Deserts are the driest places on Earth. Many deserts were formed 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Some are super hot in the day and they can get cold at night. Deserts can be huge spaces. It may seem like nothing can live in a desert because it is so dry. But most deserts are full of life, with plants and animals that have adapted to survive without much water. Most desert animals stay underground or beneath shady rocks during the day. Many of them come out to hunt for food at night, when it’s cool. Now it is time to explore deserts. Let’s pack some water, sunscreen and protective clothing!
Before we begin doing yoga, we can sing a warm-up song and dance. Let’s sing “I Love the Hot Desert” song together!
The blazing sunshine, Hot, hot, it’s so hot. Shimmering sand, Hot, hot, in desert! I love the hot desert. I love hot sunshine. I am bumpy camel With a huge hump. Big enough to keep my fat, Full of nutrients. Here I am, the Camel, The humpy camel. I love the hot desert. I love hot sunshine. I am Meerkat, Staying alert all day. Look at my curved claws To dig the ground for me. Here I am, the Meerkat, The cautious Meerkat. Hot, hot, it’s so hot. Hot, hot, in desert! I love the hot desert. I love hot sunshine. I am Scorpion With a pair of claws. Watch out for my stinger At the end of my tail. Here I am, the Scorpion, The scary Scorpion. I love the hot desert. I love hot sunshine. I am Fennec Fox With large ears. Sleeping in my den by day, Catching prey by night. Here I am, the Fennec Fox, The cute Fennec Fox. The blazing sunshine, Hot, hot, it’s so hot. Shimmering sand, Hot, hot, in desert!
Desert Animals Yoga
Addax (Cow: On all fours, round your back up and then down) is a critically endangered species of antelope found in the Sahara Desert. It is thought that there may be fewer than 90 adult addax left in the wild. This desert animal may soon be extinct in the wild.
Antelope Jackrabbit (Hare: Coming to our knees we lean forward a little then cross our hands behind our back. As we fold all the way forward our arms lift up to the sky like very long hare ears) can be identified by its large size, very long pointed ears. It is found in deserts and other dry habitats. It is one of the largest North American hares.
Arabian Sand Gazelle (Deer: Sitting tall, legs out long, we bend one knee up. We hug that knee, then placing our hand behind us, bring our other elbow round to the outside of the knee, looking back over our shoulder) is a small antelope. The end of its horns curve inwards. The Arabian sand gazelle was once found throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The main threats to the species are illegal hunting and habitat loss.
Camel spiders (Spider: Standing with your legs as wide as your shoulders, bend your knees to place your hands inside your feet. Walk your fingers around the back of your feet, like tickly spiders until they are on the outside of your feet, crouching down, resting your legs over your arms like a spider) can be identified by their large, powerful mouth parts. Unlike their fellow spiders, camel spiders are unable to produce silk and do not spin webs.
Desert Iguana (Lizard: Coming high onto your knees, step one foot forward so you are on one knee. Place both your hands down inside of your front foot and step or wiggle your back leg out straight behind you. Come down onto your elbows if you fancy having a closer look at the floor) is active during the day even in high temperatures. If disturbed, it will quickly retreat into a burrow or other shelter. It is one of the most commonly encountered lizards in the deserts.
Desert Tortoise (Turtle: Sitting up with your legs out wide, bend your knees a little and slip your hands underneath your legs, flattening your body down towards the floor) is rarely encountered. It spends up to 95% of its time in burrows or hidden in rock shelters. It digs its own burrows and will hibernate underground during the winter.
Dromedary (Camel: Kneeling, we put our hands round to our lower back and press our bottom forwards, lifting our hearts to the sky, looking up) has many adaptations for living in the desert. These include bushy eyebrows, double-layered eyelashes, and nostrils that can close up completely, all of which provide protection from sand and storms. It is able to go long periods of time without drinking. It stores both water and energy – in the form of body fat – in its hump.
Fennec Fox (Dog: We press our feet and hands into the floor as we lift our bottoms to the sky) is the smallest member of the dog family. It is known for its distinctive long ears. Its ears serve a dual purpose; not only do they provide extra sensitive hearing but they also help to keep the fox cool. A thick layer of fur on the fennec fox’s paws provide grip and protection from the hot sand.
Jerboas (Mouse: We kneel down and tuck ourselves into a little tiny ball, like a mouse) are hopping desert rodents found throughout Arabia, Northern Africa and Asia. They tend to live in hot deserts. They have several adaptations for living in the desert. These include a sandy colored coat that provides camouflage, and a burrowing lifestyle.
Lappet-Faced Vulture (Bird: Standing up, bend forward from your middle, keeping your back long and straight. Your arms become wide wings floating up and down at your sides as you fly like a bird) is a large bird of prey found in Africa and the Middle East. Using its huge bill, the vulture can tear apart even though skin, tendons and bone. It is a living tin-opener.
Meerkat (Squirrel/Kneeling: Stand on your knees, open your chest, reach up to the moon) is a mammal found in desert and other dry habitats, including savannah and grassland. It is known for its highly social behavior and distinctive upright stance. They live in groups that can contain up to 50 individuals. They are active during the day and spends the nights in large burrows.
Onager (Horse: One knee down, one knee up. Lift and join your hands up high above your head) is found in Asia, where it inhabits deserts and other dry, open habitats. It is one of the world’s fastest mammals.
Sand Cat (Cat: On all fours, round your back up) is a rarely seen desert cat found in northern Africa and the Middle East. It is smaller than a domestic cat and has pale, sandy colored hair, which is often marked with darker spots or stripes.
Sidewinder (Snake: Coming onto our tummy, we place our hands underneath our shoulders. We wiggle up into a snake) is a species of rattlesnake that inhabits desert regions in California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Although the snake’s head points in the direction of travel, its body appears to be moving sideways. It is venomous. Its bite is extremely painful but rarely life-threatening.
Please lie down comfortably in such a way that your body can really relax. With your legs stretched out in front of you, your arms relaxed by your sides… If you like, you can close your eyes. Now, imagine that you are lying on the warm sands of a desert. Feel its softness. As you are lying here, slowly become aware of your body. Which part of your body does immediately attract your attention? What do you notice there? Perhaps you like to adjust your position. If so, you can do that. Surrender to gravity. Your head, neck and your back, your arms and your legs are lying here. Your whole body is lying here. When you are lying here like this, you may feel your gentle breath, in your chest and in your belly. Take your time to feel the movement of the breath in your body and stay with it for a while. You don’t have to do anything special, just give it your attention…
Then you can shift your attention from the breath to your feet, right foot and left foot, your toes, your ankles. You don’t have to move your feet to feel them. All you need to do is to take your attention to them. As you connect with your feet, you may also feel a cold or warm sensation. Or perhaps you don’t feel anything much at all. That’s fine, too. With your ankles, calves, and the rest of your lower legs, what strikes you about what you feel. How do your legs feel? Your knees, thighs… maybe some tension, or relief, fatigue, or ache… or maybe you are experiencing something completely different. You can simply accept everything you are experiencing. Observe it and accept it. It is possible that your mind is suddenly somewhere else on things you are planning to do. That is absolutely fine. It will happen often enough. But every time you do notice it, you can go back, back to where we are in the exercise. Just connect with your body without judging, expecting or demanding anything from your body. When you regularly connect with your body, you get to know, understand, appreciate it. Give your friendly, mindful attention to your body. And now you may choose to shift your attention from your legs to your pelvis. And from your pelvis to your belly… what can you say about your belly? You belly may feel hard or soft. It may be crampy. What do you notice at the moment? It is possible that you may not feel anything in your belly. Just give mindful attention to everything that you notice here. You may also sense the gentle movement of your breath in your belly. Your belly moving up a little and down a little… can you feel that?
Now shift your attention from your belly onto your chest area where your heart and lungs are. What do you notice here in this moment? What does your heart tell you? Your heart is a sensitive organ. Sensitive to love and pain… a place where you can be vulnerable and strong, powerful and gentle. Stay here for a while with friendly attention. When you are ready, you can shift your attention from the entire front of your body to the entire back. Feel your entire back calmly. From your tailbone up to your shoulders and neck… what does your back tell you? Maybe you are experiencing pain somewhere or something else. What do you notice? You just observe calmly.
And now from your back, you can move your attention to your shoulders and neck. What are your shoulders and neck telling you right now? And now start paying attention to your arms, hands and fingers. Maybe you are aware of some small sensations. Focus on your arms, hands and fingers calmly. And now connect with your face. You may become aware of your mouth, lips, nose, and all other parts of your face. What do you notice? You may have opinions about your face. If so, just observe them. Let go off all the thoughts and opinions about how your face and body should be. Allow your body to be just as it is. From the top of your head down to your toes, take your time to connect with your body. Give your friendly and mindful attention. When you are ready, you can slowly bring this exercise to a close. You may move your fingers and toes, hug your knees into your chest. Roll over onto your side. We press ourselves up to sit, crossing our legs. We bring our hands together at our heart. Namaste!
Apply the paint with a brush. Spread paint or plaster evenly over the child’s hand for full coverage. Guide your child’s hand to the paper, canvas or board. Gently press down on his or her hand to make sure you leave an actual handprint. Then, continue with your camel drawing.
You may still want to add a short yoga game at the end of the class if you still have time. Please check out the short yoga games list!