Besides the yoga poses suggested by the book, there are many ways to extend the content of this book according to your needs. Below there is a list of activities I came up with while writing the book and testing with my yoga students. Feel free to explore them, and also to share with us any ideas you have on how to further explore the rainforest theme.
A few notes about the yoga poses: Please make sure there is room for you to move your body in a safe way. Always exercise mindfully, moving slowly, warming up before bending your body and respecting what it tells you, as these exercises are not supposed to hurt. Encourage your friends, kids, or students to stay for as long as they can in the poses (there are time suggestions for some poses, never exceeding a minute, except for savasana, the final relaxation you may add to the end). The time in the pose varies with each person’s ability in terms of strength, flexibility, endurance, etc. With little kids the aim could be five to ten seconds in a pose, and with older ones it could be extended a little longer. Sometimes it helps to count or sing while in the pose or talk about interesting facts about the animals or plants being imitated. As the kids practice the poses, they will get better and better, so time spent in the pose can increase.
It is great to give a big emphasis on breath. That is why I have included reminders such as “Remember to breathe!” when describing a pose. Many people get into a pose and hold their breaths, which makes the pose even harder. We need to remember to breathe while in the poses. Sometimes this can be facilitated by orchestrating the movements with the breath, yet some poses are still. So, just remind everyone else to breathe or breathe so loud that others will hear you and hopefully join you. With younger kids it is usually hard to have them breathe in and out through their noses. But with older ones, this concept can be introduced while doing the first pose and maybe revisited a few times while performing the other poses. Breathing in and out through the nose is known to calm the nervous system.
In fact, breathing helps us regulate our state of mind. So, if you feel upset, angry or nervous, you can take long slow deep breaths to calm down, especially exhaling longer than inhaling. If you feel tired, quick short breaths will help you regain energy. When you perform a pose, do not forget to breathe (here I am reminding you again!)! Keep breathing steadily and even try to pay attention to your breath. That will be your first signal to know if you have gone too far into the pose. In other words, if you start to breathe with difficulty, that probably means you are forcing your body too deep into the pose, past your safe zone. Just back off until you find your regular breathing rhythm again.
I can’t emphasize enough that poses should be practiced on relatively empty stomachs. Please wait until at least one hour has passed after a light meal to try the poses.
You may notice that it feels different to practice on different days, just beware of it so you won’t have the same expectations every time. You may also realize one side feels stronger or more open than the other. It’s all good! Practicing poses will help bring the body back into balance and smooth out any stiffness. Eventually there will be not even any discomfort felt when doing the poses.
This is the kind of book that can be read with the same group more than once on different days (2 weeks apart or more) and it could bring a different experience every time you read it, offering new possibilities and new discoveries. Let your imagination take you to new heights!