“Life is like a rainbow: you need both the rain and the sun to make its colour appear.” ~unknown.
This term the theme is “Somewhere over the rainbow…”. The sight of a rainbow often leaves one with a feeling of hope. As the drought in the Western Cape continues to get worse, I thought we could do with a bit of hope for more rain and rainbows this term.
At the start of each class, we passed around a ball of coloured rainbow wool. Each child had a chance to express how they were feeling and then pick another child to pass the wool to. The ball of wool went around each circle a couple of times, resulting in a beautiful, rainbow-coloured web. Each point connecting each child to the circle and so too every other child in the circle. We then breathed together as a group, raising our hands on the inhale while still holding the web and taking a deep, long exhale while bringing our arms down. We did this a few times. A lovely exercise to connect a group of children to the breath and each other.
I then discussed with the children how all the colours of the rainbow can be found in nature. That red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet are not colours “invented” by people but that they are actually naturally occurring colours that we can see all around us. That got their attention! I had a box full of interesting items from nature that I had found in my garden, Keurboom Park and Newlands Forest. It was lovely to hear some of the children exclaim with delight that they had found something similar in their garden or in the forest. Spending time in nature and outdoors is so important for kids! I cannot express that enough.
I had a red rose from my own garden. The rose bush it came from is over eighty years old and the smell of each rose it produces is incredible. For orange, I had some petals of the Lucky Bean tree (Erythrina lysistemon) that I had found in Keurboom Park. They have a very interesting crescent-shape. Yellow was represented by some lichen that I found on a stone on Newlands Forest. For green I had a variety of interesting leaves and pine needles including a newly formed pinecone that had not yet turned brown. For blue I showed the children the remains of a small blue egg from a Cape Robin that my son had found in our garden. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a physical item for indigo but we discussed how a stormy sky can sometimes be indigo or the deep parts of the ocean. One little girl also mentioned the beautiful feathers of a peacock that have some indigo in them. And finally, for violet, I had some tiny violet-coloured flowers from one of the Keurboom trees (Virgilia oroboides) in Keurboom Park.
Each item was passed around the group so each child had an opportunity to touch, admire, study and smell the various items. A lovely sensory experience.
From there we moved into some mindful movement. We started by tapping our bodies gently with our fingers all over, imaging gentle raining pitter pattering on us. It was interesting to note how different the tapping can feel on various parts of the body. I personally love the sensation of the tapping on my shoulders and soles of my feet, while others enjoyed the tapping on the palms of their hands and others even their chests (although these were occasionally accompanied by gorilla sounds so perhaps that was the attraction!).
I then asked the children what else we need, other than rain, to make a rainbow. One little guy of 4 years old, shouted “monkeys!”. Too cute. He was referring to the age-old idea of a monkey’s wedding. So yes, we needed some sunshine. We all moved into child’s pose, rested there for a bit and then slowly transitioned into standing mountain pose with arms up high to signify the rising sun. At this point we practised “Reach for the Sun” as I asked each child to grab some sunshine from the sun and place it in their hearts. Beautiful smiles all round ?
I then suggested that we needed some wind to blow away the rain clouds so that the sun could shine brightly and produce a rainbow. We did a modified, gentler version of Volcano pose to represent the wind blowing away the rain clouds. Finally, we had our rainbow! We all moved into rainbow pose – once on each side – to end our rainbow yoga sequence.
I think the children really connected with this sequence since many of them are fully aware of the severity of the current drought. Awareness for protecting and caring for our environment is key, even for young children, so it was lovely to how well this simple sequence resonated with them.
After the mindful movement, it was time for some letting go and relaxation. I played the Rainbow track from the beautiful cd by Beaming Kids. A wonderful breathing visualisation, imagining breathing in the different colours of rainbow light to calm and restore the body.
And then it was time for the final exercise – mindful art in motion. With the simple ingredients of milk, food colouring and a bit of washing up liquid, we created amazing, moving patterns. I coupled it with an exercise in connecting with the breath. So, as we dipped the washing up liquid into the milk, I asked the children to take a long, slow breath out and to keep breathing out for as long as the colours moved. Fantastic mindful exercise for the kids. They were mesmerised and fully attentive to the changing colours and patterns.
So, all in all, a wonderful start to the final term of 2017.
“Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.” ~ Kahlil Gibran