Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2020 issue.
Wow, what a difficult spring 2020 has sprung upon us. We have had a lot of time to think in our homes and virtual worlds, and now, as we enter into the summer and fall seasons, I am asking myself these questions: How do we as parents/ teachers adapt in these new uncertain times and thrive where we live and learn about our beautiful environment?
I’m a mother to two middle school boys and am assisting their distance learning. One day, I was reminded in my son’s seventh grade virtual science class that Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species did not say that the strongest survive, but the most adaptable do. What adaptations have you made during this pandemic as a parent or teacher working with children? When my children tell me that they are bored, I say, “Well, boredom is an opportunity for creativity.”
Let’s get creative and step into our imaginations and learn about the natural habitat of Colorado through mindful movement.
Bringing Colorado’s state flower, tree and bird to life through movement increases our ability to learn and adapt to our natural environment in a playful and educational way. If you are assisting your children with distance learning, or if you are teaching and want to connect with your students in a fun and meaningful way, all of these creative yoga shapes can be practiced physically apart and virtually together!
STOP AND GAZE AT THE STATE FLOWER: The Columbine
How: Stand tall and connect your outer edg- es of your pinky fingers, touch each tip of your fingers to each other and connect the inner sides of your thumbs together, making the shape of a flower bud. Open and close your hands like a delicate flower and gaze at the many colors the state flower takes — blue, white, yellow and pinkish.
Why: Mudras/Hand postures help center the mind and increase concentration.
Learning Points: The blue flowers sym- bolize the beautiful sky, the white flowers reflect the snow and the yellow flowers cap- ture the image of Colorado’s gold mining history. Remember … just gaze at the state flower, because it has been illegal to pick them since 1925.
Reflection Question: What color Columbine flower are you?
BALANCE LIKE THE STATE TREE: The Blue Spruce
How: Stand tall with feet hip width apart, shoulders relaxed and the crown of your head reaching up towards the beautiful blue sky. Picture in your mind the Blue Spruce tree. Imagine your feet as the base, your arms as the silvery-blue needles and your head as the tippy top of the tree. Take the sole of your left foot and firmly place it above or below your right knee; lift your branches up towards the sun and hold steady. You are a stable and adaptable tree that can withstand all types of weather: the cold, the heat, the snow, the rain, the wind. Then, switch sides and balance on your other leg.
Why: There is a brain and body connection when we visualize being a tree and withstanding all types of weather; it increases our mental and physical stability.
Learning Points: Blue Spruce trees adapt and tolerate high winds, droughts and floods.
Reflection Question: What weather are you in while you stand as a Blue Spruce tree?
FLY LIKE THE STATE BIRD: The Lark Bunting
How: From the Blue Spruce tree, expand your arms out like wings, extend your tail feathers by stretching one leg back and make the sound of the Lark Bunting bird, by gently saying hweee, hweee, hweee.
Why: Flying like a bird increases balance and coordination, and it’s fun!
Learning Points: The Lark Bunting bird was chosen because of its singing and dancing nature.
Reflection Question:If you could fly like a Lark Bunting bird, where would you go?
Photos by Carly Finke.
Rachel has been teaching yoga since 2008 and has specialized in kids yoga. After becoming a mom and a yoga teacher, she found a desire to teach children’s yoga after bringing their storybooks to life through movement, breathing exercises and meditation. She is an award-winning author, mentor and leader in the kids yoga community. She hopes that one day mindful movement will be taught regularly in schools like math and science! In 2019, she joined Next Generation Yoga as a senior trainer and curriculum developer. Rachel lives with her husband and two sons in Edwards, Colorado.