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Build your own Vinyasa


My kids' yoga classes are often organic. I go in with a plan, but the more the children learn about yoga, the more they want to have a say. Kids' lives are so structured and yoga is about feeling good in your body, so why shouldn't we work together to create a class?

Vinyasas or yoga flows are a sequence of poses that flow together. Or, as one girl suggested this week, they are a 'routine'. The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is possibly the most well known vinyasa, linking together Mountain pose with a forward fold, stepping back into a plank, scooping down through Ashtanga Namaskar to Cobra, sweeping up to Downward Facing Dog before stepping forwards to Mountain pose again. Or, for those children who have done a LOT of Joe Wicks over the last couple of lockdowns, a slow-motion burpee.

The last time I tried to explain what a Vinyasa was and asked children to come up with their own, it ended up with them creating a series of tableaux, so I hadn't attempted it since. But this week it just seemed to happen organically so we went with it.

In the first of my Key Stage 2 classes this week, we had a go at a Moon Salutation (Chandra Namaskar). My favourite is by Shiva Rea and you can watch it here: Moon Salutation Video | Watch Shiva Rea's Moon Salutation (yogajournal.com)

This is quite a complicated vinyasa as you have to swivel your feet round from a side plank to a wide legged forward fold without lifting them. We went through it a couple of times together and the children were able to master it. I asked the class if they'd like to try doing it without me giving instructions.

Sometimes they like this challenge, but today they looked doubtful.

"Well just have a go," I suggested. "Don't worry about whether it's right or wrong. In fact, just make it up."

"Really?" they asked.

"Well you could add some of your favourite poses in," I said. "Like, you can do Wild Thing when you've done Downward Facing Dog, or you could stand up and do a balance..."

So they went off and worked on their vinyasas. They took it in turns to show it to the other class members, who all joined in, while I wrote them down using stick yogis. It was interesting to see what their favourite poses are! One group also spontaneously included a Lotus Mudra without knowing what it was.

It worked so well, that I did it with my other classes this week. As a result I have now written down ten different vinyasas named after the children who created them. I've copied them out more neatly and will give them back to the children. You can see some of them here. Aren't they inventive?

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