Yoga Dance Choreography

Didi Ananda Ragamaya gave a class on Yoga Dance Choreography at the NHE Summit . The following are notes from a power point presentation she put together on the subject, and some guidelines for applying them to a few selected pieces of music and asanas.

Alternative Ways of Teaching Asanas to Children

By Didi Ananda Ragamaya

The ways in which children learn best include Drama, Play, Stories, Movement, Games, Music and Dance. Yoga Dance / Choreography is a flow of yoga asanas to music and songs, which may combine some simple dance movements. There are many benefits to using this approach. Some of them are as follows:
  • With regards to songs, the children learn meaningful themes in a more subliminal way through the lyrics that go with the poses
  • The children are more able to keep focussed as they move to the rhythm of the music.
  • There is scope for interactive as well as individual movement
  • This approach lends itself to group learning and cooperation (for example when I taught a group of teenagers and gave them homework to choreograph something together, they were very enthused and worked well together in designing their own beautiful “yoga dance”)
  • Scope for creative expression
  • Physically, it is a very healthy form of exercise
  • There are many different ways one can use this style
  • Thoroughly enjoyable!

Yoga dance includes a short yoga series repeated to a verse of a song or a phrase of music, with a continuous flow of varied poses for the duration of the whole piece. These can be created for individuals, for pairs and for different size groups. It can also be done with different types of classes such as:

  • Part of morning circle
  • Once a week as physical education class
  • Specific classes in yoga centres for children of varying ages
  • Parent and child classes (adults enjoy it too!)
  • It can be modified for all ages

Depending on the age of the children, they can be encouraged to create their own flows. You could find a song that is relevant for the theme being taught and have the children put together an asana “dance” to go with it in pairs or small groups or simply design one yourself to show them.

Experiment with different types of music such as:

  • Children’s songs
  • Different ethnic music from various traditions
  • Modern music with appropriate lyrics (especially with teenagers)
  • Different tempos

Experiment and be creative with different types of asanas. Try to be aware of including a range of poses:
static, dynamic, standing, sitting, lying, stretching, balancing, twisting, forward bending, back bending etc

Be sure to Enjoy, Be creative, Explore, Express and Let’s Yoga Dance!

A few specific Yoga Choreography Ideas that were demonstrated by Didi Ananda Ragamaya at the NHE Summit 2006, Sweden CNS are included below. 
They utilize the NHE CD “Joyful Things” and some well known yoga postures.

1. MUSIC: From “Joyful things” CD: Tall Trees – track #9
Tree pose – bird pose both sides Swaying palm tree and then swing down and around – both sides
Repeat all.2. MUSIC: I walk in peace/ Open up your eyes – track #8
“I walk in peace”
Start in cat pose – tiger stretch both left and right side
Sit back on heels arms prostrated
Sit up on knees and bend back and open arms to sky
Repeat all
“During musical interlude”
Two x cat pose
Downward dog – raise each leg and walk feet to hands so end up in standing forward bend – uncurl and come up

“Open up your eyes”
Legs wide, arms out to side – arms above head, hands together – turn to right side and go into warrior pose #1. Repeat on left side.
Back to centre – interlink hands behind back – bend forward – come up
Legs wide, arms out to side – raise hands over head – bend knees and go into squat with hands in Namaskar – extend hands forward, arms straight and chin to chest – return to squat with hands in Namaskar
Sit with legs crossed – right arm side bend – up – left arm side bend – big circle with arms bending forward. Repeat and add two arms circles at the end.
Return to “I walk in peace”.

3. MUSIC: We are many, many rivers / The river is flowing – track #3 
“We are many, many rivers”
Start sitting with legs open and make wave movements with arms
Wave and lean to left and then right – then reach over to left side bring right hand to left leg – come up – repeat on the right side and then come up – sweep arms and bend forward as move upper body from right to left and then from left to right – then one big circle with arms , bending forward – wave arms – repeat all.

“The river is flowing”
Sit with legs outstretched in front – sweep arms forward and bend over legs – sweep back up – roll back to lying – arms and legs 90 degrees to floor – bend knees to chest and wrap arms around knees and rock from side to side – arms and legs back up to 90 degrees to floor and then back into plough – swing up in to sitting and begin again. (this is quite fast!)
Return to “We are many, many rivers.”