Yoga Teddy Bear creator K. M. Copham, a visual artist and certified yoga teacher, came up with the idea of a teddy bear teaching yoga while thinking about how to make yoga more accessible and fun for kids and adults alike.
One of the things I love about yoga – and why I was inspired
to share it with the world in the form of a cartoon character – is the element
of play it naturally inspires.Many yoga
asanas are named after animals and objects, reflecting the very human tendency
to observe the natural world in order to learn, grow and create.I can imagine an early yogi looking at a
turtle and deciding to make his body into that shape. Some of the pose names stretch the
imagination, like the intertwined arms and legs of Eagle pose – while you don’t
look like an actual eagle in the pose, the energy in your limbs is bound like a
spring.That state of balance/imbalance
brings to mind a powerful eagle ready leap off a cliff and take flight.
Here are four playful yoga moves I like to practice that
will tickle your imagination and bring a smile to your lips – and your body.
1.Boat to Plow… and back!
This sequence is not only fun, it will give your spine a
gentle massage while it tones your abs.Begin
on your back on a soft surface like carpet or a yoga mat.Flex the muscles in your tummy to lift your
body and legs off the floor.Your knees
can be bent to make your body into a “V” shape.Try to balance on your tail like a boat on the water.Breathe deeply, then inhale and roll back
gently to lift your feet toward the sky and then right over your head into plow
pose.See if your toes touch the ground
above your head.Bend your knees if it
feels nice.Breathe deeply and relax.Roll back down keeping momentum enough to get
back onto your tail in boat pose.Roll
back and forth between plow pose and boat pose to the beat of your breath.
(Speaking of play, will you color this blog picture?)
2.Cow Face legs turnaround.* (Gomukasana)
Sit on the floor and stack your knees. Use your hands behind you to push yourself up
tall and get centered on the floor with your hips.Grasp your hands behind your back and/or fold
forward if it feels nice.Inhale and
lengthen, exhale and deepen.To switch
legs, keep your feet in place while you lean forward onto your hands and stand
up slightly.Without moving your feet
from their spot, walk your hands around behind you in a circle pivoting on your
feet until you are facing forward again.You’ll find that your other leg is now stacked on top!Try to spend the same amount of time on this
side.Grasp your hands behind your back
and/or fold forward like you did on the first side.Inhale and lengthen, exhale and deepen.
*Thanks to Nevine
Michaan at Katonah Yoga in New York City for teaching me this cool and super
(And this one, from the forthcoming 6th coloring book, "Balance & Bend")
3.Downward Facing Tree / Downward Facing Stick
Handstands can be a challenge, but it’s always fun to get
yourself upside down – or at least try. A
handstand is a great way to open your shoulders, tone your arms and maintain
your wrist strength.Try the way the
monkey is doing a handstand in my drawing.Warm up your shoulders with Downward Dog.Then measure: sit on the floor in stick pose (like
a capital “L”) with your back against the wall and your feet out in front of
you.Mark where your heels meet the
floor, then turn around with your back facing the wall and place the palms of
your hands just beyond that mark.Walk
your feet up the wall until you are in a handstand.Look between your hands or if you’re really
balanced, let your head hang.Keep on
breathing!Flex your arms, tummy and
legs and engage your energy locks to maximize the benefits.
This is just about everyone’s favorite pose, although Savasana
may trump it in a pose-to-pose showdown.Lay on your back.Hold the
outsides of your feet, or grab your big toe with two fingers in a Yogi Toe
Lock.Smile, wiggle, giggle, roll around
and give yourself a little back massage.Breathe deeply… and feel good!
Any time you practice yoga, you can make it your intention
to enjoy your body and have fun.It is an amazing blessing to live in a human body.Not only do we have the ability to manipulate our environments with opposable
thumbs and big brains, we enjoy long life spans, the ability to walk upright,
and extremely versatile bodies.It’s a
miracle when you really think about it.
In today’s modern world having an outlet for playful
physical release is a helpful tool for reducing stress and maintaining
sanity.Any yoga pose can be fun when
you use your creativity, imagination and breath. Start with the most basic yoga pose of all - the Yoga Teddy Bear Smile! I’ve had a blast creating my coloring books through
exploring all the fun ways to use my body and play with the names of yoga poses.I hope you have fun too!