Journey to the North Pole - A Christmas Yoga Class
Christmas… What is it all about?
Getting together, family, generosity, love… What does it mean to you?
I’m originally from Israel, and even though this is where it supposedly all started, we do not have Christmas trees there or carols playing for weeks before or crazy shopping time.
So I think that it is always good to put things in perspective, separate the chaff from the grain, the external stuff from the essential important things, and ask ourselves why we do what we do… WHY is probably the most important question in life…
So why are you celebrating Christmas?
Anyway, it is a really fun time of the year, so let’s keep it all upbeat this time. No need to get all deep and meaningful today. Let’s just enjoy the moment together!
Props: Pillows, Christmas Lights on Batteries, Other Christmas Tree Decorations, Scavenger Hunt Print Outs.
We all sit in a circle. It is Christmas night and the phone is ringing…
Answer with your Yoga Phone - Sit cross-legged on the mat & raise one foot to your ear
The Elf on the other side is saying ”I have some news, Santa is unwell and we need your help on a very important task… Will you help us pick up all of the gifts from the north pole and distribute them all over the world?
What do you think? Are you up for it?
Tell the Elf to hold on the line for a second while you call your Mum on the other line - Pick up your other foot and dial your home number… What does your Mum say? Does she agree?
Pick up the first phone again and tell the Elf the good news.
Pick up the call to your Mum one more time and tell her how excited you are and that you will see her the next morning!
But let’s see first what happened to Santa:
Santa is Sick - In a circle each person adding to the previous one, "Santa is ill and he has sore toes" and touch your toes. Everyone repeats together all the previous sentences and movements and adds your own. "Santa has sore toes, a sore nose, a sore bum and...".
This is a great warm-up, fantastic imagination practice, a memory game and very much loved by children! Wow! The fantastic things Santa will suffer at our imagination!
Let’s hurry up now and go and help poor Santa so everyone receives their Christmas Gifts!
Travel to the North Pole
The reindeers are picking us up with their sled…
Santa’s Sled - In pairs, one child lies on their tummy and bent their knees to bring their feet up, they are the sled. Keep the knees at 90 degrees. The other partner places their bum on the sled’s feet and sits keeping their own feet on the ground. The sled now brings their arms back and the rider holds on to those rains and leans back slowly to give the sled a nice backbend.
There are also other kinds of sleds… Try in groups of 4, one person in Down Dog, one person stands between the Down Dog hands and leans backwards over the Down Dog raising their arms up and back, 2 people in Warrior Poses hold hand with the back-bander stretching away from them creating the full Sled Pose.
Reindeer - Come into Warrior I Pose. Bring your thumbs to the side of your head, spreading the rest of your fingers out. What beautiful antlers you have!
But the reindeer got hungry and scattered all around and we need to find them now…
Reindeer Scavenger Hunt
Instructions: Cut each clue and hide each clue at the locations mentioned below, in order. Hand the first clue to the kids and bounce around the room in Reindeer Pose as you wander from clue to clue.
- Dasher slipped out without a care, just to get some fresh, arctic air.
- Vixen was out past curfew and got sent to the place where naughty kids go too!
- Rudolf - Rudolf was tired and sore were his feet, so he went for some help where two
- Dancer was practising his twirl on the sleigh, when the wind picked up and blew him away.
- Prancer was up late and bored, so he sought a place where a million things are stored.
- Cupid crept out during the storm and sought a place where he could stay warm.
- Comet was dirty and completely drained, so he went to the place where it recently rained.
- Donner was returning from his friends, The Bears, but got sidetracked by the thing at
which everyone stares.
- Blitzen was blazing down the reindeer trail but hadn't been seen since he got the mail.
- Just outside the door 2.Corner of the room 3. Front door 4. Ceiling fan or air conditioner… or window 5. computer/internet or books 6. Fireplace or under a yoga blanket 7. Sink or shower 8. Television or the teacher 9. Mailbox or teacher’s desk or drawer
Now that all of the reindeer are found, let’s Ride the Sleds - Wheelbarrow… In pairs, one child begins with knees and hands on the ground, parent or friend lifts up the child’s legs from the ankles and holding them firmly starts to move forward like a wheelbarrow or sleigh.
Arrive at the (very cold) North Pole
Use your imagination and rug up by putting on ‘beanies’, ‘scarves’, ‘gloves’, ‘boots’ and ‘jackets’.
Meet the elves... Elves! Can you walk around as small as Santa’s elves? Using a wall for balance with one hand, stand on your knees, feet as high up to your bottom as possible, and using your other hand to hold one of your feet up, walk in a line for a metre or two along the wall. If this is too easy, let go of the wall!
You may wish to have blankets on the mats for extra cushioning under your knees.
We are going to pack Christmas gifts for the whole night, so we need some energy and the elves are offering us their favourite snack…
Candy Canes! Like Eagle Pose, 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 a twisted Candy Cane, placing them in front of your face. Switch sides whenever you are ready.
Now let’s meet Santa… He is sitting on his throne resting and supervising the whole operation!
Simple: From standing, bend your knees and sit in Chair Pose. Pretend to be Santa and give a wave or instruct everyone how to wrap the Christmas gift or what gift goes where!
Advance: In pairs, the base lies down with knees bent close to the chest. Flyer starts standing with heels close to the base’s shoulders facing away from the base, then sits on the base’s feet. Base places their hands under the flyer’s feet, thumbs to the inside and fingers to the outside, then they straighten their legs and their arms until they are at a right angle - You are sitting on Santa’s Throne!
Have a 3rd person here be the Mini-Teacher to spot and make sure that everyone is safe; the Mini-Teacher stands on the side of the flyer with arms on either side, without touching the flyer, ready to hug the flyer and lower them slowly down in case they lose balance.
With younger kids, parents or the teacher can base everyone; have everyone form a line and lift them up one after the other for a few seconds each.
We will need to do Santa’s job, so let’s practice being Santa and moving like Santa…
Santa Limbo - Have participants put a "Santa belly" under their shirts using a pillow. Place a broomstick or a rope or a scarf (I use this long snake I have) at a starting height. Then line up, and one by one try to limbo underneath (with the Santa belly) until everyone has tried. Slightly lower the stick and have those who made it through go again. Continually lower the stick until one winner remains!
Now, let’s help Santa get all of the gifts ready… What presents do you imagine all the elves are making in Santa’s Workshop?
- Bike – Candle pose, legs up pedalling.
- Doll – Stand up and flop down from the waist to dangle your head and arms like a rag doll.
- Train – All sit in a line and go for a very quick train ride.
- Video Game - Sit as low as you can on your imaginary chair (Chair Pose) and raise your arms up to your imaginary keyboard.
- Guitar - From sitting, cradle one of your legs in your arms. This is your yoga guitar... rock on!
- More Christmas presents as per the children's imagination and the time you have...
Now Put it all in the big Santa Beg - 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 big Santa beg 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.
Now put the Beg On Your Back - In pairs, stand back to back, one child is the bag (like a backpack) and they extend their arms back and puts them over the other partner’s shoulder. Arms have to be over the shoulders and not falling to the sides. The backpack grabs their own feet forming the straps of the bag. Sometimes the standing partner needs to help the bag person to grab onto their feet.
If doing it with a teacher or parents instead, the adult kneels on the floor with the child standing back to back and continues from there.
Down the Chimney - Place the whole group in Down Dogs one beside the other, last person goes under the tunnel and then joins in Down Dog again at the end of the line, and the next person goes through.
Christmas Tree! Balance on one foot placing your other foot on the opposite thigh. Bring your arms up high to be a beautiful tall Christmas Tree.
You can also do a group Christmas Tree by all standing in a tight circle doing tree pose with hands meeting in the middle.
Now decorate the Trees with the Christmas lights and other decorations you brought. This will also help the kids to stay for a long time in the pose!
Human Christmas Tree - Another Christmas Tree can be where all the children lie in a circle with heads touching in the middle. Slowly, everyone moves up into the candle. Guide them to bring their feet high up in the centre.
Fairy lights – Continuing from the previous pose, in the candle, take turns to lift legs up and down to simulate the lights flashing on and off.
Stack On The Gifts - Time to put the gifts down under the tree for the children before they all wake up… Stack your Child Poses one on top of the other as high as you can. It is easier to place the bigger people on the bottom and the lightest ones on top.
Wow… This was a lot of hard work… Let’s lie down and relax.
Christmas Wreath – All children (and parents) lie down with heads in the centre of the circle. Link arms or hold hands to become a Christmas Wreath. Calm yourselves down with some deep breathing and get ready to receive your Christmas gift.
Santa’s Gift - We have helped Santa so much and now it’s time to snuggle up and go to sleep in our bed, it is almost morning time. So take some deep breaths and make yourself all cozy and quiet.
Imagine that you are lying down in your bed, in your room, now on Christmas Morning...
You wake up to the gentle sound of bells as Santa’s sled is leaving with the reindeer and elves now that all of the other Santa’s helpers (all the children in the class here) have also gone to bed.
Slowly see yourself getting out of bed and walking towards your Christmas Tree… The lights on it are sparkling and there are piles of gifts all around it.
One of those gifts is calling you, you feel and you know that this is the gift from Santa to you… It is wrapped beautifully and it is kind of shining with a magical glow...
Slowly and carefully unwrap the gift. Watch it open magically half on its own… You may be positively surprised that it is actually not a material gift, not just another toy to add to your collection… Rather it is a spiritual gift.
It’s not a gift you can touch, but a gift that you really need, a gift you can feel in your heart.
Maybe it’s a gift of love, or health, or success, or patience, or just a message… you know best what gift you need to receive now.
Accept Santa’s special gift and thank him and all of the elves.
Take a deep breath and let this amazing gift enter your body with your breath and come all the way into your heart and become a part of you.
(Allow the children to stay in silence for another moment here).
Wiggle your fingers and toes, and remember that this most special Christmas gift will stay with you forever.
Slowly open your eyes and sit up.