Many foundational yoga poses come from things we see in nature..animals, plants, mountains, celestial bodies and the elements. In this way, our yoga is not just a union of our mind, body and breathing but also a way to connect to the world around us. Animal poses are a wonderful way to introduce to children to yoga as they learn about animals from early age. Pretending to be a dog, cat, lion, snake or other animal is relatable and fun and engages children’s imagination and playfulness.
Elephant pose is a great activity to do with your young child after they have been sitting for a long period say in a car seat, where they have not been able to stretch out fully.
Elephant pose warm-up:
Before you try elephant pose, stretch and relax your arms, shoulders and hands with ‘elephant ears’
- Find a space on the carpet or mat with your child. Make sure you have plenty of room around you both to bend, stretch and wave your arms.
- Go barefoot to prevent slips and to help your child feel the floor more accurately.
- Sit or stand up tall and place your hands on your waist. Then, keeping your hands on your waist, slowly roll your shoulders backwards and outwards, to stretch out your lower neck and upper chest muscles.
To increase the stretch, try doing slightly bigger shoulder rolls.
- Do about 3 or 4 shoulder rolls backwards and outwards then do one shoulder roll in the opposite direction i.e. forwards and inwards. Finish by taking your hands off your waist and giving your shoulders, arms and hands a gentle shake.
How to do Elephant Pose
- Stand up with your feet hip width apart. Encourage your child to copy you.
- Do a few stomps with your feet on the mat, like heavy elephants. This is a great balance activity. The slower your child stomps, the more they will be standing on one leg.
- Stretch one arm up above your head, with your upper arm close to your cheek. This is your ‘trunk’. Bend forward from the waist, keeping your arm in position, so it’s now hanging down in front of you, like an elephant’s trunk.
- Place your other arm behind your back, resting your hand on your lower back.
- Slowly start to sway your body. Then wave your outstretched arm (trunk) from side to side at the same time. Once again, encourage your child to copy.
- As your child waves their arm and hand across their body they will be crossing their mid-line.
- After a few sways from side to side, straighten up and reach your arm up high above your head to trumpet like an elephant.
- Repeat the pose using the other arm.
- Remember to keep slowly stomping
Benefits of Elephant pose:
- Develops balance skills -The slow ‘stomping’ action in elephant pose, allows children to practise balancing on one leg and then the other.
- Stretches and activates back, leg, shoulder and arm muscles.
- Stretches and activates back and tummy muscles – As you both move in elephant pose, your child and you will be strengthening your tummy muscles, as you bend forward. And you will be strengthening your back muscles as your straighten up.
- Improves co-ordination by crossing the mid-line of the body when waving your trunk.
Published on childreninspiredbyyoga.com/blog/2018