Celebrate International Yoga Day — or any day, really — with kid-friendly, animal-inspired yoga poses.
Each year on June 21, the LP Fisher Public Library in Woodstock, New Brunswick, celebrates International Yoga Day, first made official by the United Nations on Dec. 11, 2014. But you don’t have to wait until June 2018 to celebrate — you can copy what we do by having a Family Yoga Party any time of year!
Planning a yoga day
The first step in planning our yoga day was getting together at a local park with a bunch of other yoga teachers and their kids and deciding what we wanted to do this year. (I am also a yoga teacher, but you certainly don't have to be to hold a successful event!)
We thought of doing a yoga-style triathlon geared towards families (one-mile run/walk, 30-minute family-style yoga class, 10-minute group meditation), but we couldn’t get the logistics sorted. We were also worried about the weather, which has been unseasonably rainy this year.
While we had to table the yoga-style triathlon for another time, local yoga and art teacher Brigitte Marsden and I decided to collaborate on teaching, and another yoga teacher, Tamara, came with her family to support us. We advertised it on Facebook and the web and in our print calendar. All mats and props were provided, since I already teach a weekly yoga class here at the library.
If you aren't a yoga teacher or don't feel comfortable leading a class of mixed-ages, you can contact your local yoga studios or gyms to see if you can find an instructor to volunteer. Facebook groups are also good places to look. Make sure to have the parents sign a liability waiver (and photo release, if you are taking photos. If you don’t have any mats, you can ask people to bring their own.
Animal poses, sun salutations and exploring feelings
Brigitte led the families through a series of poses focused on jungle animals, which was fun, adorable and challenging. Then I took over and we did the rainbow power song, which you can find a video of below. Each pose of a sun salutation gets given a color of the rainbow.
Then I read the sweet and bright book "The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings" by Anna Llenas (available in Spanish and French, too!), and we talked about how it is possible the feel many different feelings at once. We discovered that we are not our feelings, but that we can learn about them and see what they have to teach us about ourselves.
We practiced naming the feelings and assigning them a color and acting them out. Then we each colored in a (gender-neutral) outline of a human with whichever colors we were feeling right then.
We had about 15 people show up on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, which wasn’t a huge turnout, but was still a great sized group (and manageable).
If you need some ideas of poses to do in your own Family Yoga Party, check out the videos or books on my website or read Kate Scherrer’s super helpful "Stories, Songs, and Stretches!: Creating Playful Storytimes with Yoga and Movement" (ALA Editions, 2017; ISBN 978-0-8389-1544-8).
And most importantly, have fun!