Easter Yoga

On Easter Sunday, a bunny will deliver chocolate eggs to many households across the world… Have you ever wondered how this seemingly bizarre tradition came to be?
Well, it turns out Easter actually began as a pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere, long before the advent of Christianity.
Since prehistoric times, people have celebrated the equinoxes and the solstices as sacred times. The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is exactly identical, so you can tell that you're emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance. People in the past mapped their whole life according to the patterns of nature.
In most countries in Europe, the name for Easter is derived from the Jewish festival of “Pesach” or Passover, which we have just celebrated at our home too… We do try to celebrate as many traditions as possible! Traditions are so important; they keep the family together.
So in Greek the feast is called Pascha, in Italian Pasqua, in Danish it is Paaske, and in French it is Paques.
But in English-speaking countries, and in Germany, Easter takes its name from a pagan goddess named Eostre from Anglo-Saxon England. Eostre was a goddess of spring or renewal and that's why her feast is attached to the vernal equinox. In Germany, the festival is called Ostern, and the goddess is called Ostara.
Many of the pagan customs associated with the celebration of spring eventually became absorbed within Christianity as symbols of the resurrection of Jesus.
Eggs, as a symbol of new life, became a common people's explanation of the resurrection; after the chill of the winter months, nature was coming to life again.
Rabbits and hares are also associated with fertility and were symbols linked to the goddess Eostre.
Another connection to Easter’s pre-Christian origins comes from the Sumerian legend of Damuzi (Tammuz) and his wife Inanna (Ishtar), an epic myth called “The Descent of Inanna” found inscribed on cuneiform clay tablets dating back to 2100 BC. When Tammuz dies, Ishtar is grief-stricken and follows him to the underworld. In the underworld, she enters through seven gates, and her worldly attire is removed. "Naked and bowed low" she is judged, killed, and then hung on display. In her absence, the earth loses its fertility, crops cease to grow and animals stop reproducing. Unless something is done, all life on earth will end.
After Inanna has been missing for three days her assistant goes to other gods for help. Finally one of them, Enki, creates two creatures who carry the plant of life and water of life down to the Underworld, sprinkling them on Inanna and Damuzi, resurrecting them, and giving them the power to return to the earth as the light of the sun for six months. After the six months are up, Tammuz returns to the underworld of the dead, remaining there for another six months, and Ishtar pursues him, prompting the water god to rescue them both. Thus were the cycles of winter death and spring life.

Holidays, traditions, cultures, wisdom and even God or Gods or Goddesses do not belong to one religion any more… Everything and all of us is so much more interconnected and interrelated than we can even imagine. Our differences are trifle.

 

We live in the age of supermarkets where we can get whatever we want, whenever we want; it’s the same with religions and spirituality. 

I believe that it is a positive advancement… Read on!


I think it’s a good thing that today we do not have to accept blindly what was handed to us from our forefathers, but that we can pick and choose, from an amazing array of traditions, those things that speak most clearly to our hearts and apply most practically to our lives.


In the supermarket, when we buy ready-made food, if we look at the little letters at the back of the package, we will see that it contains some ingredients that are not good for us; artificial colours, preservatives, allergens etc.


 In the same way, there is no one ready-made religion that is perfect for us or perfect in general.


Like all things in the world, religions were not made perfect, and when you put the individual into the equation you can see the incompatibility even more.


I believe that for a good cook, it is better to choose good ingredients her/himself according to his or her knowledge, ability, and taste, and then create their own feast.


Each religion contains an array of philosophies and techniques; some of them may be outdated (like expired food packages in the supermarket) and others might not be beneficial for us at a certain period or situation and can even cause harm (indigestion).


There is even a better option than buying a variety of ingredients in the supermarket; you can grow your own food in your backyard!


The human mind is very fertile, so I have no doubt that with careful care, or even by letting it grow wild, it can produce the most marvelous ideas. All we need is to spend some time in our garden (meditation), observe the magic happen and pick up the fruit when it is ripe!


No one knows a person more than they know themselves, and if you are a religious or a spiritual guide of some sort… Or a Yoga Teacher... Your job should only be to help people clear their mind so that they can perceive themselves more clearly.  


Show them that they have free choice and that there are literally limitless options, paths, and tools for them to realize their deepest desires and needs (happiness, love, freedom etc). 


The beauty of a good teacher is that they do not impose; they allow you to be as you are. 


This what we do in Rainbow Yoga when we learn together with all the children and families out there.


And in this spirit, even though our Easter class is as clean as possible from religious elements and mostly only contains traditions that are now secular, it may not fit in places that are not predominantly Christian.  Instead, you can use elements from this class to create a class with the theme of Spring.


I made this class plan here to easily fit the Coronavirus era with no touching and easily suitable for teaching online.


Have fun with it!


Bring: Paper cut into small pieces (Cut about 10 pieces from an A4 sheet), Texters.



Easter Yoga Poses Hunt & Sun Dance

Give each child 5 pieces of paper to write or draw their favourite 5 poses. Now ask all the kids to sit with their eyes closed and focus on their breath for just a minute or two while you go around the room and hide all of their beautiful yoga poses drawings.


Then ask them to open their eyes and give them all a few minutes to go around the room and find as many yoga poses as they can.


Have each child show the yoga poses they have found and let the whole group do each pose together as it is being revealed.


Then gather all of the poses and put them in an order to create you new, never done before, Easter Sun Dance!


Use creative transition to move between the poses even when they don’t exactly flow, move with the music and repeat as many times as the kids have patience for!


For Coronavirus online version… Mums or dads can hide the pieces of paper, each of your students in their turn will show the poses they gathered while everyone will do the poses as they are revealed, and then you make up the Easter Sun Dance for everyone to mirror you using all of the poses presented. Easy, interactive and FUN!


10-15 Minutes


Spring Is In The Air

Inhale Sunshine, Exhale Rainbows - Raise hands straight up over your head and Exhale a Rainbow: Slowly draw your hands down on both sides of your body to create a rainbow shape.


sprouting seeds

Sprouting Seeds - Let’s all start as a seed in Child Pose… Feel the sunshine warming your back, the rain pattering on your head… Once you feel cozy as a seed, let yourself sprout into a Toe Balancing Pose. From here slowly grow into a Tree Pose. And finally, also let yourself bloom on your tree in Flower Pose. 

 


Bees - Sitting cross-legged, hands on your shoulders, make big circles with your elbows and roll your shoulders backwards and then forwards. You can also stand up, and while you keep rolling your shoulders back and moving your wings, fly around the room and even sting other people or things!

 

 

butterflies pose

Butterflies - Sitting, bring the soles of your feet together, bending your knees out to the side. Keep your back long and hold onto your feet. Flap your wings up and down. Move slowly in the beginning and then faster and faster.  

 

butterflies drinking sap

Butterfly Drinking nectar – Breathing exercise - Try bringing your chest towards your feet, keeping your back straight, reach down to drink some nectar. Make slurping, drinking sounds, sucking the nectar from the flower. Alternatively, bring your chest towards your feet, keeping your back straight, smell flowers by taking a deep, deep breath in. Can you bring your butterfly nose to your butterfly toes? 


Caterpillars - Start from Dog Pose. Slowly walk your feet toward your hands (keeping your hands and legs straight) and then walk your hands forward away from your feet... now you’re walking like a caterpillar!

   

You can also morph from Caterpillar to a Cocoon, to a Butterfly and even to an Opened-Winged Butterfly!


Birds… There are many of them… Here are a few:


stork / flamingoStork / Flamingo - Stand tall. Focus your gaze on one point in front of you, or on the floor. Shifting your weight to one foot, slowly lift your other knee, until your lifted leg is at a 90-degree angle, foot off of the floor. This pose really helps to improve balance!

 

 

falcon

Falcon - Begin standing. When ready, lean forward with your body and let one of your legs come straight up parallel to the floor (or lower, if that’s more comfortable). Keep your straight arms about a foot away from your body like the wings of a falcon.


pigeon pose

Pigeon - The easiest way to come into this pose is to start from the Dog Pose. Bring one bent knee forward to the floor between your hands, keeping the back leg completely straight. You can rest your hands on your front leg, or push them into the floor on either side of your front knee, lifting your upper body and opening your chest.


eagle pose

Eagle - From standing, bend your knees a bit and cross one leg over the other. If you can, double-cross that foot behind the other ankle. Wrap your arms in the same way, shaping them into an eagle’s neck and head, placing them in front of your face. 


eagles in a nest

Eagle’s Nest - This pose is the same as the eagle but seated, it is much easier for younger children to do because they do not need to focus on balancing.



10 Minutes

 

Easter Eggs

Obviously we don’t want to eat the eggs, because who comes out of eggs?


Egg… Chick… Chicken:

egg rolling

Egg - Lie on your back, bend your knees and hug them tight to your chest. Breath and relax!


Now roll back and forth (or for young kids roll from side to side) to hatch from the egg…


chickens pose

Chicken - Squat down, keeping both feet on the floor, and bring your hands onto your shoulders; these are the chicken’s wings! “Cluck cluck” like a chicken and even walk around like a chicken!



5 Minutes


And we are not going to let anyone else get the eggs or chicks…


Chicken & Eagle

One of my favourite games in the last couple of years!


One child is chosen to be the Eagle, and another the Hen. All the other children are Chicks, and line up behind the Hen, holding onto the clothes of the child in front of them.


The Eagle and the Hen face each other, and the Eagle now tries to catch the Chicks. The Hen protects her Chicks, holding out her hands and moving from side to side (with her Chicks swaying in a line behind her).


Any Chicks which are caught move over to stand behind the Eagle and the line of Chicks dwindles down.


5 Minutes


But birds and Chicken are not the only ones laying eggs… 


Who else hatches from eggs?

 

cobra snake

Snakes

Lie on your belly, hands on the floor under your shoulders. Squeeze your legs together tightly to make one strong cobra tail. Push your hands into the floor and lift your head and chest up (keep your elbows a bit bent). Hiss like a snake, stick your tongue out, flicking it up and down to smell what’s around.

 

 

plank crocodile

Crocs

Come into Plank Pose. Keep your arms straight, hands under your shoulders. Toes stay tucked in and your whole body is completely straight, from your heels to the top of your head.


Walk forward and back by jumping, keeping your legs together and your hands together. It’s not easy!


Also, try to jump up with your hands and clap! And even jump up with your hands and clap twice. This one is really tricky!

  

lizards

Lizards

You can begin by lying down on your belly, hands under your shoulders, and slowly push your chest back towards your feet. Keeping your knees in place on the floor, so that your bottom comes up. Another way to come into the pose is to start from the Cat Pose. Stick your bottom up, lower your chest down by bending your elbows close to your ribs and rest your chest on the floor between your hands.

 

 

turtle pose

Turtle

From sitting, bring one heel against the opposite hip. Take your other leg and place it over the bottom leg, bringing the heel against its opposite hip. Bend forward to rest on your legs. Place one hand behind your back, bringing it from the top, and the other hand behind your back bringing it from the bottom, and hold hands. This will give you a nice stretch to the shoulders and chest! Switch your legs and hands after a few breaths. 

 

 

fish pose

Fish

Sit with your legs straight in front of you and bring your hands, palms down, under your bottom with your fingers pointing toward your legs. Lean backward so that you can rest your elbows and forearms on the mat. Lift your chest up and bring your head all the way back until the top of your head touches the mat. Try to keep most of the weight on your elbows and arms, with less weight on your head. Breathe slowly and deeply and make a fish face or move your mouth like a fish!

 

 

spider pose

Spider

Two kids are placed perpendicular (90% degrees to each other) one on top of the other in the crab pose – obviously it created a spider with 8 legs. The kid on the bottom can sag down their hips a bit to accommodate the kid that is on top. They can walk around the room and interact with other spiders.

sharks pose

There are even some Sharks that lay eggs!

Lie on your belly and interlock your fingers behind your back. Lift up your head and chest as high as you can and bring your interlocked hands up high; this is your shark fin! Remember to show us your shark teeth!!!


Dragon

Stand in a High Lunge Pose, bring your hands to your mouth and use them to imitate spitting fire like a dragon!


Dinosaur

Come into Warrior one and make a T-Rex hand with your arms!


Platypus

They are the only mammal that lays eggs!


For a Platypus Pose, I usually have a partner pose where the base is in Cat Pose (with flat back) and the flyer is lying on top with their belly on the base’s back, stretching their arms forward to form the platypus beak.


10-15 Minutes


Egg Rolls Into Poses

With your knees tucked into your chest, roll forward and back and every so often, when the teacher calls a pose, roll into that pose!


Try Mountain, Tree, Frog, Butterfly… and roll forward straight into that pose. Fun!


You can let the kids call out poses too to make it more interactive and even more fun!


5 Minutes


Balancing Chocolate Eggs

Hold one or two vegan chocolate Easter egg in both your open palms, without holding, and move through different yoga poses without dropping the eggs. If you don’t have Easter eggs, you can use any other object.


Start lying down on the floor, keep them balanced while you try to roll from back to tummy and back. Loads of Ebbs are used here!


Try to go from lying to standing and back down.


Now flow through a series of yoga poses such as Warriors, Lunges, Camel, Child Pose etc all while still balancing the Easter eggs in your open palms. 


You can do it to music as in Follow My Body with all of the students mirroring your poses (no verbal instructions needed), or let the children move through poses as they decide.


5-10 Minutes


Oh! We almost forgot… Bunnies also come out of eggs?!


Bunnies

bunny pose

Bunny Rabbit Pose

Begin in Mouse Pose and slowly roll forward, bringing half your weight to the top of your head. Reach your arms back to hold your feet or your ankles. This is a good substitute for the headstand.


  

Bunny Breath

First, wiggle your nose like a rabbit! Now take three small inhalations through the nose followed by one long exhalation.


Bunny Hops

Now come into Chair Pose, standing up with your knees bent, make bunny hands with your arms and hop around the room like the Easter Bunny!

 

basket for easter eggs

Basket for vegan choc eggs for the bunnies to carry

Lie on your belly, bend your knees and bring your heels toward your bottom. Bring your arms back and hold your ankles to make your basket handles. With a deep inhalation, pulling your legs with your hands, and your hands with your legs, bringing your feet far from your bottom and lifting your head, chest, and thighs off the floor.


5 Minutes


Spring Yoga Show

The Spring Show is on! And you are in it!


Have each child in their turn show off their best yoga pose!


This is fantastic to keep the interaction going even in an online class!!!


5 Minutes


Vegan Chocolate Factory

chocolate easter eggs

Sit on your bottom with your legs apart; this is your cooking pot. 


Put all the different ingredients needed to make chocolate in the pot, You can always find ingredients in the sky, in your sleeve, under your armpit or in other places.


Hold onto your big toe (or if it’s not comfortable, hold your whole foot), with one hand and start mixing (your leg could be a big spoon or a mixer), making big circles with your held foot, opening up the hip. Do the same with the other spoon/mixer as well.

Blow on the chocolate mixture to cool it down; then it’s a little breathing exercise too.


And now stand up and pour the chocolate into the mould - Stand with your legs apart, one hand on your waist (this is the handle) and make your other hand into a spout. Lean to the side in order to pour the mixture into the mould. Practice bending to the other side as well.


Now lie down in the Savasana mould or relaxation pose… You are the chocolate… Be still and let the chocolate set.



5 Minutes


Melting Chocolate Guided Imagery

Lie down on your back and think about chocolate, good vegan chocolate… You are the chocolate… Breath deeply and smell and taste in your imagination the fantastic chocolate that you are.


Now as you are lying here being chocolate, the sun is slowly rising for Easter morning. Feel the sun first shining just on your toes and feel your chocolate toes slowly melting in the sun. It feels good! Your toes have never been so relaxed…


Guide the children slowly through this same process travelling with your attention all the way up the legs, the arms, the body and the head until your whole body is in one yummy chocolate puddle.


You can ‘wake up’ from the relaxation with bunny rabbits coming and licking the chocolate, it’s tickling, you are wiggling… Until you come back to your own human shape, stretch, yawn and sit up.


Happy Easter!


5 Minutes

 

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