Here are some ideas for celebrating love and friendship through movement and yoga with your child or class!
Warming Up: Making Valentines
What are some things we need to make Valentines for our friends? (Brainstorm and list supplies like paper, glue, paint, glitter, etc). Use your body to make a Valentine!
PAPER: Lay down flat on the floor like a piece of paper. Can you fold your paper? (Bring one arm and leg over to cover the other arm and leg, laying on side) What are other ways we could fold the paper? (Head toward feet, feet toward head, etc)
SCISSORS: Lay on back and stretch legs up to sky. Keeping knees very straight, bring one leg toward your head and reach the other leg away from you and then change legs, like the action of a pair of scissors.
PAINT: Standing with feet wide, use hands as paintbrushes, fingertips touching the floor and sway from side to side, painting your Valentine.
STAMPS/GLITTER/GLUE: Imagine the mat (or towel) is the Valentine. Play with whatever actions these suggestions inspire in your students. For example, they may use different parts of their body (elbow, belly, feet) to stamp firmly down onto the mat. Pretend some body parts are stuck in glue to the floor or to each other, and see what creative shapes and movements are made!
Creative Movement: Balloon Hug Dance
Partner up! Each pair receives one balloon (not blown up to maximum capacity as it will be more difficult that way) or a large soft ball. Have the partners face each other and place the balloon between their bellies. The goal is to keep the balloon from falling without using your hands. With some music playing, this could turn into a silly dance party or challenge the students to get from one end of the room to the other without the balloons falling. Another option (more difficult) is to keep the balloons between partners' backs instead.
For younger students (2s-3s), or if you don't have balloons, play a freeze dance game instead. When the music stops, find a partner and sit down back to back (or feet to feet, elbows to elbows, etc).
I cut out several red paper hearts and wrote a riddle on one side (inspired by candy heart sayings), and the partner pose on the other side. I've provided several examples here, but encourage you or the children to have fun making up other riddles and their partner pose answers. Make sure there are enough hearts for each student (or pair) to pick one out of a hat, basket or mailbox. My students loved guessing which pose the riddle referred to before turning the heart over. I've listed our poses in a more traditional sequence (standing, heat-building poses at the beginning and cooling stretches at the end), so you can put the cards in order if you'd like, but it's not terribly important in a playful kids' class
"BUILD ON OUR FRIENDSHIP" (Rooftop Pose)
Stand facing partner, palms pressed together. Begin to raise hands up and take a step or two back so as to form the shape of a house, with arms as the roof. Work with your partner to keep the house from falling down.
"LET'S GET LUNCH!" (Table and Chair Pose)
One partner does Upward Facing Table by sitting with hands behind hips and feet on floor, knees bent; lift seat so belly and thighs are flat. The other partner sits in Chair Pose next to their table.
"PLAY TOGETHER, STAY TOGETHER" (Downward Dog)
In Downward Dog, take turns crawling underneath each other. Or, make a tunnel with all the students and let one dog at a time go through the tunnel.
"FRIENDSHIP IS POWER" (Warrior 2)
Do Warrior 2 back to back. Ease in to the pose slowly, so you don't knock your friend over.
"FLYING FRIENDS" (Airplane/Warrior III)
Holding hands, take a big step back so you have to lean forward at the hips. Slowly let one leg rise up behind you and balance, still holding hands.
"BICYCLE BUILT FOR TWO" (Bicycle Variation)
Sit down facing your partner, knees bent and feet touching. Lean back on your hands or elbows as you lift your feet up. Pedal your feet in circles, forward and backwards, keeping the bottoms of your feet together.
"LIFE IS BUT A DREAM" (Boat Pose)
From Bicycle, scoot a little closer to your partner so your legs can straighten and you can hold hands in boat pose, with feet touching. Your bodies will make a "W" shape! Try rowing as you hold hands.
"MORE ARMS = MORE HUGS" (Octopus Pose)
Sit back to back, leaning on each other for support and lift arms and legs (eight total!) and wave them slowly as though moving through water.
"RUN TO THE SEA WITH ME" (River Pose/Seated Forward Fold)
Sit facing partner, legs straight and feet touching. Reach arms high and then fold forward over legs. See if you can touch your partner's feet and give them a little foot massage! (Knees may bend for easier reach)
"FRIENDS MAKE LIFE COLORFUL" (Rainbow Pose/Seated Wide-Legged Stretch)
Sit with legs in a 45 degree angle (or more), facing partner, feet touching. Palms touch, reach arms up and then from side to side, creating a big arc-shape like a rainbow. Guess your partner's favorite color as you stretch!
"FEEL THE BEAT" (Back-to-Back Breathing)
Sit in easy pose (legs crossed), backs touching. Slow down your breath and see if you can match your breath to your partner's breath. Can you feel the rhythm of your partner's heartbeat through their back? Younger students may need an additional focus, so you can give one partner a stuffed animal or other small object, and have them pass it to the side so their partner can reach it, and make the object travel around the pair in circles. This is a nice finishing pose.
To finish class, come back to a circle and talk about the experience of doing these poses (which the children may already have known as poses you do by yourself) with a partner. Which poses were easier to do with a friend? Were any poses more difficult? Did you laugh more in yoga when you practiced poses with a friend?
You may want to finish by reading a book together. Here are some suggestions for books about friendship and love, linked to Amazon. feel free to add your favorites in the comments below! I'd also love to hear ideas for more riddles for your partner poses, if you make some up with your students!
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff
Just my Friend and Me by Mercer Mayer
My Pal Victor: Mi Amigo Victor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand (Bilingual in English and Spanish)