Circus yoga class for kids

Circus_Elephant_by_idnurse41

Image credit: Deviant Art

I recently did a yoga class with elementary school students where we went to the circus.
Throughout the class I tried to weave in the theme of focus and working together in a variety of different partner and individual activities. Here’s some of the circus ideas I had for the class:

Elephants: Warm up with elephant pose as you interlace hands together into a forward bend letting head and neck hang. You can lift their trunk up then down again to eat peanuts or take a shower and walk around with heavy feet.

Unicycle: Laying down on the mat, bicycle the feet. Or start bicycling from a seated position (trying with no hands) pedaling forwards and then backwards. For even more challenge, try pedaling all the way down, then back up to sitting. Did you have to focus especially when you changed what direction you were pedaling?

Lions jumping through a hoop: Take a few rounds of lions’ breath, then stretch up into downward dog. One at a time, everyone can jump through a hula hoop by placing hands on the other side of the hoop and jumping the feet forward from downward dog. How did different parts of your body have to work together to help you make it through the hoop?

Tightrope: Walk heel to heel along the edge of your mat or along a strap or string. At the end of the “rope”, take a balance pose. This could be dancer pose, airplane, or bringing a knee up and then extending the leg straight. Combine different balances together for a more difficult balancing routine. And of course there’s walking backwards to where you started. What did you have to do to help you keep your balance? What helped you keep your focus?

Juggling: Sit in a circle and quickly pass a small ball around the circle. Then start passing a second ball of a different size in the opposite direction and see how well the group can work together to “juggle” the balls going around. How can you still keep your focus when two different balls are going around?

Trapeze: With a partner, face one another and hold onto each other’s arms and take airplane pose. Come up and take a partner chair pose while facing your partner and holding arms. You can try this with other partner poses with one partner leaning forward and the other partner gently pulling their arms back to give a chest and shoulder opening or making partner table.  Notice how you had to work together to help your partner (and you) balance, stay safe, and enjoy the poses. Another way to be a trapeze artist is to use a wall and take upside-down “L” pose. Feel how being upside down challenges your balance and focus in a different way.

Magician’s hat: Wave a colored scarf over a top hat and turn it into a rabbit. Everyone can then take rabbit pose and/or practice bunny breath. You can also pull out multiple scarves from the hat for some creative movement using the scarves.

Circus music could go well with these activities. Be sure to ask your performers as they may have some great ideas for some acts to add to the circus.

I’d love to hear any further ideas you have for a circus-themed yoga class.