“Miss Sara, I can’t wait to do the “sleeping pose” again.”
Savasana often becomes the children’s favorite part of yoga class, which I think is incredible since it is the part of the class where they are not doing a thing.
The children begin class so eager, excited, and full of energy. After moving and working their bodies in such good and healthy ways, they are truly ready for rest and relaxation. I tell my students that their bodies deserve this rest and that taking this time helps them repair and build the muscles they just worked.
Please do not get the idea that I simply call out, “Everyone get into Savasana,” and that the kids readily roll onto their backs, shut their eyes, as they go into deep stillness. Instead, Savasana must be gradually built into the class flow.
Savasana comes at the end of your class after you have practiced breathing exercises, learned yoga poses, played yoga games, practiced balance, built community with one another, and are now ready for a bit of stillness, relaxation, and time for some mindfulness.
Yoga is about movement and poses and postures but it is also about being still and quiet and mindful in savasana. This is such an important skill to learn in our busy lives and especially a wonderful one to model with children
Here are a few ways to help promote stillness and mindfulness with kids.
Change the Mood
I like to begin to speak in quieter tones and if possible turn the lights down lower. It’s also easy to play calming music or nature sounds. This change in their surroundings signals to children that a change is coming. As you build this into the class flow, children begin to recognize the signs and signals leading to Savasana.
Be a Melting Ice Cube
As Savasna follows our Building Community component of class we are already seated in a circle. I like to challenge the kids to lie down as slowly as they can as if they are an ice cube melting into the ground. When they get down to the ground have them stretch out as long as they can with their toes pointed and their arms up overhead. See how long they can get by taking deep breaths.
Squeeze and Relax
While kids are lying down on their yoga mats preparing for savasana, I’ll sometimes have them squeeze a body part as hard as they can. Let’s say they squeeze their hands for a few seconds and then they relax it. Or also squeeze their shoulders up by their ears and then relax it. They’re actually able to physically feel the difference their body makes from holding it so tight and then relaxing.
Use Memorable Phrases
I challenge the children to stretch as “long as a pencil” or have them be “as still as a statue” or “as quiet as a mouse.” This gives the children a mental picture of how to pose and act.
I allow the children to lay however they feel comfortable. It could be on their backs, on their stomachs, curled up into a ball, but have a realistic expectation for how long the kids can lie still. 15 to 30 seconds is good for the preschool ages while older children can stay longer. The more they get used to Stillness and Savasana at the end of class, the longer they can stay still.
Bring Them Out Slowly
When it’s time to come out of this relaxation, I like to ask them to roll over on their side and use their arm as a pillow. Then they sit up and you can quietly lead them through a couple of big, deep, cleansing breaths while bringing arms up overhead, breathing in, and breathing out and placing your hands at heart center. We’ll do that a couple of times.
I like to give a few positive closing words that unite the class and set their path for the remainder of the day or the week. I also like to thank them for coming to yoga, taking care of their bodies, working together, and having fun.
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