Zoocation – Animal Yoga
While we’re staying at home and social distancing, it’s more important than ever to practice calmness, mindfulness, and body awareness. This can be especially important for children as it helps them to develop the tools they’ll need in everyday life to calm themselves during stressful situations. In fact, you may have noticed animals often move or stretch their bodies in certain ways which helps them to stretch and stay healthy, to relax, and to remain alert when faced with new situations.
So today, we’re going to take a page from our animal friends in the wild, as well as some of our animal ambassadors here at Alligator Attraction Wildlife Learning Center, and do some Animal Yoga!
Zoocation – Animal Yoga
What you’ll need: Nothing, if you’re in a place that is carpeted or outdoors in the grass. If you’re on harder ground or a room that has hard floors, then each person will need a soft mat, towel, or blanket to stand and sit on. You may also want to print out the animal yoga handout we’ve included with this activity to use as a reference for the different positions. (include handout).
Time: Whatever you have available.
Age Range: Children (and adults!) of all ages.
Grab a towel, mat,or blanket or clear some space on a carpet or outside in the grass in your yard. Leave plenty of space between you and the people around you so you have room to move around. Then start by sitting on the floor with your group.
We’ll start by being a bunny rabbit, just like Stormy here at our attraction. Bunnies hop around all over the wild searching for yummy grass and wild vegetables to eat. But, they have to breathe deeply and fill their lungs up with air so they can move quickly and get to the best food first. Breathe deeply through your nose, feeling the air go all the way to your belly. Then push the air back out through your mouth. Do this several times to calm and focus yourself and get your body ready to move.
Next, we’ll imagine we are a beautiful butterfly. Ask the members of the group what color butterfly they would be. Stay seated with your feet and knees touching in front of you. Now slowly let your knees fall open like the wings of a butterfly. Flap your wings slowly and gently to your comfort level as you imagine fluttering gently through the air. On your last stretch, try to spread your wings as far as you can and hold that position for a 10 count. Did your knees go all the way down to the ground?
Now, we’ll pretend to be a two-toed sloth, like our friend Sid. When sloths are moving around through the rainforest, they will sometimes stretch out to their full length so they can reach between tree branches and vines that are far apart. Start by standing up with your feet shoulder-width apart and both arms at your sides. Then, slowly raise your arms in a circle motion until your palms touch above your head. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then lower your arms slowly back to your sides in the same motion. Try to reach a little higher each time while still keeping your feet flat;y on the floor.
From there, you will transition into a Frog pose. Frogs, like our barking green tree frog, Kermit, need to have their muscles loose so they can hop as high and as far as they can. With your feet still shoulder width apart, you’ll squat down as low as you can while keeping your back straight. Then with your palms touching, you’ll rest an elbow on each knee. Flex your muscles slightly while in this position like you are getting ready for the biggest jump ever! After you hold this position for a few seconds, you can lower yourself onto your hands and knees.
Once you’re ready place your hands below your shoulders and your hips above your knees, just like you’re getting ready to crawl. Pretend you’re a curly haired tarantula, like our friend Charlotte. She needs to search for insects to hunt. Tilt your head up and drop your belly toward the floor. No bugs up there, so now arch your back and drop your head down. Alternate between those two positions slowly a few times.
Only a couple more to go. Now that you’ve stretched, you get to pretend you are Chip or Fido and do an Alligator pose! Alligators often need to push themselves up onto logs or river banks. With your hands planted firmly under your shoulders, move your feet back, and with a straight back slowly lift your knees off the ground (like the start position for a push-up). How long can you keep your body in this position? After a few seconds, you can lower yourself back to your knees.
Finally, we’ll do my favorite position. We’re going to pretend we are a fire skink and rest. Skinks are a species of lizard that resemble a snake with a long, thick body but with legs! They are shy, so they love to burrow and hide under the soil. Sink down to the floor and lay on your back. With your arms by your side and your feet relaxed so they fall to the side, breathe in and out slowly and relax. Great job!!!
We’d love to see your pictures of your yoga class and their different poses. Send them to us!