This year, January 31st begins the Year of the Horse, and celebrations will last for weeks in many parts of Asia, but the holiday is celebrated in almost every part of the world. I created this class last year for my 4s-5s at Kids’ Work Preschool in Chicago, where I taught yoga & creative movement classes that went along with their weekly educational themes.
Next, we clean the house, a traditional family activity at New Year to prepare for a fresh start.
Now that our house is clean, we can eat our delicious “hot pot” dinner, a big kettle of broth that we will cook all of our favorite meats and vegetables in.
Rat Child’s Pose with elbows on floor, head propped up in hands, wiggle fingers like whiskers.
Monkey Gorilla Pose, swing arms (OR Hanuman’s Pose, starting in a runner’s hamstring stretch).
Rooster Sit in Lotus or Easy Pose, slide hands to floor between thighs and ankles, press down and flap legs like a rooster’s wings.
Pig Tabletop with hands in fists like hooves and toes curled under, wag curly pink tail and look over each shoulder, twisting side to side. A dancer from a young age, Elly fell in love with yoga in high school after finding a Power Yoga class on VHS at the library (which she practiced at night so her little brothers and sisters wouldn’t laugh at her). Oranges heaped in piles like gold and crisp red envelopes containing lucky amounts of money are given with wishes for a prosperous new year.

After spending three years living in Taiwan, my winters back home in the US feel brighter when I find ways to celebrate Chinese New Year—keeping me in touch with a culture that I fell in love with and a place I adopted as another home. I played “Attracting with Gongs and Drums” from the album of New Year Music, and the children tried to jump along with the clashing of the cymbals. I played the song “Pleasant Trip to Jingchou.” To clean the ceiling, stretch arms high in Standing Upward Reach. Sit facing a partner in Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana) and allow knees to bend and feet to touch, forming a circular “pot.” Hold hands and stir in circles to each direction.
There are different stories about how the animals were chosen, but many of them tell how the emperor had a race on his birthday, and the order in which the animals crossed the finish line determined their place in the zodiac. Because of their bright color and round shape, oranges symbolize gold coins and good fortune for the coming year.
Wish each other prosperity for the Year of the Horse with this gesture: Make a fist with the right hand and cup left hand around the fist. Sign up for our weekly Kids Yoga Stories Newsletter by adding your name and email address to the box at the top of the page! After graduating with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance, she began a regular yoga practice and completed a 200-hr Vinyasa yoga teacher training in Costa Rica with Jacqueline Heisel of Frog Lotus Yoga, International. Homes are being cleaned and swept and scrubbed from top to bottom—clearing out bad energy and preparing for a fresh beginning.

Squat down low (like Malasana or Frog) and then jump explosively, stretching arms and legs in all directions, making shapes in the air. I showed the kids the laminated cards before each pose, and then if you have extra time, you can use the cards for games like Musical Poses (set them around the room in a circle and when the music stops, do the pose you land on), flash card games to review the poses, etc. Families gather around steaming kettles to have “hot pot,” a meal that can last all night with courses of vegetables, meats and little bits of dough shaped like anything from Hello Kitty to baseballs bubble and bounce in the simmering broth, a never-ending feast. Tell children to breathe slow and deep, so the orange stays on their tummy while they rest.
Use the left palm to “scrub” the bottom of right foot (the dirty dishes!); change legs and repeat.
They may watch the orange rise up and down with their breath, or they may close their eyes and rest.
To wash the floor, stand in Wide-legged Standing Forward Fold and use hands to wash the floor in circular motions.

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