Are you looking for a way to incorporate yoga at home or in the classroom with your Tots or Tykes?
With the winter holidays upon, the options for creative movement and play are endless.
But today, I wanted to combine one of my favorite holiday movies with some yoga play. Plus I love any excuse to drink hot coco.
If you haven’t seen Polar Express yet, or if you just want a little memory refresh, or to snuggle up with your big, little, or fur babies, you can rent it on Amazon here.
There is also a really beautiful book of the story and some adorable jammies to help you get in the mood. Plus this especially sweet ornament if you still need another stocking-stuffer.
*To get started: Take some nice deep breaths and exhale like a train (think chh, chh, chh). You can practice making your chh’s short and quick or long, or make a pattern of short and long (chh, chh, chhhhhhhh).
*We also took some time to create a seated train, getting our arms and shoulder in on the action, circling through like the wheels of a train.
If you live somewhere chilly, you can also use your breath to fog up the windows or a mirror.
One of my very favorite things to do with a group of Tykes is to make a Down Dog Tunnel.
Have everyone line up their Downward Facing Dog poses and let each little take a turn crawling through on their hands and knees or on their bellies.
To get into Downward Dog, start on hands and knees like a table top, then press into your hands and your feet and lift your tail into the air.
This one is always a crowd favorite and most will love to play over and over again, each taking multiple turns crawling through.
This is another great spot to throw in those train breaths. Let each student make up their own pattern as they go through, or have the group work together to create train sounds when they are the tunnel.
Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Then press into your feet and lift your belly to the sky.
Practice raising and lowering the bridge or lifting one leg at a time while your hips are high.
This is a fun partner pose. Have your Tykes stand facing each other about an arm’s length away from each other (or have you can kneel if you are playing with your little) and reach your arms way to the sky.
Without moving your feet, bring your arms together until your hands touch.
See if you can press equally into each other’s hands so no one moves.
If you want a little more fun, see if you can lean into each other and practice balancing together.
Stand tall with your feet apart and pretend you are sitting back into your seat on the train.
Practice stretching and waving to get your hot coco.
*Hot Coco Breaths
Take a moment to sip your imaginary hot coco.
Take a deep breath in through your nose and notice how delicious it smells.
Notice how warm it is and blow on it slowly to cool it off.
Take small, sipping breaths and notice how it warms you up.
From a kneeling position, reach one leg out long to the side.
Place your opposite hand on the mat in line with your knees and reach up and over your ear.
Practice opening and closing your gate resting your hand on your leg and reaching over your head with the opposite arm.
Practice with a partner and see if you can move back and forth between open and closed.
If you have a group, the rest of the students could form a train and travel trough the open gates.
Take a tradition Tree Pose, by standing on one foot and opening your lifted knee out wide, then ask your students to make their hands into a star on top of the tree and blink their eyes like lights.
If you are feeling festive, ask everyone to join in for a round of “Oh Christmas Tree” .
*Jack – in – the – Box
Squat down low and practice jumping as high as you can.
Balance on your toes and let your body circle and bounce like you are on a spring.
Take a nice deep forward fold, then cross your arms and let your upper body sway like the inside of a bell.
Bonus points and you can making ringing and dinging sounds while you are upside down.
Find sukasana or easy seated pose (criss – cross applesauce).
Bring your hands to your heart and close your eyes.
Take 5 deep breaths and think about something that makes you feel calm and happy.
We finished out our practice with some delicious (and real) hot coco and marshmallows. I let the Tykes count and sort their own marshmallows and asked them to drop them in one at a time and notice how they moved and bounced. Then we took a minute to tune into our senses, smelling the chocolate, feeling the warm cups, listening to our own breathing and giggling, seeing the swirls and bubbles in our coco, and finally tasting how yummy it was.
We had such a good time with our Polar Express Yoga! Let me know how it goes when you try it with your Tykes and Tots!
Also, what other kinds of holiday cheer are you infusing into your yoga practice this month?
I love allowing my practice to tune in with the world around me and I love hearing your ideas and insights!
I can’t forget the outtakes of this photo shoot!
We had such silly fun! But let me tell you, trying to get 5 Tykes under the age of 6 to cooperate for pictures was a little like herding cats. Fortunately, I love cats!