Halloween can be a wonderful time for children to explore their imaginations. Or, as many teachers and parents can attest, it can be a nightmare of sugar-fueled overexcitement and big emotions. There’s nothing wrong with “big energy”and excited children, of course. They just need to learn when it’s appropriate, where to “channel it” and how to turn it on and off. So in our Yoga Calm classes at The Children’s Program and at school, I prepare students for the big day with several activities that help them practice shifting gears and calming themselves.
While waiting for all of our kids to show up for today’s Yoga Calm class at The Children’s Program, we played Mat Tag, where children practice shifting from active to calm states. Its a great way to run off a little energy before class while learning important skills. Then we talked about how around Halloween our bodies get very excited, and how we need to learn to move from excited to calm to prevent ourselves from getting in trouble.
We started out with activities that were regulating and calming, such as Hoberman breathing, Pulse Count and Volcano Breath. Then we practiced Mat 20 to a drum beat, with students holding each pose for four beats. We have found this to be very regulating, and if the child does a good job of leading, then they have the honor of beating the drum for the next student leader. Compliments for the student leaders give children an opportunity to reflect on what they did well.
We then moved to Activate/Relax Walk, where students shift from a relaxed walk to a yoga pose. This was a good preparation activity for practicing how to get under control for the upcoming Archetype Game. We shifted from activated to relaxed, and the kids had to do it several times without disruption before moving on to the game.
Then we gave them each a glow stick, gave firm direction about how to use the sticks and the consequences of using them incorrectly. We turned off the lights and let our excited, wild sides out, all while staying under control. The kids were great, and they loved the game.
Jim then closed with a relaxation that included a pouch that held different rocks that could change us into different characters. We used these parts of ourselves to solve problems in the story.
We wanted to share these ideas with you as a way to help you through the wild Halloween energy! We are sending you all heart thoughts!!
Lynea and Jim Gillen
More information about these activities can be found in the award-winning book Yoga Calm for Children: Educating Heart, Mind and Body.