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Animal Poses to Create Calm
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.
- 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.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(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.
Guided Practice(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.
Independent working time(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.
- During the partner time, observe students working together.
- Collect the Animal Pose Figures worksheets to assess their understanding.
Review and closing(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!