Bring the circus alive by acting out performers’ tricks with this circus yoga sequence for kids.
I’ve never been entirely sure how I feel about animals being in a circus, so when I found out about a traveling circus put on by teenagers without animals, I couldn’t wait to take my daughter! And as I expected, she was entranced by the lights, music, and the incredible performances of the young people. She watched in awe as the performers did amazing tricks like juggling, walking on tight ropes, and riding unicycles.
Afterwards, we talked about how the performers had to become experts in balance, flexibility, strength, teamwork, bravery, and focus. They would no doubt use the power of their breath to help them focus on their tricks and keep them in the present moment, without being distracted by the audience. The circus was beyond awe-inspiring, and we’re still talking about it weeks afterwards.
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6 Circus Books for Kids
Once I had initially purchased our circus tickets, we headed to the library to find circus books. Here are a few of our favorite circus books:
by Peter Spier
Children will enjoy looking at the small detailed illustrations that make Peter Spier’s books so special. This book follows a day in the life of a circus performance from setup to teardown. Ages 3+
Fabulous Flying Fandinis
by Ingrid Slyder
Bobby visits his new neighbors, who welcome him into their house that has been converted into a circus, complete with trapeze swings and exotic animals. Ages 3+
by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes
This wordless book portrays how the everyday activities of people on the street are similar to the stunts of a circus performance. Ages 5+
by Hannah E. Harrison
This story for young children follows a little dog, living with the circus animals, who finds that her own ordinary-ness is uniquely extraordinary. Ages 3+
Miss Bindergarten Plans a Circus with Kindergarten
by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff
This charming book is about an animal classroom that is planning a circus performance. Young children will enjoy the colorful illustrations and engaging rhyming text. Ages 3+
You See A Circus, I See…
by Mike Downs and Anik McGory
This story is from the perspective of a little boy living a circus life. It’s a great book to inspire discussion about how the perspective of a performer is different from a spectator’s. Ages 4+
Do you have any other favorite circus books for kids? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
5 Circus Yoga Poses for Kids
To bring the circus alive at home, in your studio, or in your classroom, try these five circus-inspired yoga poses for children. Then, perhaps your yogis can invent new yoga poses mimicking circus performers that they have seen themselves, read about in circus books, or made up in their imaginations. These five yoga postures are sequenced to invite flow from one pose to the next:
1. TREE POSE – Pretend to be balancing on a tight rope.
How to practice Tree Pose: Stand on one leg. Bend the knee of the leg you are not standing on, place the sole of your foot on the opposite inner thigh or calf, and balance. Pretend to be balancing on a tight rope. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
2. HORSE STANCE – Pretend to be lifting heavy weights.
How to practice Horse Stance: Stand with your legs apart, feet facing slightly outward. Bend your knees and stand firm as if you’re lifting a heavy weight above your head. Or you could pretend that you have another circus performer standing on your shoulders.
3. LUNGE – Pretend to be doing the splits.
How to practice Lunge Pose: From Horse Stance, come to a standing position. Then, on an exhale, do a swan dive to a Standing Forward Bend. Place your palms flat on the ground. Inhale, and on an exhale, step your right foot back into a lunge, bending deeply into your front left knee while ensuring that your knee is aligned above your ankle. Keep a flat back and open your chest. Pretend to be warming up to do the splits. You could certainly do the splits if that’s available to you. Switch sides and repeat the steps.
4. DOWNWARD-FACING DOG POSE – Pretend to be getting ready to do a handstand.
How to practice Dwonward-Facing Dog Pose: Step back to your hands and feet in an upside-down V shape, with your buttocks up in the air. Check that your palms are flat on the ground and that your fingers are spread out evenly. Stay here or take baby steps forward to bring your torso right over your arms in preparation for a handstand. Again, you could do a full handstand if you’re able.
5. LOCUST POSE – Pretend to be a trapeze reaching for the next swing.
How to practice Locust Pose: Come to lie on your tummy, lift your chest and shoulders, and look up. Pretend you are a trapeze performer flying from one swing to another. You could also extend up into a full Bow Pose.
Can you invent other circus yoga poses? Maybe you could juggle (Mountain Pose variation) or ride on a unicycle (Knees to chest pose with bicycle legs) or do a backbend (Wheel Pose)? We saw all of these amazing stunts:
- walking on tight ropes
- lifting heavy weights
- riding unicycles
- balancing on stilts
- leaping from swing to swing
- wiggling in hula hoops
If it’s appropriate, have the children play around with making up new circus poses and have them share with each other. Make the experience relevant and meaningful to them.
My daughter and I look forward to next year when we can once again catch the opportunity to see hard-working, brave circus performers show us the power of the human body!