I couldn’t be more grateful that I teach yoga and mindfulness to people of all ages for my actual job, but when I got a call the other day asking me to hold a yoga party for a group of 10 year old girls I was super excited. I love being able to get creative with my class plans but I knew that holding a birthday party for a girl reaching her ‘double digits’ had to be extra special...
So why is being 10 such a special age?
1. They’ve got the hang of being a kid now and can do a lot without the help of an adult - this makes them optimistic and excited about life!
2. They are beginning to explore their own identity
3. Establishing and celebrating their friendships is paramount
4. They aspire to be a little older and have a growing thirst to show their independence; they are looking for experiences that empower them
With this in mind I wanted my yoga party to focus on the following:
Practising asanas that empower them
Celebrate their friendship, enhance their team-working skills and bond them even more as a friendship group
Understand techniques to help them to explore their identity (feelings, thoughts and moods); e.g. learning how to ‘chill out’ or ‘uplift’ their mood and letting them take the lead on this
Make them giggle and leave them feeling fantastic!
And here is what we did…
(To help centre the girls and get to know one another)
Om singing - followed by welcoming each girl individually by Om singing their name
What’s your weather - a projective technique to check in and to see how they are - most were feeling very sunny that day :-)!
I had some beautiful bindis from India and as it was a special occasion I let each girl choose one to wear. They had a lot of fun choosing from the colours (I had to remind them we only had an hour). Wearing the bindis celebrated their group identity whilst the differing colours allowed their individuality to be expressed.
2. Breathing exercises
We had a short discussion about how they feel and the types of moods they experience across the day. One mood that came up was, 'feeling sleepy' (not surprisingly, as kids do so much these days and have so much pressure on them).
I told them about ‘rock star head swinging’ or ‘conductors breath’, which is incredibly energising and really uplifted their spirits. To do this you breath in and lift your hands above your head, then with a dynamic movement you drop your head and hands between your legs and make a ‘ha’ sounds. You repeat this a few times before hanging out in rag doll pose.
A technique to relax: Using our fingers we made 10 candles on a ‘birthday cake’ (yes the girls are little old for extremely imaginary stuff but this worked in the birthday context!). One by one we inhaled through our nose and then softly blew out each candle. This calmed them down and focused their attention again.
3. A yoga game
To work as a team and have some fun we played ‘the circle of trust game’.
We made a circle and one member of the group stood in the middle with their eyes closed. Starting in mountain and grounding their feet they then swayed from side to side and the rest of the team helped to hold them up and prevent them from falling.
It felt right to do partner yoga in this context. It’s so much fun and the girls get to work together as they negotiate the asana. Here are some of the parter poses we practised:
a. Seesaw into double boat - holding hands and touching the soles of their feet together they lift their legs up
b. Warrior friends - warrior pose but holding hands
c. Open heart - where one partner stands behind the other and takes their wrists. The partner in front then leans forwards allowing the partner at the back to take their weight and ‘open their hearts’.
d. Rooftops - facing each other they touch palms together, they then lean forward and push their hands up, taking each others weight
e. Double pretzel - a seated twist where you hold hands and gentle pull each other deeper into the twist
f. Rock and Lizard (always a favourite!). One child takes rock pose (child’s pose) the other sits on the lowest point on their partner’s (the rock) back, facing away from their partner. They then lean their weight backward, with help from me, and lie across their partner with their arms above their head, like a lizard.
(Making a giant birthday cake)
In a tight circle we took candle pose. We rested our feet on to each other for the flames. When the flames went out we hugged our knees to our chest, when we lit the flames again we lifted up our legs, and when the flames got really big we moved into plough pose, bringing our legs over our heads.
6. Creative task
In the spirit of giving and sharing we spent the final part of the session creating little promises in the form of ‘I owe you cards’.
Each girl made a pledge e.g. to give a hug, to share their sweets, to hold a sleepover, to give a massage etc for a friend. They then decorated their cards.
We then sat in a circle and delivered the cards to each member of the group.
7. Short relaxation
Lying down I asked the girls to remember all the things that make them happy. Thinking about the positive things in our lives actually has an uplifting affect on our mood, which felt like a perfect way to wrap up.
8. We then finished by singing happy birthday - of course! :-)
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed creating it. I develop yoga parties for all different aged children, ensuring they meet the developmental needs of every child. Some of the other themes I draw upon are ‘Pop Star’ yoga party, ‘Superhero’ yoga party and ‘Disney Frozen’ yoga party - to name a few!
If you are looking to create an extra special birthday for your child’s party and live in Tunbridge Wells area or the South East of England contact me today :-) 07834 518 619 / firstname.lastname@example.org