What does a scavenger hunt have to do with yoga? Prathyahara is the practice of withdrawing from the senses. We think of food as that which we put into our mouths and chew in order to sustain ourselves. We eat in other ways, too. The information we take in through our senses—what we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we touch, and where we find ourselves in space in relation to gravity, is–like food–converted into energy and waste. The colors (frequency waves of photons), sounds (air waves created by pressure changes of matter moving through space and received by hearing apparatus), scents (chemicals that lodge into our olfactory receptors), temperatures, pressures and textures (as measured by thermoreceptors, baroreceptors, and proprioceptive receptors of the skin), and the play of gravity and our musculoskeleture rooting and rebounding toward equilibrium are all sensory experiences that build us. What we sense becomes who we are.
Lately, I have found myself watching a bit more Netflix than I would normally. The auditory inputs I experience come from outside my windows or within my home. More and more the sensory experiences of my day seem to de-versify. In this atmosphere, we are hungry for an array of sensory experiences that are outside of the Self. A sensory based scavenger hunt situated in nature provides us with the opportunity to tune our senses toward entities beyond our daily spheres and fill each to the brim with precise and wonderous observations of normal yet often overlooked occurrences.
Just as one who has been eating junk food might first detox before beginning a new regimen of health-wise nourishment, we as yogis may begin our scavenger hunt with a practice of Prathyahara.
Sit on the floor, close your eyes, and breathe deeply through the nose expanding your belly three times; notice the sounds outside the house, before turning to discern the sounds inside the room. Again, breathing deeply three times, notice the sounds inside the room, before turning to discern the sounds made by your own body. Subsequently, again breathe deeply three times noticing the sounds your body makes externally, and then while plugging your ears, notice the sounds of your body internally.
Taking a moment to acknowledge the motions outside of ourselves then drawing our attention to within, methodologically reduces the variety of erratic inputs our brain must decipher and primes us to begin absorbing new sensory information, consciously and intentionally.
Walking and wending through your neighborhood or local park, attempt to complete the scavenger hunt chart together with your children.
SIGHT & OBSERVE
Click the images below to make the charts full sized, then print them out if that option is available to you. Otherwise, simply save the pictures to your device.
Seek out each object or being represented in the squares. No need to gather and collect here—this hunt challenges your abilities to stealthily sight and keenly observe the characteristics and movements around you.
Draw a symbol in the circle shape located within each square once you’ve seen and observed the contents.
After you’ve found each item in the hunt, work together to answer the observation questions.
Variation: Choose different colored pencils to represent which team member spotted which items first (idea borrowed from Jacquie Fisher of EDiscovery.com).
A mammal is an animal that has hair or fur, feeds its young with milk produced from the mammary glands of the female/mother body, has a hinged jaw and three small middle ear bones.
About the Author:
Megan Rynne has a background in farm and nature-based education and taught environmental science to children and adults on working farms and nature conservation sites throughout New England. Having recently completed a MA in Early Childhood Education from Shepherd University of West Virginia, with a focus on the Montessori Method and Neuropedagogy, Megan joins Breathing Space new to the field of children’s yoga. Megan has completed 60 hours of combined training from Budding Yogis of Circle Yoga (DC) and Childlight Yoga (NH) including the Teaching Yoga to Kids with Special Needs and postnatal practice trainings. Megan embarks upon a yearlong 200 hr YTT this January and looks forward to supporting her children’s training with a sound background in yoga philosophy and adult practice. Megan is originally from Boston, MA and lives with her fiance in Washington, DC. She enjoys walking, books about cognitive neuroscience and Appalachia, Ayurveda, camping and fire stories, and the “Be Present” requirement that working with children affords.