July 28, 2019
by Meena Srinivasan

Lesson plan

Animal Poses to Create Calm

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Grade Subject

Students will be able to design their own animal mindful movement pose and will explore how they can use nature and mindful movement to create calm.

(15 minutes)
  • Bring students outside, and have them join into a circle for mindful movement poses.
  • Tell them to sit on their mats or towels.
  • Ask them to calm their bodies and take a few deep breaths. Encourage them to feel their breaths going in and out.
  • Explain to the class that they will be practicing mindful movement together, and that this can create greater calm, focus, flexibility, strength, and balance of both their bodies and minds.
  • Tell them that today, they will just focus on poses.
  • Ask students to pay attention to what is similar in each pose that you demonstrate.
  • Have them watch you move into a few poses. (Review the Animal Pose Figures worksheet ahead of time if you are unfamiliar with the poses detailed below.)
  • Move into seated cow pose and say, "cow pose."
  • Move into seated cat pose and say, "cat pose."
  • Move into seated frog pose and say, "frog pose."
  • Ask students to join you now for seated cow, seated cat, and frog pose.
  • Guide them to feel their breath in each pose.
  • Afterwards, ask, "What was similar about each pose?" Build upon their answers, and explain that each pose had an animal name.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to the class that they will work in partners to create their own animal poses.
  • Before they create their own poses, have them reflect on why these poses are named after animals and discuss the connections between the poses and the animals.
  • Ask a few pairs to share their thoughts with the whole class, and facilitate a short conversation about this topic.
  • Tell the students that they can come up with a pose of their favorite animal.
  • Explain to them that afterwards, they will teach the class the poses they created.
  • Ask students to share some norms for the class to follow when designing poses together. Build upon their answers, and emphasize the following:
    • safe hands and feet, safe poses
    • check in with your teacher if you are unsure
    • go slow, and feel your breath as you move
  • With a student volunteer, model for students how to design a mindful movement pose. (It could be one or two poses in partners.)
  • Separate students into partners.
  • Tell them that they will have five minutes to work on their poses, and then you will ring the chime to return.
  • Dismiss partners to create mindful movement poses.
(15 minutes)
  • After five minutes, ring the chime for students to return to the circle.
  • Ask for partners to come in to the middle of the circle to demonstrate their mindful movement pose, teach the class the pose, and share the name of the pose.
  • Make sure to guide students to feel their breath as they move through each pose.
  • Ask the class to lie down on their backs after all partners have shared their poses.
  • Guide them to close their eyes or soften their gaze, and to feel their belly softly rise and fall as they breathe.
  • Ask students to relax their toes. Pause.
  • Then, ask them to relax their feet. Pause.
  • Have them feel and relax their legs. Pause.
  • Tell them to relax their backs. Pause.
  • Guide students to soften their hands (pause), relax their arms and shoulders (pause), and relax all the muscles in their face.
  • Ask them to notice their whole body as relaxed and heavy on their mat.
  • Explain that they will stay in stillness and quiet for a few minutes together, until you ring the chime.
(20 minutes)
  • Ring the chime after two minutes.
  • Invite the class to slowly start to wiggle their fingers and toes. Pause.
  • Have them gently come up to a seated position. Pause.
  • Ask them what they notice and how they feel.
  • Explain that they will continue their time together in silence as they complete the Animal Pose Figures worksheet.
  • Tell them that they may choose a quiet place in the perimeter of the circle, or somewhere else to sit on their own.
  • Pass out and review the worksheet.
  • Make a clay model of a bunny mindful movement figure as students watch.
  • Review the worksheet's instructions, and answer any clarifying questions students may have.
  • Give time for the class to independently complete their worksheets and clay mindful figure outside.

Enrichment: Ask advanced students to research other yoga poses that connect to animals or have animal names, such as crane, pigeon, dolphin, or fish.

Support: Work one-on-one or in small groups with some students when creating animal poses.

(5 minutes)
  • During the partner time, observe students working together.
  • Collect the Animal Pose Figures worksheets to assess their understanding.
(5 minutes)
  • Bring the class back together in a circle.
  • Ask them to place their animal pose figurines in the center of the circle.
  • Have students slowly walk around the circle to look at the figures and pay attention to what they notice.
  • Bring them back into a circle.
  • Ask, "What is mindful movement? What did you experience today?"
  • Remind them that practicing mindful movement in the form of animal poses a few times a week can be helpful to find calm and to also have fun. Tell them to take their clay figures home as a reminder of the usefulness of mindful movement!

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