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Rhyme and Shine

Yoga Sun Salutation for Kids

Namaste: The light in me sees the light in you.

AllisonYogaThis is what I usually tell my students “namaste” means; that it’s a way of acknowledging each other, and thanking each other for showing up and participating; that each of us has a light inside, each of us has something beautiful to offer. I can honestly say that when I talk about this, just about every face in the room holds a look of genuine engagement. What a blessing it is to share the idea with kids that they have a light.

Yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of teaching yoga to three 1st grade groups at my son’s school. We used one of my favorite, go-to books: My Daddy Is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste. The children pictured in the book share what each of their parents does for work, and yoga poses are taught to accompany each occupation—an airplane for the pilot, a dog for the veterinarian, a pretzel for the baker, etc. In each short yoga class (ranging from 10 to 30 minutes), I wasn’t able to do all the poses, so each group got a slightly customized version of the lesson. I really enjoyed that internal process of gauging their interest and ability and tailoring the progression to each group, and I appreciated that each of my sessions was slightly different.

In the last of the three groups, there was one little girl sitting right in front. I didn’t really pay any special attention to her until we got to the pilot’s page. She timidly raised her hand and said, “My daddy’s a pilot!” I looked at her white-blond pig tails and her proud, toothy grin and couldn’t help but love the authentic connection I was witnessing. Yoga was no longer a thing outside. By relating it to her very own family, the pose itself became an intimate part of her. A little later, when we got to the baker’s page, she again raised her hand, a little more confidently this time. “And my mommy’s a baker!” she said as her smile grew. Wow. It’s moments like these when yoga poses go from being something we do with our bodies, to something we experience with our whole beings. You simply can’t just go through the motions when you make a connection like that.

At the end of the lesson, the kids thanked me kindly and began to put on their shoes. But before my little blond friend scurried away to retrieve her sneakers, she leaned fearlessly into my arms and have me a big, unexpected hug. What a gift. Namaste indeed.