Sunday, July 11, 2010

Under the Sea: a mini-adventure on the mat

Today I asked Lily to close her eyes and imagine the beach. With one eye closed, she ran away to the bathroom, laughing hysterically and brought back a towel.

Lily sat on the towel and asked if we could do some yoga--at our imaginary beach. Here's our mini-adventure. Try it-the whole practice takes about 20 minutes.

1. Get in a beach state of mind

Sit on a beach towel or yoga mat with your child. Face each other and close your eyes. Imagine you are at the beach. Ask-what do you hear? What do you smell? What do you see? Let the answers flow-no matter if they are beach appropriate or not. (Today Lily
heard a moose at the beach.)

Then do a little breath work with Ujjayi breath. Ujjayi is also called Ocean breath because of the audible noise produced when you breathe through nose and slightly constrict the back of your throat. For your kids, simply ask them to breath only through their noses and to make an audible noise. Pl
ay with it and be noisy--you are the ocean.

2. Travel in style
Now that you are in a beach state of mind, you've got to get to the ocean. Take some imaginative modes of transport.

Try a bumpy camel ride. Sit with your legs crossed and place your hands on your knees. Round your shoulders forward, like in Cat pose. Then open your chest and roll your shoulders backward li
ke in Cow pose. Keep moving from Cat to Cow in a seated position. Imagine yourself bopping on a bumpy camel ride.

After that, if you have not arrived at the beach (it typically takes us many poses to arrive), try riding a bike, taking a train or even running. Let your child make up the poses--there are no rules!

3. Go for a swim
After your camel drops you off at the beach, dive right in for a swim. Stand up tall and lift your arms above your head. Exhale and dive into a forward fold (making splashing noises all the way). Inhale and rise back up. Exhale and dive in a again. Repeat several times.

And then swim. Make big swimming arm movements while standing. Or lay belly-down on a mat and swim in place, kicking your legs and paddling your arms.

Stand up tall and finish up with some Surfing. Stand in Warrior 2 pose-legs spread wide, toes facing forward and front knee bent. Stretch your arms out long and pretend to surf.

4. Float away
After so much beach fun, it is time to relax and float away on a raft. Lay side by side on yoga mats. Close your eyes and pretend to be floating. Talk about how the raft feels, the water all around, the sun and clouds above, the sound of the ocean, the wind on your skin. Use a soft voice and encourage your child to talk about the sensation of floating.

When you are finished floating, wake up. Face each other and greet each with Namaste!

If you love it--try Family Yoga, every Tuesday 9:30-10:15 am at Veteran's Memorial Park in Gloucester Township. Classes are $6 per family. For info, email:

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