by Amy Halloran-Steiner, Certified Yoga Calm Instructor
Recently, our family camped on the bank of Oregon’s Metolius River, on a second annual event there with two other families and a total of six children under age four. I did plenty of yoga with them, letting them choose their favorite poses from Yoga Calm for Children. We did plenty of Mountain, Tree and Downward Dog. We posed as eagles (adapted for their ability, of course), each waiting to pounce on a mouse.
The third morning, I noticed the kids restless and in need of distraction, munching graham crackers and wandering about. So I asked them, “Do you know the Graham Cracker Pose?” Usually knowledgeable about whatever the topic, the two oldest girls looked at me quizzically. So, I led: arms straight up to the sky, wrists bent at 90 degrees, fingers activated, tips pointing toward one another to make the upward edge of the cracker. The kids grinned and assumed the pose. Then we swept downward, doubling at the waist to break our graham cracker in half, because where else would be insert the – you guessed it – marshmallow?!
“Come on, Kids,” I said as we moved into a “Marshmallow Pose,” holding our heads high and circling our arms in front of us, as though holding a big ball in front of our belly.
“But what happens when the stick…?” offered one of the kids.
“Okay,” I replied. “Now we stand tall and thin, arms up, palms together, fingers pointing at the sky. Don’t bend and poke anyone near you, good roasting stick!”
“What about when the stick holds the marshmallow over the fire?”
Marshmallows, once big and activated, now relaxed and melted down to the ground. “What’s next?” I asked.
“Chocolate!” they screamed. So we made ourselves into smaller rectangles: again, arms up on either side of head, with wrists cocked and fingers pointing in to make the top edge. Then we bent, doubling at the waist again to lay our Chocolate selves down on the Marshmallow before returning to Graham Cracker. Voila! S’mores! And for us, also, the birth of “improv yoga” – a way to distract, entertain and stretch us all.
These children remind me that a child’s interest, when ignited, is the force that moves the world, or at least makes us giggle. And to giggle is a wonderful thing.