We can feel the summer sun on our skin again, and there's nothing quite like it. A yoga staple is the Sun Salutation, with which yogis have honored the sun for thousands of years. One pose in that sequence is High Lunge, appropriate for young elementary school-aged children and up. In the pose we can find grounding and strength, as well as space through the body as we reach up to the sun to honor it. When practicing High Lunge with children, we can teach them how the sun is responsible for all life on Earth, and that we can stand strong as we try to reach up to it. Let's look closer!
With energizing, heating poses such as this one, we must remember that adult bodies can regulate temperature more effectively than children's bodies. You can teach children cooling breaths (such as Bumblebee Breath, Dog's Breath, and breathing out for longer than we breathe in), and to be mindful of messages from their bodies (such as feeling overheated).
We must also let them know that they can rest or get a drink when their bodies are calling for it; young children in particular can be so eager to please that they put what they see as our expectations before their own physical needs. Additionally, as you guide children keep in mind that their energy, intention, and engagement is more important than "perfect" form.
Ages: appropriate for young elementary age and up
Mantra:"I can stand strong."
From Downward-Facing Dog or Table Pose, take your right foot by your right thumb (to the inside of the hand).
On a breath in, reach your arms and chest up. Have your heart shining forward and biceps (upper arms) right by your ears (palms facing each other like they could talk to each other).
Keep the top of the foot flat on the mat, or tuck them under to raise the back leg for more of a strengthening challenge.
Look straight forward. Feel steady and grounded through both of your legs. Feel more grounded as you breathe out, and feel taller through your upper body as you breathe in.
Notice how you feel. Can you feel even stronger and more powerful, as well as more spacious and free?
After three to five breaths, continue on to following poses in a certain sequence (such as Sun Salutations) or come back to Downward-Facing Dog, Table Pose to take the pose with the left leg forward.
Exercises with children and youth:
Make a Sun Circle, indoors or outdoors -- Make a circle with your group to honor the Sun that makes all life possible. If outdoors, connect it to lessons on honoring and protecting nature -- perhaps even teaching the idea of ahimsa, non-harming/kindness.
Cue free movement -- Lead students through shaking fingers, hands, arms, reaching up and then letting arms drop, and movements children can share with each other.
Play with gaze -- Have students look up, down, and side-to-side. Ask them what that feels like in the pose, versus when they look straight forward. This is a way to begin to teach focus and the yogic tool of drishti (gaze). Bring this across in a sense that none of the above options are strictly wrong or right, only choices that may more or less helpful for a safe, enjoyable practice.
Work on strengthening through flow -- With teens and tweens who may be interested in building physical strength, teach them movement flows such as bending and straightening the front knee as well as the back knee. Breathe in with straightening, breathe out with bending. That's a great way to teach them about connecting breath and movement.
Flow and Grow Kids Yoga has many offerings to help you guide children and youth in learning to care for themselves through yoga and mindfulness -- we're here to help!