves in the open floor space so they can lie down and spread their arms and legs without touching anyone else (on yoga mats, if you have them).
Lead the children slowly through the 12 postures of a sun salutation. Then, repeat the series of postures, aiming to complete the cycle smoothly in a single graceful, flow. Encourage children to pay attention to their breathing as they do the postures; guide them to inhale when the body is stretching or extending, and exhale when the body folds or contracts.
The 12 Positions
- Mountain pose - Feet hip wide, hands in prayer, take several deep breaths
- Hands overhead - Inhale, arms overhead, arch back
- Head to knees - Exhale, bend forward
- Lunge - Inhale, right leg back
- Plank - Exhale, left leg back, inhale
- Stick - Exhale, lower to floor
- Upward dog - Inhale, lift torso with arms bending only the back
- Downward dog - Exhale, lift from hips, with bum in the air, head point to floor
- Lunge - Inhale, step right foot forward
- Head to knees - Exhale, left foot forward, head to knees
- Hands up - Inhale, slowly rise, extending arms up and back
- Mountain - Stand tall, hands in prayer
Follow up with questions, such as:
- What were you thinking about while you did this yoga exercise?
- Does your body feel the same as it did before we started? If not, how does it feel different?
- What happens when you stop thinking of things that bother you?
- This is very active way to meditate. Do you think it is calming?
- Why do you think it's called Salutation to the Sun? Would this be a good way to start your morning? Why?
Including All Participants
Yoga practice is about how the practitioner feels, not how the pose appears. Encourage participants with any level of ability/disability to try the poses to the degree they are capable and their bodies feel comfortable. Children who need to stay seated can stretch their bodies to approximate the poses and focus on inhaling/exhaling.