I love creating holiday inspired children’s yoga classes. Chinese New Year is an ideal holiday to help young yogis explore the world, celebrate their individual strengths and increase inter-cultural awareness and understanding.
First tell the legend of how the Chinese Zodiac came to be. (Listen to Cora Wen explain this in greater detail in this interview.) Next use a visual for each animal, this could be a photograph, stuffed animal or other object that is child friendly and fun. I created laminated cards with a graphic of each animal, its name in Chinese characters as well as English, a list of the characteristics of the animal and the years for the animal. I place these cards into a traditional red Chinese gift envelop which I picked up at the local Chinese market.
In turn, children come and choose a card. We then find out who in the class is a tiger, rooster, horse, etc. and discuss the characteristics of that animal and how we can emulate these positive attributes in our own lives. This is especially fun with classes of various ages including Family Yoga classes. Of course we get to practice yoga by becoming each animal through yoga inspired poses with lots of sounds and animal antics.
Rat – child’s pose (balasana) – charming, intelligent, inquisitive, generous, social
Ox – cow face pose (gomukhasana) – dependable,calm, patient, good listener, hardworking
Tiger – lion pose (simhasana)- powerful, passionate, colourful, vivacious, adventurous
Rabbit – rabbit pose (sasangasana) – graceful, lucky, strong willed, good friend, kind
Dragon – yin variation of runner’s lunge– whimsical, energetic, powerful, loyal, positive
Snake – cobra (bhujangasana) – wise, beautiful, skeptical, deep thinker, graceful
Horse – shiva & shakti kicks – cheerful, popular, loves outdoors, quick-witted
Goat/Sheep – table pose with bleating – trusting, artistic, gentle, generous, lucky
Monkey – wide squat with monkey antics – flexible, clever, sociable, confident, inventive
Rooster – low squat basic chicken strut (available to all) or for the energetic rooster pose(kukkutasana) – self-assured, organized, dedicated, meticulous, leader
Dog – downward facing dog pose (adho mukha savanasana) – honest, intelligent, loyal, friendly, fearless
Boar – table pose with a twist (looking for your curly tail) – honest, popular, seeks harmony, thoughtful, integrity
If you have time a simple craft project is paper Chinese lanterns.
To finish off relax in corpse pose with a lovely guided visualization based on lanterns which guide our way and light our path since Chinese New Year is in fact is the Chinese Spring Festival which culminates with the Lantern Festival.
For more ideas on celebrating holidays with yoga check out Yogainmyschool.com: