THE MAGIC OF MUSIC: FOCUS!
So you have this great lesson plan for your kids' yoga class, but you can't get the kids to hold any particular pose long enough to really get the benefits. Or, you’re a classroom teacher, and you’re having trouble keeping the kids’ attention where it needs to be.
Music and rhythm increase oxygen flow to the brain, putting it in a highly focused state. When we listen to music, far more regions of the brain are engaged than when simply listening to someone speak. Use this to your advantage! Here are some simple, fun ideas for you to try:
—Challenge kids with tongue twisters ("she sells seashells..." or "betty botter bought some butter”). They’re impossible to do if you're not concentrating on them. If they’re easy, ask kids to say it faster and faster. If that’s easy, incorporate movement. Or try it while hopping on one foot!
— Rhythm, the most basic building block of music, is your best friend when it comes to focus. You can challenge kids with rhythm games of varying difficulty. Start a basic rhythm—like two taps on your lap, then a clap. Everyone in the room has to copy you. You pass it to the right, and that person has to add another movement or sound, and around the room you go. You’ve got to be on the ball to keep up!
—Create a spoken word rhythm to a beat. With kids repetition works, and rhymes really help. Make your instructions into a “rap” of sorts. (Listen to “The Shimmy” from Dance for the Sun for an example).
—Freeze dance: clap or play a drum a beat, everyone has to march in time. When the beat stops, everyone freezes into a pose you've called out, or one of their choice.
—Sing a simple song or melody while completing a task, or holding a yoga pose. It helps kids keep their attention on the job at hand, and makes them more likely to stick with it. Try it yourself: hold surfer pose (warrior 2) in silence for a moment, and then try it while singing a surfing song (like "Surfer Mama” from Dance for the Sun). The second one probably feels a whole lot easier to hold with the incorporation of music, and it’s definitely more fun!
After a few minutes of trying one of these ideas, kids’ brains will be in focus mode where you need them. I’d love to hear how it goes. Please leave a comment below!