In winter in my city, Toronto Canada, the sun sets at 4:40 pm.
It rises at about 7:40 am.
Basically, the sun is missing most of the morning and night, and its cold, but in yoga it is a good time to do Sun Salutations.
So last week in a daycare where I teach I decided to workshop the Sun Salutation in a unique way that kept my class of about fifteen kids, aged 5 – 9 years old, busy for 30 minutes.
In children’s yoga, Sun Salutations are great for kids. There are many variations of the Sun Salutation and I prefer a very simple twelve step sequence, so that it is not too complicated to remember. Some of the kids memorize it and can do it at home too.
The poses of the Sun Salutation can be taught slowly and once the kids get to know the poses and names, you can move at a faster pace. The speed and movement keep kids attention, helps them focus and channels their energy nicely.
But it is not easy to keep them focused for long without using one of my little trick to keep them interested.
Saluting the Sun In Kid Friendly Ways
As a teacher of kids yoga for many years, I’ve used all kinds of sun salutations tricks. I’ve used poems and sung songs. But the trick that kids go wild for is Sun Salutations . . . Army Style.
Kid’s love when their teacher plays a role, like in this case, a drill sergeant. It’s a highly effective trick of teaching that gets kids attention and keeps it.
So when I entered the room, I didn’t do my usual routine, I told the class in my best drill sergeant voice that their regular teacher couldn’t make it so she called me from the army to sub the class. The kids are confused but intrigued.
“Do you know how to salute the sun?” (I yell drill sergeant style)
“Yes” the kids answered.
“I can’t hear you!”
“YES!” the kids said with more energy.
Then Stand Up!
Attention! (they slapped their arms at their sides)
Since it was only their second time doing sun salutations, the first was a five minute introduction the week before, I continued this way:
- Demonstrate and Name the Pose then the Kids Do It: I demonstrate one pose at a time with a one word command (“sun,” “earth,” “plank,” etc.) Then the kids to do each pose, one pose at at time. I use short explanations like “reach up,” “reach down,” “straight line” etc.
- Speed it Up: After you go through the poses slowly, get the kids to do it again as you call out the one word reminders, Army style, of what is next.
- Add the Breath: once they have the hang of the movements you can add the “Inhale,” “Exhale” to the series.
- Repeat till the Sun Goes Down: or till the kids can’t do any more and ask for a rest.
How Many Sun Salutations for Kids?
In the 30 minute class we did 2 rounds of the Sun Salutations slowly (changing legs each time), then two faster, then we rested for about 2 minutes, then did 4 more repetitions. Although a few of the kids sat out for the last two repetitions. Grand Total: 8 reps of the sun salutation.
Finish with a Relaxation
Then we rested for about 6 minutes. I put on a song that is relaxing and can also be a meditation. The kids have the choice to either lie down and rest or sit up and meditate with me. It is usually about a 50/50 split of resting/meditating.
Classroom Management – Play a Character
I’m not sure why kids especially like the Drill Sergeant routine, but they do! Pretend to be a different characters and see how easily you get the attention of a large group of kids. Stick to short descriptions and keep the kids busy doing poses and you’ll keep them engaged.
If you teach sun salutations, or have tried Drill Sergeant, let me know how it goes for you.
Check Out This Sun Salutation Online Resource:
Yoga Man vs. The Stressor – Online Kids Yoga Teacher Training utilizes the Sun Salutations in 10 different games and activities. Click the image below for more details.