How to do sandwich pose
Find a safe and comfortable space for you and your child to sit opposite each other, with your legs outstretched.
Allow your legs to extend straight out in front of you, but keep your knees ‘soft’. Grown-ups, you may even want to keep your knees a little bent, if this is more comfortable for you*.
Imagine that your legs are the ‘bread’ of a sandwich.
Think about what to put into your sandwich. Guide your child to think about healthy food choices and remind them that we don’t want to put anything into our sandwich that might make us feel ill.
Collect each ingredient by reaching your arms up high at first (to reach tomatoes from a high shelf for example). You might reach across your body to open a cupboard containing avocados, or the fridge to take out your butter.
Add each ‘ingredient’ one at a time from the top of your thighs, down to your toes. Remember to keep reaching towards your toes (just as far as you can), then back up for each new ingredient. Make sound effects for whatever you add. Different ingredients can be added in different ways, with different noises:
spread the ‘butter’ with your hands
‘splodge’ on some peanut butter
‘slap’ on your swiss cheese
place on some pickles
‘chop’ up some tomatoes (use your hands like a knife to gently ‘chop’ your legs)
Encourage older children to breathe in as they stretch upwards and breathe out as they fold over towards their toes.
Once you have all the ingredients in your sandwich, you can start to eat it! Stretch all the way towards your toes, then move slowly back towards your tummy, eating your sandwich as you go. Make chomping and chewing noises as you go. If you have made a large sandwich, this may take quite a few bites.
*Never ‘force’ a movement or position and if you have any issues with your back, consult your doctor before trying this pose.
The benefits of sandwich pose
Progress speech & language skills, boosting confidence
Children become more confident, practicing and developing their speech and language skills by stating out loud which ingredients they choose and making sound effects while adding these. Repetitive sounds, echoing speech and making noises in combination with movements in sandwich activity are a great way to develop speech and language.
speechbuddy.com explains why this kind of activity, along with music and nursery rhymes contribute towards a child’s speech development:
“The repetitive nature… helps children learn words, specific sounds and basic parts of speech. Putting words to music breaks them down into syllables, emphasizes key consonants and slows down the sounds of speech. And… they gain a better understanding of how the rules of language operate and build predictability.”
Develop imagination & creativity
Sandwich pose is a wonderful way for children to use their imagination and develop their creativity (a crucial life skill). Unusual (yet edible!) ingredients are encouraged, especially when accompanied by fun sound effects:
Spring onions ‘boing, boing!’
Cress ‘sprinkle, sprinkle’
Banana ‘chop, chop’ or ‘mash, mash’
Raspberries (make a raspberry noise with your tongue)
Hot halloumi cheese (blow on your legs as you add this to cool it down, then wave and say “halloo, me!”)
Some other examples from our classes include:
Salmon and Nutella
Magic, invisible sprinkles (apparently you find them behind your ears)
Increases awareness of the body’s ‘midline’
As your child reaches their arms across their body to gather their sandwich ‘ingredients’, they will be increasing their awareness of the midline of their body. Sandwich pose can therefore help your child with their dressing skills, as zips and buttons tend to be placed in the middle of clothing.
“Crossing the midline with trunk rotation helps build core strength that will improve stability in a child’s movement. Additionally, children who cross the midline with their dominant hand will build more strength and fine motor skills in that hand…” – clel.org
Stretches spine, shoulders & hamstrings
Sandwich pose provides a fun incentive for children to move and gently stretch out their spine, shoulders and hamstrings (the tendons at the back of our legs). Stretching increases blood flow to muscles, improving flexibility and range of motion. Stretching (particularly hamstrings) can be a huge help with counteracting growth spurt tightness.
If your child has just had a growth spurt, their hamstrings may feel very tight. This is natural, as their muscles and tendons will need time and gentle stretching to lengthen and ‘catch up’ to the new, longer bone length. In this instance, encourage your child to allow their knees to bend a little so that they are comfortable in their movements. Once they are well past their growth spurt, they will be able to stretch out their legs fully once more.
Stretching the spine is important because, as yoga master Erich Schiffmann states, during forward bends:
“The spine… is taught to lengthen, increasing the space and circulation between the vertebrae. This is important because the spine is the ‘freeway’ to your brain, or the freeway from your brain to the entire body. The freer it is, the less congested, the better.”
Encourages healthy eating choices
Thinking carefully about what we choose to put into our sandwiches is a great way to discuss and encourage healthy eating choices with our children. With older children we can talk about the major food groups and what kind of ‘fuel’ our bodies need in order to work properly. We might talk about how sugar is bad for our teeth, but that eggs can help our muscles to grow and eating a range of vegetables will give our bodies plenty of vitamins and minerals which help us to stay healthy.
Sandwich pose options & ideas
With younger children you might like to suggest sandwich ingredients and keep to just a few, or give them an option of two: ‘peanut butter or cream cheese?’ ‘avocado or lettuce?’ ‘butter or mayo?’.
Try chomping loudly together, then more softly.
Ask your child to suggest a sound and movement of their own for adding each of their chosen ingredients.
Older children can work together to make suggestions as a group, with family or friends – great practice for co-operation and compromise skills.
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