Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yoga for Kids: Celebrating the Presidents

I am always trying to give my tween (ages 9-12) yoga class a fun and educational theme. Some weeks are easy--Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, Ground Hog's Day--but this week post-President's Day was a little rough. My students have come to expect something super fun and related to something going on. And since we all learn best through play (yes, even 30-something me!), I thought we could celebrate a bit of our country's political history with some fun presidential yoga.

The Obama's hosted a yoga class on the White House lawn during the annual Easter Egg Hunt two years in a row. So I thought we'd start where we are now with our 44th President Barack Obama.

43 Yoga Jumping Jacks
why? While Obama is our 44th President, he is typically only the 43rd individual to serve as president. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms.
how? Stand with legs far wide and arms parallel to the floor. Jump feet and hands together, clapping. Jump apart. Repeat 43 times. (I am sure my girls will be laughing, exhausted and will never forget the jump 43!)

Warrior I
why? In honor of our current President, who like all presidents is a leader. Warrior I is a pose that challenges your sense of presence. It is easy to lean forward (to the future) or fall back (to the past), but the pose is perfection when you center your torso with your hips.
how? the classic Warrior I

Cherry Tree
why? For our first President George Washington and the legend of the Cherry Tree--you know, "I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the Cherry Tree"
how? Take tree pose. Practice falling out of the pose and being okay with it--being honest about your balance, about how high you can place your foot.

Airplane Pose
why? Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd president, was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. Airplane pose teaches us to fly to independence, while balancing on one leg.
how? Airplane Pose is really Warrior 3. Practice on both sides

why? James Madison, our 4th President was the shortest at 5'4" He graduated from Princeton.
how? step feet hip distance part. keep a tall spine and squat down, with hands in prayer position.

Warrior 2
why? Andrew Jackson, our 7th president, was the first President to serve in two wars--the Revolutionary War and the war of 1812. He had a bullet lodged in his chest, near his heart. I always think of Jackson as a warrior, with a strong heart.
how? take Warrior 2 pose. roll your shoulders down and back, opening your heart center. Close your eyes, breath and connect with your heart.

Tadasana Stretch
why? Abe Lincoln is our most beloved and our tallest President, towering at 6'4" (without a hat). Celebrating his height is a beautiful way to celebrate our own and for young girls, to learn to stand tall, instead of slouching into themselves.
how? take a tall tadasana (mountain pose), inhale and slowly lengthen your arms up high. Swan dive into forward fold and reverse back up again. How does it feel when you are tall and open? How does it feel when you fold?

Bear Walk
why? In honor of our 26th president Teddy Roosevelt, for whom the Teddy Bear is named. Who doesn't love a teddy bear?
how? Take downward facing dog pose. Bear Walk on your hands and feet for 26th breaths. Take breaks in between.

why? Savasana is in honor of all the hardwork we all do--Presidents, citizens, all of us.
how? rest quietly, connect with your breath, think of nothing.

Are there any fun spins on Presidential Yoga that you can think of?

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