There are dozens of potential uses for a singing bowl in a children’s yoga class, but the one that is the most potent is also the absolute simplest. The activity described below has a unique way of engaging children’s cooperation in the exact manner that you hope, while at the same time showing a profound respect for their independence.
At the beginning of every class, no matter how many routines you develop or guidelines you give your kids, there is a certain amount of noise, movement, conversation and other distraction that is a natural part of the transitions that children go through during their day. Sometimes there is complete chaos that threatens your ability to start your class in the peaceful, centered and happy state of mind that every yoga instructor hopes for.
This point of transition, where you set the tone for the entire experience that both you and your students are about to have, is a particularly challenging one to navigate. You must bring all of your students attention together at the same time, there is often noise so if the kids are going to hear you it might mean raising your voice, and all of the conversation that your students are having with each other are compelling to them and they are going to need some pretty good motivation to wrap them up. This can lead to frustration on the part of the teacher, and a gradual escalation of your voice until you are actually yelling at your students before you have even started your class.
There is a better way...
This simple activity is a great way to welcoming in the Spring with your children! Tree pose connects you deeply to the earth, sharpens your focus, strengthens your legs and builds balance in your whole body.
1. Start off in seed, or child’s pose, sitting on your knees, folding over them from the hips and resting your forehead on the mat or the earth. Take deep breaths and try to imagine what it would feel like to be a tiny seed - warm and cozy and waiting to grow.
2. From seed pose, slowly take a deep breath in and begin floating your arms up over your body. Then gently look up and strech your upper body to the sky to become a seedling. Close your eyes and feel the sun helping you to grow tall and the wind swaying you from side to side.
3. Take a few deep breaths as a seedling, and then come all the way up to stand. Stand tall with your feet slightly apart. Ground down through all four corners of your feet so you feel rooted to the floor.
4. Find a steady point to rest your gaze, out in front of you or on the floor a few feet ahead of you. (This is called drishti, or gaze point.) This will help you build concentration and find and maintain your balance.
5. Now put some extra weight into your left foot as you slowly lift your right foot off the floor and place it inside your left leg, bending your knee away from your body.
You can start by balancing with your right toes still touching the ground, and work towards bringing your foot as high as you can. Press your foot into your leg and let your leg push back to find the center line of your body. Bring your hands together in front of your heart, pushing evenly between both of your palms, or reach your arms up to the sky growing your “branches” towards the sun.
6. Take a few moments to return to your breath here, focusing on slow, even inhales and exhales, and keeping your gaze steady.
7. If you are with a group, try standing in tree pose in a circle, and slowly bring your hands out to the sides and join your palms to support one another, and become a forest of trees.
Talk with your students about what kind of tree they are, where their tree is living, or even allow the discussion to turn to why trees are so important in the world.