Guest post from Tiffany Conary
DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES OF EURYTHMY
We always hear the phrase, thinking-feeling-willing. This seems to be the pattern in all things Waldorf. Again, this applies to Eurythmy as well… except, it works backwards through each developmental stage!
From birth to age 6 (or the 6yo change), we focus on WILLING. Babies do it naturally by WILLING their little bodies to move. They are trying to get their arms and legs to move when they need them to. As they get older, they learn to jump, run, snap, all things that require coordination and skill. Because of this, their focus is very inward; therefore, their imagination is strong and realistic to them. As they play, for example, fairies and knights, they aren’t just creating an imaginative world, they ARE the fairies and knights.
From 7 to roughly 11 years, we shift our focus to FEELING. They realize they are full of feelings and emotions and through Eurythmy exercises, they learn how to control them and deal with them. They learn that their identities are separate from nature. Their imaginations start reaching out of themselves. They reenact scenes they have seen/heard (and can do so with toys). Now when they play fairies and knights, they are doing so with toys or puppets, or retelling a story in some other way. As they get more towards 11 years of age, their imaginations are much bigger and open and their coordination vastly improves.
From 12 years through high school, we start to focus on THINKING. They now learn that they can affect their environment and relationships around them. They can start imagining in “time.” For example, if a teacher is telling a story and doing motions, if she jumps over a river, they jump over the river AS the teacher jumps instead of waiting to get to that spot (like they would when they are younger). They can think bigger; the sky, the universe; and can remove themselves from it (THINKING again). Each child is on their own path. They no longer exist as a group.
So let’s give their bodies something to do! One small first step you can take, is starting with some basic copper rod exercises. These activities have been proven fun! These rods are 2-3 feet long. “Why copper?” you ask. Copper is a good conductor of energy as well as oxygen. Whatever the rod absorbs from your hand, it will transfer and give it right back! And, the moment you pick up a copper rod, it adjusts to the warmth of your hand. The copper color, that warm red-brown, is also very calming. If you do not have a copper rod then you can use a baton or PVC pipe until you can obtain one.
“Qui” – Hold the rod with just your fingers in both hands out in front of your chest, palms down. Now lift one finger off the rod at a time starting with your pointer finger, working your way to your pinky. Then work your way back, starting with your pinky back to your pointer. You can also do this with one finger touching the rod (w/ the thumb) at a time; also both these with palm facing up!
Squirmy Wormy – Hold the rod vertical in your hand. Then climb the rod with your fingers until you reach the top. Then climb your way back down. Repeat for the other hand. Again, you can do this to song.
Rod Balancing – Keep the rod horizontal and balance it on your head, your hand, or your foot with the heel on the ground. The next step is while balancing the rod on your head, drop it into your hands held out in front of you. Then drop it into your hands held behind your back.
Rod Rolling – With your arms held straight out in front of you, roll the rod from your hands (palms facing up) to your neck and back. Do this while singing “Row, row, row, your boat” or some other appropriate song or verse. The next step is done while sitting on the floor, roll the rod on your legs from feet to hips.
Making Soup – Hold the rod vertical in your hand. Focus on the bottom of the rod. Make a circle motion as if you are stirring. Ask your child what kind of soup they are making and what ingredients will go into it. Now it is getting hot in the kitchen and we must turn on the fans. Now, focus on the top end of the rod and make big circular motions. Make them as big as you can to cool down the kitchen! Then switch hands and work the other side.
Now we are done and put the spoons back on the shelf (balance the rod on their heads).
(Up Next: The Willing Stage. A more in depth look, plus some Eurythmy exercises that we can do with this stage.)