Dragonflies vs. Butterflies
By Shakta Khalsa, published on YogaMint

Copyright Shakta Khalsa, 2015-16. Reprint or distribute with emailed permission only, contact info@childrensyoga.com, www.childrensyoga.com

id_boy_148Yoga is about balance in our bodies and our lives. The yin and yang of yoga is the softness, the receptivity coupled with the focus and the projective energy. In my role as a trainer for children’s yoga, I’ve observed hundreds of adult students teach children’s yoga. For the most part, their creations contain a plethora of sweet and relaxing images: butterfly yoga, swaying trees, stretching to greet the sun. In the back of my mind a question would arise: What about children who relate to stronger imagery? What would the boys think of this? Would they even do it?”

One day, my 7-year old godson said to me, “I don’t want to be a butterfly. I want to be a dragonfly!” With that he flew around the room, buzzing intensely. I got it. He was telling me something about balance. Another time, he was playing with his favorite toy and said, “Look,” as he held up a contorted action figure, “He’s doing Bow Pose!” Immediately my brain lit up and the two of us began the inspired planning of a set of Yoga Warrior cards, a yoga game in which Transformers demonstrate poses with names that any young warrior can relate to: Frozen Iron (front platform), Crouching Tiger (Squats), Skyscraper (Tree) and Starship (Extended Lotus). All poses can be done with Dragon Breath (strong breathing through mouth or nose).

In sharing yoga with children, it’s always good to let their bodies show you what they need—maybe it’s a bit of running around to settle the nervous system in order to focus. Perhaps they need to make booming and crashing noises. Doing Dragon Breath may help them to engage with the yoga. Contrast the soft, slow “peace and love” yoga with the focused warrior spirit (this works for both boys and girls). Incorporate Archer, Warrior, Down Dog to Up Dog, Front and Back Platform, Bow and Wheel pose. Life calls for both yin and yang. When you balance the yoga scales, you let the fun begin!