We would all love to climb back into the years where naps are a necessity to any day, naked adventures are as natural as the clothed ones, the only password worth learning being, ‘Open sesame’, and every environment, person and thing an opportunity to poke, watch, squash, hear and experience with an exaggerated amount of wonder, magic, innocence and curiosity.
Basically, to climb back into the body and see the world through the eyes of a child. Re-experience the DISCOVERY of life and its wonderful contents.
To LEARN..To NOTICE… To RECOGNISE…To SEE.
For any person experiencing a mediocre morning, my suggestion would be to walk yourself up to the creche at Londolozi to make the 9am morning circle with the little ones.
Here, yoga, movement, dance, singing and story-time kick-starts the little ones’ day, ensuring it begins on the right foot, no matter what side of the bed one tends to roll out of. After all happiness is self-made, right?
A few mornings a week the day begins with gentle toddler yoga, with the children climbing into a world of their wild imaginations through tickling the clouds, welcoming the sun with sun salutations, trees waving through the wind, stretching the spine in down-dogs, balancing one-legged storks, sunflowers opening and closing, and (attempting to cultivate) a few shut-eye still moments along the way with their friends and teachers.
The pure joy of working with children’s yoga is witnessing the playful natures reveal themselves innocently through discovering their own bodies and space bubbles, as well as those around them.
“ Let’s fetch our mats and find our space. Settle on your mat, in your space”.
Lesson #1: Taking pride and responsibility for space.
The little arms grope the small rectangle mats and waddle to find ‘their spot’ where we begin from.
“ Tickle your toes, tickle tickle tickle”…”Good-morning toes” – (“Good morning toes” echoes back in young voices). “Pat your knees, pat, pat, pat”… “Good-morning knees”- (Good-morning knees echoes back in young voices), “ Rub your tummy, rub, rub, rub”… “ Good-morning tummy” (“Good-morning tummy” echoes in union)..Working through each part, in our call and response- saying ‘good-morning’ to each part of the body, appreciating the fact that it is there.
We work through lefts and rights, feeling into the stretches, building awareness of feeling from the inside-out.
Free-flowing giggles filter through the air from the mischievous young bear bending the wrong way to everyone else – nose peering between their legs with shining bright eyes.
Lesson #2: Stay silly, don’t take life too seriously (“No-one gets out alive anyway”, as the saying goes).
Of course, prior to conducting a class, a mental or visual lesson plan has been prepared with attention given to specific pose outcomes, themes, ideas or incentives for the children to finish up knowing before that time together. Well, that’s what we try for at least.
Learning to balance on some or all toes as tall mountains, forests, elephants, waterfalls and warrior’s , the children jump at the chance to assume the various roles we climb into. And while it should begin one way and end another, sometimes the queues come directly from the ‘little teachers’ in front of us, showing us exactly when they have had enough, have mastered the lesson or are ready to wind down.
Lesson #3: Take heed of your own boundaries
Only you really know where those are. No ego blocking the ability to listen and respect them. “Ow” means ease off, not push harder.
“ This is TOO HARD…Too fast” pants a little James underneath his arm while in Down-dog #4 for the day. Time to move to the floor and start slowing down. The rapid response to a softer, lowered voice speaks again for itself… “Droopp the kneees… Lowerrr the tummy slowwwly all the way dowwwn , just like a snake slithering on the ground…Excellent. Slooowly, gently, sssssssoftlyyy… what noise does a snake make..?”
The eyes sparkle up at the chance to make the sound of the creature mentioned.. Bringing the little distracted concentration spans back into the space to full presence.
Lesson #4: Simplicity through sound brings one back to full focus, full presence (All ages). Use the voice, words to impact those around you positively.
And while the ‘lesson plan’ included a couple more ground poses, it was clear to see from the energy levels the full focus is in the little ring of toddler mats, it might be a good time to soften down and move into the breathing.
“Onto your backs.. Settle the shoulders, relax your fingers, clooosee your eyeees.. No peeping. Oi, we will wait for everyone to clooose their eyeeees. Very good. Tap your nose gently.. take a nice full breath into your tummy like a cloud that is full of rain… and breathe out pfffffffffff let the air goo… Another one allll the way inn…and let it all out… Oi, Close the eyes. One more time eeeeverybody breeeath all the way inn fill up…Very gooood…and let it allll the way outtt pffffff”
Walking between the mats, allowing the presence to be felt amongst the little ones, the curious peeping eyes shine up at me just checking they aren’t missing out on anything. I settle my hands gently on their foreheads while moving between them. This triggers some giggles that ripple through the colourful classroom, warming the space with presence.
The corners of my mouth tilt up as I battle to keep the smile off my face. So what if we didn’t manage a fish pose today?..Or a Cow? We became strong tall mountains, we learnt to balance on each side, sweated, giggled, breathed, laughed….
The little ones provided the next big lesson that presents itself each morning we are lucky enough to spend together…
Lesson #5: Sometimes ALLOWING rather than trying to constantly CONTROL situations encourages things to unravel naturally and organically.
In building trust, comfort and safety in a new space, creative exploration becomes play, and through play comes the lessons.
We finish up crossed-legged, little hands connected in prayer, little bodies mustering up the last bit of focus they can give me for the morning to say ‘thank you’ to one another. After third (or fourth or fifth time lucky) of success from everyone, a round of well-deserved ‘high-fives’ closes the class.
“Let’s roll up our mats and take them back to their home on the shelf….. Until our next discovery mission”