All kids know at least one Mudra - a Thumbs Up, the "OK" symbol, the traditional Peace Sign, made with two fingers in the shape of a V, the Hawaiian "Hang Loose" symbol with the pinky and thumb extended. A traditional picture of a Yogi usually shows one sitting tall with his or her hands in Jnana Mudra (index and thumb touching). But what is a Mudra? A Mudra is also known as Hand Yoga. It’s placing your hand into a certain shape and concentrating on the meaning of that shape. Each finger has both a sound and a meaning that can be used to help a child understand the idea of a Mudra. I drew this visual to aid in that process and made a copy for each child:
(image coming soon)
Over the first finger, I had them write Sa. Sa is the Self. I had them think of one or two words that describes them and write them down the first finger. I reminded them to use their own words, not words that someone else may use to describe them, since children are often labeled at home and school. I had them think about everything they love about themselves because we are all divine individuals each in our own ways.
Over the second finger I had them write Ta. Ta is emotions or feelings. I had them think of one or two feelings they were feeling right at that moment. I reminded them to always good check in with how they are feeling. Sometimes things get so crazy we forget to look inside to see how we are really feeling about something. Are we happy? Are we sad? And to remember feelings come and go. One can be happy one second and sad the next. Emotions are funny like that.
Over the third finger I had them write Ma. Ma is family (and often a baby's first word). I had them think about their families - the family they live with and the family they don’t live with. There is a special bond that one has with all members of their family no matter where they are – and even when it seems like that bond may not be there, it is. Families are constantly changing and that’s okay because family members always have a special place in our hearts. Down the third finger, the wrote one or two words to describe their family.
Over the last finger, I had them write Na. Na is creativity. I had them think about how creative they are - about one or two activities that they enjoy doing that keep their creative juices flowing. It could be anything that sparks the imagination – drawing, writing, painting, singing, dancing, YOGA. Or even style – how you dress, the colors you like, or how your do your hair. It can be anything! Even daydreaming! Any creative use of the imagination is important.
Once all the fingers were labeled, they placed the worksheets in front of them with hands face up on their knees. Remembering to be mindful of their breath as always, they were given the option to touch their thumb to each finger, thinking silently about the word or words you wrote down on each of your fingers. Or thinking of the meaning of each finger – Sa is myself, Ta is my feelings, etc. Or simply moving their fingers, making the sounds, and thinking of nothing at all...the ultimate goal.
The children respected that yoga is not just a form of exercise. They seem to get that right off the bat. We talked about how yoga is also a reflection of ourselves, a time to look inside and maybe ask, what's going on in there? It doesn't mean they need to "figure out" what's going on in there, but just be aware. Yoga is about being aware of themselves, how they feel, what they think, and then accepting what comes up - no matter what that may be.