Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequences
Michael Chissick and Sarah Peacock
Singing Dragon (JKP)
Using a variety of sea creature characters, yoga teacher Michael Chissick weaves a narrative through which the ‘Sun Salutation’ sequence is introduced, thus making it highly accessible to all primary aged children.
The Sun Salutation is a sequence of linked postures that should help children to feel confident and positive about themselves. To this end he offers four sequences, three of which have been specially modified to suit the particular needs of wheelchair users; those with autism or sensory problems; those who for one reason or anther – cerebral palsy or a temporary problem that makes it hard for them to stand up and the first, for children whose bodies are not yet sufficiently supple for the full sequence (here called the Challenging Sun Sequence).
Chissick has carefully selected sea animals to represent the various challenges children may be faced with: Toddler and Junior the Starfish Brothers, have very stiff backs so Seahorse teaches them the first “Sun Sequence” breaking it down into a cyclical sequence and reassuringly telling the brothers to go only as far as they can with the bending and stretching. This one involves some twisting the author calls “curly whirly 1’ and ‘curly whirly 2’.
Eel is a wheelchair user …
and Starfish has a specially adapted sequence for her, which helps to make her feel included.
Then comes Crab; he likes things to be done in a strict order but doesn’t like being with others. Seahorse knows just how to help him and allows Crab to do a version of the sequence sitting in a chair; and soon Crab too feels much happier.
Octopus, a highly competitive creature, has been badly injured (six broken legs) in a pole vaulting competition so Seahorse teaches him a Sitting Sun Salutation
that allows even a creature in such a bad physical state to do a sequence of postures: a liberating experience for the injured character.
Finally, after several months, Seahorse encounters the Starfish Brothers again and decides they are ready for another challenge and proceeds to teach them the ‘Challenging Sun Sequence”,
the one most adult yogis are likely to be familiar with.
Throughout the story, Seahorse is gently encouraging, explaining the benefits of what he’s teaching and in true yoga teacher fashion, never making any of the learners feel inadequate: “Do you best … You’ll soon get the hand of it,” he tells each one in turn.
There is a straightforward ‘Guidance for teachers, Professionals and Parents’ introduction to the book. This explains Surya Namaskar simply and clearly, as well as explaining how the book can be used and the final pages give more details about the various sequences and offers a case study. And, from my viewpoint as an experienced teacher of yoga and early years teacher it’s good to see this message stated loudly and clearly: ‘children’s yoga is not about perfection in the posture’. Amen to that!
From personal experience I know that using stories when teaching yoga to young children is very effective and this beautifully illustrated book is likely to be welcomed by all of us who work to bring yoga and children together no matter what the setting.
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