Meowing, mooing, and humming your way through practice - Yoga with Emma!
Every Thursday, since COVID-19 forced us into social distancing and closed school doors, my six year old granddaughter Emma and I have been meeting on Zoom to practice yoga for half an hour. I love the moment when her sweet face appears on the screen. She usually has something important to share with me, like a new Polly Pocket or special stuffed animal that is going to practice with us today.
I’ll be honest. Kids Yoga has never been my specialty. I’ve attended seminars on energy structures like chakras and pranavayus, tuned in for classes on how to open the ilio-psoas complex, and am currently immersed in neuroscience and how meditation changes the brain. But teaching yoga to kids has always been something I shied away from and left to younger, more creative teachers!
My lack of experience became clear in our first session, when I instructed Emma to lift her pelvis into Bridge Pose. “Where’s my pelvis, Titi?”, asked Emma. Emma’s mom interjected from the sidelines, “It’s your booty. Lift up your little booty, like a bridge!” Booty was never a term I used in my teaching, but I could see that metaphor and fun were going to be essential elements along the kids yoga path. “What’s swimming under your bridge today?”, I asked Emma. She immediately replied, “Mermaids!” And we were back in business!
The practice we share here in this 20 minute video is a “best of” those weekly sessions. We’ve included two mudras (hand gestures). Brahmara Mudra is the gesture of the bee and includes a humming breath. This mudra supports the immune system and the humming calms the mind and relaxes the nervous system, which helps Emma drop into the present moment and land on her mat. Padma Mudra, the gesture of the lotus, opens the heart and throat. Our affirmations of breathing in love, and sharing it with ourselves, our family, our friends, and “the whole wide world” create a bigger container for our time together practicing yoga.
I’ve never been a big fan of Sun Salutations, but making them Hawaiian Sun Salutations, with hulas, sand to paint, and waves for surfing in our lunge poses, created a world of fun. Emma has a penchant for unicorns, so we modified Sunbird to be a Unicorn, with one leg the tail, and the opposite arm, our unicorn horn. Volcano breath fits our Hawaiian theme – pulling the fire up out of the earth, and then spewing lava to form a new island around us! And every pose is more fun when it meows, moos, or wags its tail!
We hope this practice makes you smile. I’m grateful to Emma for her patience and for reminding me that my inner child is still alive and well, when I let her come out to play!