What it feels like to “fly”
There’s something calming about birds in flight.
I’ve always enjoyed watching birds fly. I’ve also often wondered, how having such an amazing ability feels. Flying is one thing that has not only fascinated me but many, particularly those who were so influenced by its marvel they felt the need to invent machines in its honor - allowing many of us a mere taste of what it feels like to “fly”.
More than that, there is a unique sense of calm that moves through me when I watch a bird in flight. My eyes gaze at the way their outstretched wings dance in the wind. My mind reflects on the poise, confidence, and strength required to keep themselves in the air, control their movement in unpleasant weather as well as when landing or even hunting for food in challenging terrain. My body longs to be as free as they are when flying high above the trees and rooftops, at one with the clouds and coloring the already magnificent blue sky.
If I feel this way, there’s no reason to question why children love dreaming or pretending they are birds, butterflies, bees, and even airplanes.
Flying is as magical as rainbows, unicorns, and other dreamy things imagination brings to mind, so why deny them the opportunity to experience the world of imagination for a bit? To replicate real life for some members of the animal kingdom, those whose physical structure and body compositions allow them the ability of aerial locomotion. There’s a lot to learn and gain from allowing children to “fly like a birdie”. Children gain a better understanding of the differences in the world and respect these differences and the underlying reasons. Additionally, they gain a better understanding of the other organisms we share planet earth with. In the grand scheme of things, this type of play allows children to associate and understand movement and the application of observation and representation to their own movement - and movement is an integral part of human development.
Movement is also necessary for yoga - understanding it, flowing through the different poses and positions, the roles of each body part in the facilitation of this process, and how one can control movement when it is required i.e when exploring different types of balance positions.
A kid’s yoga class is one of the best environments to truly explore these aspects, especially when using any sort of imaginative play sequence. This actually helps them connect to and with the information you are attempting to impart and the basis of the imaginative play scenario. More than that, it is a good idea to simply teach children about their body and its capabilities.
On the contrary, it is helpful to encourage them to pay attention to the similarities. In this case, similarities such as yoga being a calming, meditative activity and the ease of flight for a bird. Within those two scenarios, there is room to digress - how the human and birds’ body facilitates each respective activity. Strong breast muscles, the shape of the wing and movement of those wings help birds fly. For humans, muscles, body parts and movement of those parts help with one’s yoga practice. Again, strong and significant similarities.
The idea of applying one scenario to the next is where learning comes forth, as well as the focal point of this activity - a calming upper body stretch and imaginative (bird) play sequence, in which children will not only stretch but strengthen their “flying and landing” skills. 😉
HOW DID IT GO?
Exactly as planned.
This activity was simple enough for my younger students and also challenged the older ones. It required very little explanation as the imaginative play factor supported the common knowledge of which body parts one would have to engage throughout each stage of movement. Additionally, the associative aspect was not only clear but physically relatable.
My students always enjoy an imaginative play segue when practicing yoga together, more than that they absolutely love any activity that allows them the opportunity to excessively move their arms up and down. I guess the same can be said about most kids!
To increase the level of awareness, have a quick chat with your students about their upper body and how each part or muscle within that region assists with even the smallest movement. This information will expose them to the deeper meaning and purpose of yoga as well as the importance of each body part as it relates to movement. Also, awareness is a skill that is always appropriate to nurture.
Take a look!
Motivated by the relaxed nature of the Strala Yoga method, the following sequence moves through several simple, seated poses that can be seen not only in Strala Yoga but other methods as well. Additionally it is a splendid stretch even for adults and is immaculately calming for both body and mind.
Fly Birdie Fly,