Explore the winter season’s animals, characteristics and interesting facts while practicing yoga in a fun, safe and educational way with this Wonderful Winter Lesson Plan!
- Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
- Tape or glue
Peace Breath – Close your eyes. Relax your face muscles. Breathe in. Breathe out and whisper the word “peace.” Do 3 to 6 times. As you say the word, feel the peace inside you. Repeat a silent affirmation such as “I am peaceful.” Slowly open your eyes. This pose Increases oxygenation and triggers the relaxation response in the body.
Close your eyes. Relax your face muscles. Let your skin drape over your bones like a soft blanket. Breathe in. Breathe out and whisper the word “peace.” Repeat. As you say the word, feel the peace inside you. Send peace to the animals, trees and plants. Send peace to your family and friends. Send peace to countries in the world that are at war. Send peace to all the people you love.
POSES AS PATHWAYS
Sun Salutation – During winter, the sun’s rays hit the Earth at a shallow angle, which minimizes the amount of energy that hits any given spot. Additionally, long nights and short days prevent the Earth from warming up. Let’s warm up by saluting the sun. Repeat one to ten times.
There are numerous styles of Sun Salutations. This is one example. Start in Namaste, raising your arms overhead and stretching upward. Fold forward into Ragdoll pose. Step back with one leg into a lunge. Step back with the other leg into Lizard pose. Slowly come down to the floor with your knees, chest and chin. Bring your hips down to the floor, and lift up into S is for Snake pose. Curl your toes under and stretch into Down Doggity Doggy Down pose. Repeat, beginning with the opposite leg and finishing in Namaste.
What do people do to prepare for the winter season? (Chop wood, buy winter clothes…)
Woodchopper – Time to chop wood to keep our house warm. We need 10 logs for the fire, so let’s count 10 chops. Note: For older kids, count by 5’s or 10’s.
Take a stance like a woodchopper with the feet hip-distance apart. Interlace the fingers and swing your ax over your head with an inhale. Exhale as you bring your ax down and split your log. Come back and forth several times. Remain down and then roll up slowly. Repeat.
Breathing Train – Over winter break, many people visit their relatives. Do any of you? Let’s take an imaginary trip on a train.
Stand or sit in a circle with your hands on the rib cage of the person in front of you. See if you can feel movement in the torso as they breathe. Now, walk or squat in a circle making choo-choo sounds. Vary the speed of your train. Notice the movement of the rib cage. Has your breathing changed?
Driving My Car – Many people take car trips to visit relatives. Play some driving music like Baby You Can Drive My Car by the Beatles. Think of a place you could drive to in your imaginary car that starts with the same letter as your first name, Marsha Memphis, or Don Denver.” (Note: For younger students, the teacher should create the locations for the kids.)
Sit on the floor. Extend your legs out in front of you. Keep your spine and your legs long. Reach up and pull a steering wheel out of the sky. Don’t forget to fasten your seat belt! Begin rocking from one hip to the other and scooting your body forward to drive your car.
Finger Dancing – Snow falls in many parts of the country in the winter. Imagine cool snowflakes softly falling on you…
Sit on your heels or cross-legged. Begin at the top of your head and gently stimulate your hair and skin by lightly dancing your fingers all the way down your body. Allow the self-touch to feel good, as it wakes you up, stimulates your skin and lymph system and makes you feel alive. Do this technique along with Salutations to Me. Each time you touch a part of your body say a silent affirmation or kind statement to that place: toes; skull, hair, face, ears, neck, throat, chest, breasts, belly, butt, legs, arms, feet, etc.
Eagle – Birds migrate south for warmer weather in the winter. Let’s practice a bird pose. Try to balance for 10 seconds on each side and gradually increase the time.
Begin in Mountain pose. Lift your right leg and wrap it over your left leg. If you can, hide your right foot and toes behind your left calf. Bring your bent arms up in front of you and place the right elbow on top of your left. Twist together your forearms bringing your palms together. You can also interlace your fingers. Bend your knees. Untangle yourself and change sides, bringing your left leg over your right leg and your left elbow on top of your right. Try to balance for 10 seconds on each side and gradually increase the time. Use a focus friend if you need guidance
Circle of Friendship Flowers – Geese fly in formation and work together as a team, we will now practice a pose that takes teamwork.
Kneel in a circle, holding hands. As you inhale, reach your arms up, lift your buttocks off your heels, and stretch back arching your back and neck. As you exhale, continue to hold hands and fold down into Child’s Pose. Repeat a few times imagining all the different flowers that you could be.
Polar Bear – The polar bear is a cold weather animal There are five nations with polar bears: U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.
Begin in Heel-Sitting pose. Open your knees wide apart, toes touching behind you. Bend forward at the hips and slide your chest along the floor. Place your chin on the floor and put your paws over your nose to keep yourself warm. Breathe in and out.
READING COMES ALIVE WITH YOGA
Read aloud Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle and teach the following poses while reading the book:
R is for Roar – Practice this pose round-robin style and have one child start, by rising and doing a unique roar, have the children repeat this, one by one until everyone has done the pose.
Begin in Heel-Sitting pose. Separate your knees a little bit and open your fingers to form lion claws. Place your claws on top of your thighs. Breathe in and puff up your proud lion chest with your breath. Open the back of your throat as you breathe out with a quiet, throaty “roar.” Stretch your tongue out toward your chin. Quietly roar three times. Then get louder and roar several more times.
Flamingo – Do both sides 2 or 3 times.
Begin in Mountain Pose. As you extend one leg straight back, bend forward at the hips. Spread your arms open like graceful wings. Establish your balance by clearing your mind and fixing your attention on your breath. If you feel like flying, gently flap your wings. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Cobra – A snake’s backbone is made up of many vertebrae attached to ribs. Humans have approximately 33 vertebrae and 24 ribs. Snakes have between 200-400 vertebrae with as many ribs attached! That is what makes them so flexible and helps them move along!
Lie on your belly. Gently squeeze your legs together to shape your body long and strong, like a snake’s. Place your hands under your shoulders and breathe in. Lift up your chest and head. Pull your shoulders down away from your ears. Breathe out and hiss the sound of a snake. Flick out your tongue. Lower your chest and rest on the ground. Repeat.
Elephant – Swing your trunk and walk. Dip your trunk into the river and throw it back over your head. Spray the other elephants with your trunk. Trumpet like an elephant.
Make a trunk with your arms and interlaced fingers. Swing your trunk. Dip your trunk into the river and throw it back over your head. Spray the other elephants with your trunk.
Lie down on your backs and get comfortable, close your eyes. Listen to the sweet sound of your own breath in and out. Feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breath. (pause) Imagine you just spent the day sledding or skiing with your family and now you are resting. You can hear the snow as it gently hits the walls and roof of your house. (pause) Once again feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly. Up and down. (pause) Now bring your attention back to the room, gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Slowly roll onto your right side and rest. Gently push yourself up to sitting.
Note: This visual can be done at the beginning of class, before the guided visualization or at the end of class. Have the kids cut out circles and glue or tape them onto a piece of paper. Feel free to use colored paper, markers, glitter or any craft material you have on hand to spice up your bears. For younger students, consider pre-cutting the circles yourself and having the kids decorate and put together.
Fountain of Oms
Everyone chants OM at their own pace and rhythm. Start together, but everyone’s duration can be different. Let the OMs keep coming at various intervals; some short, some long. Feel the Fountain of OMs wash through and around you. The sound and vibration is very powerful. Keep your eyes closed and keep chanting. Keep the OMs flowing and allow the sound to cease with its own natural conclusion.