Early Childhood Yoga Experiences: Jellyfish-Mountain Play
July 28, 2010
This post is part of an on-going series sharing time-tested and true Early Childhood Yoga Experiences.
Respected educational theorists, including Lev Vygotsky, Maria Montessori and Rudolph Steiner, teach the importance of play in a child’s development. The same holds true in yoga education for early childhood. Imagine asking a group of 3-4 year olds to stand in Mountain Pose for 10 breaths. Without a well balanced structure of play to facilitate the task, the children will likely not comply. Play gives children motivation to engage in new experiences. The Jellyfish-Mountain Play draws on young children’s boundless energy to playfully guide them to a place of sweet stillness.
This game works similar to “freeze dance.” Explain to students that while to music is on, we are jellyfish playing in the ocean. Use billowy music that evokes fluid, free movements. (I like DeBussy: Arabesque #1 for Solo Harp). Allow the children to become their own style of jellyfish: slow, fast, tiny, enormous. Give them 30-45 seconds to explore their jellyfish moves. Then, pause the music and ask students to find their strong Mountain Poses. Demonstrate how still and quiet a mountain can be. For this game, ask children to hold Mountain Pose with the arms overhead and palms together in a “peak.”
Let them hold the pose for 20-30 seconds before starting the music again. While they are in Mountain Pose, ask students to look inside for strength and stability. This is a wonderful teaching moment to introduce the concept of stability, as you will have their attention. You can travel around the room helping students to find more extension and grounding where necessary.
Repeat the Jellyfish-Mountain Play 5-7 times.
“Play is the work of the child.” ~Montessori