Category Archives: Yoga

Health Benefits of Summer Camps

Kid’s today face daily stresses on the mind and body. Summer camps are a great way for kids to unplug from technology, reduce stress and enhance physical and mental health. Way to go summer camps!

Here are some of the recognized benefits that our yoga + mindfulness summer camps can provide your child:

  • Boosts Brain Power! Science tells us yoga and mindfulness can promote healthy brain development and boost resilience.
  • Builds Life Skills. Yoga and mindfulness helps children learn self-control, kindness, gratitude, patience, and other important life skills.
  • Cultivates Learning. Children need to move to learn. Cross-lateral movements integrate both sides of the brain, which enhances learning.
  • Reduces Stress. Mindfulness teaches kids to be less reactive to daily stressors. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is quick way to calm the nervous system. The best part is kids can do it anytime and anywhere.
  • Promotes Strength and Flexibility. All of your child’s bodily systems are supported by movement. Yoga strengthens and stretches your child’s entire body.
  • Inspires Happiness. Research tells us a consistent yoga and mindfulness practice produces GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that plays in an important part in your child’s mental health. Increased GABA leads to feelings of relaxation and happiness. Yay GABA!

This blog focuses on the benefits of our Mindful Child camps, but camps, in general, are a wonderful way to promote health and reduce screen time. Regardless of the camp you choose, most summer camps have many character building experiences and offer exercises that build confidence and self-esteem. They are also a great way to explore different hobbies without a long term commitment.

Release Feelings of Well-Being With Fish Pose

What is Fish Pose?

Fish Pose is a graceful, but powerful back bend.  The gentle bend of the chest mimics the rounded back of a fish. Fish Pose can give relief to symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.  Young children or children with special needs may find fish pose challenging to get into, but it can be easily modified by having them lay on a small child bolster, rolled up mat, or blanket to provide the same benefits.

What are the benefits?

The opening of the chest, opens the heart releasing feelings of positivity and well-being. Fish pose reduces chest disorders and promotes a healthy heart. This pose can stimulate the thyroid, which increases metabolism.

What to Say.

We are going to be a fish! Lay on your back. Bring your knees into your heart center. Straighten your legs and glue them together. Slide your hands under your tail. Bring them close together with palms facing down. As you breathe in, push your elbows down. Point toes. Come onto the crown of your head. You are a fish! Take five deep breaths. Slowly release to the floor. Hug your hands around the knees or under the knees, bring them into the heart center. Rock and roll a few times side to side. Ah…feels good!

Want to learn more ways to help children be mindful?  Sign up for  Mindful Child Teacher Training or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Reference

Daniel, T., Mindfulness for Children. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2018

Mudras: Yoga for Little Hands

Mudras help children focus, relax, and balance.

Mudras (pronounced “moo-drah) are practiced in many places all over the world.  These hand positions are usually practiced with yoga, breathing, relaxation, or meditation, but what is amazing about mudras is they can be practiced anywhere and anytime.

WHAT IS A MUDRA?

Hand symbols or mudras are yoga for your hands. A mudra is a symbol your child makes with their hands and fingers that is believed to seal the energy in the body.  Research shows us that mudras engage certain areas in the brain, creating a brain-body connection.  Different areas of the hands are connected with different areas in the brain and body. When children place their hands in different hand positions or mudras it can activate a certain state of mind.  Therefore, mudras can positively affect how your child feels.  Mudras energize, focus, or calm the body, which make them a great tool for children to help regulate how they are feeling.

WAYS TO PRACTICE  MUDRAS WITH KIDS

The ways to use mudras are limitless. Mudras can be incorporated into yoga poses, breathing exercises, or relaxation.  Instead of electronics, have your children unplug and unwind by practicing mudras. Once they know they  how to do mudras and the benefits they can start to integrate them into their daily lives such as doing a focus mudra under their desk before a test.  Or if they are having a rough day they can do a relaxing mudra to help them chill out.

WHAT DOES A MUDRA LOOK LIKE?

One of my personal favorites is Namaste Hands.  Namaste Hands is simply bringing the palms of the hands together at midline (center of the body).  This mudra is grounding and integrates both sides of the brain. Namaste Hands help with balance and focus.  Holding the hands at heart center when balancing in tree or airplane helps children to balance and is easier than reaching the arms above the head.  It can also be done as a greeting or gesture to begin and end a yoga class. This is also a popular meditating hand position.

Teaching mudras to children helps them to feel empowered, by giving them a simple therapeutic tool they can use in times of stress. Practice them often so instill peace and happiness in your child.

Body Sox, Odd Looking, But Fun and Self-Regulating

Body Sox is an yoga experience like no other. Children love to stretch in it as many ways as possible. There are multiple ways to use the Body Sox from games to relaxation.

WHAT IS IT?

Body Sox are fun, therapeutic sacks constructed from four-way stretch lycra.  Body Sox teach both adults and children about gross motor control by providing proprioceptive feedback that leads to a new awareness of the body.

BODY SOX BENEFITS

  • Allows children to kinesthetically feel their body
  • Coordinates movement
  • Enhances creativity and imagination
  • Provides heavy work/deep pressure, which is calming and organizing
  • Provides tactile input

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOGA?

Children can play  Yogi Says,  which is just like  Simon Says, but with yoga poses.   Better yet, let them create their own Body Sox pose, crawl, walk, or slither in it.

Body Sox can also be used in relaxation as a calming sensory escape. Put on relaxing music and/or weighted materials to enhance the experience.

What are you waiting for?  Sign-up for a class and try one out!

Yoga for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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“When you don’t go within, you go without. ”  – Yogi Bhajan

Science is beginning to prove that Eastern methods of healing such as meditation and yoga are valid ways to address psychological conditions.  Research suggests that breathing exercises and yoga postures can be individualized to address psychological disorders.  Different types of yoga help different disorders.  For example, kundalini yoga has been found to reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (Shannahoff-Khalsa 2006; Shannahoff-Khalsa & Beckett, 1996). Not sure what a kundalini yoga practice entails?  Check out my earlier blog entitled, “What is Kundalini?”

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

Mantras are an important element of kundalini yoga techniques.  Yoga philosophy asserts that in the upper palate of the mouth reside 84 meridian points that interact with the tongue when sound is uttered.  When a mantra is repeated the tongue stimulates the points of the upper palate in a certain sequence.  The repeated sequential sequence is transmitted to higher brain centers through the hypothalamus and thalamus, which affects the psyche.

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?

In a study using an 11-part kundalini yoga protocol the  obsessive-compulsive disorder subjects who participated in yoga showed significant improvements when compared to the control group (Shannahoff-Khalsa, 1997; Shannahoff-Khalsa et al., 1999). The yoga group demonstrated a 62% improvement in mood, whereas the control group declined 2%.  Additionally, the kundalini group had a 48% reduction in stress levels.  Researchers hypothesized that the retention in participants for this year long study came from the rapid relief felt from participating in kundalini yoga therapy.

REFERENCES

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (1997). Yogic techniques are effective in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorders. In E. Hollander & D. Stein (Eds.), Obsessive– compulsive disorders: Diagnosis, etiology, and treatment (pp. 283–329). New York, NY: Marcel Dekker.

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (2006). Kundalini yoga meditation: Techniques specific for psy- chiatric disorders, couples therapy, and personal growth. New York, NY: Norton.

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D., & Beckett, L. R. (1996). Clinical case report: Efficacy of yogic techniques in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorders. The International Journal of Neuroscience, 85, 1–17. doi:10.3109/00207459608986347

The ABC’s of Yoga

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The ABC’s of Yoga for Kids is one of my favorite yoga books to use with children, including children with special needs such as ADHD and autism.  Children with special needs require simplicity and visual support.  This book has both.  Each letter of the alphabet is a different yoga pose.  Children are not only learning yoga, but their letters as well. The children love the colorful pictures and rhymes that describe how to get into each pose.  It takes approximately an hour to read the book if each pose is practiced.  I break it up into three sessions. It’s best to find proper alignment and hold the pose instead of rushing through them.

The benefits of yoga for children include:  balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength.  Additionally,  yoga promotes calmness and relieves stress. This books offers a multitude of wellness and mental health benefits and best of all it’s fun!

The ABCs of Yoga for Kids can be ordered online through Amazon.  Ready? Find your center, breathe, and soar.

Reference

Power, T. A., & Rietz, K. (2009). The ABCs of yoga for kids. Pacific Palisades, CA: Stafford House.

Tree Pose For Improved Focus

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Tree pose is a fun and easy pose to build focus in adults and children. The ancient yogis believe if you can hold tree pose with ease it reflects a balanced emotional state.  Hmm…probably better practice this pose with your little yogi.

BENEFITS

  • Enhances focus and concentration
  • Improves balance and posture
  • Increases flexibility of ankles, knees, and hip joints
  • Enhances mobility of knees and hips

WHAT TO SAY

Begin in Mountain pose. Plant all four corners of the right foot into the mat. Externally rotate the left leg out placing the ball of the foot on the ground and the left heel on the right ankle. Bring hands together at heart center. Find a focal point and then grow your branches to the sky. Challenge yourself by looking up or closing your eyes.

FUN VARIATION

Find a partner. Stand side-by-side wrapping one arm around your partner’s shoulders. Externally rotate the outer leg to form tree pose. Have a contest by having children hop with their partners from one side of the yoga studio to the other. Ready? Go.

Child’s Pose Press

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Child’s Pose Press is one of my favorite yoga techniques. It is very calming and helps to center children when they are having a bad day. Best of all it can be done anywhere.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

  • Calms the nervous system
  • Relieves stress
  • Eases back strain
  • Centers the child
  • Reduces excess energy

HOW DOES IT WORK?

At the base of the spine just above the sacrum, there is an area where several nerve endings come together. When you apply gentle pressure to this area it has a calming affect on the nervous system.

HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Have the child go into child’s pose. Sit behind him and firmly run your hands up and down his back from top to bottom. This will stretch and open up the vertebrae in the spine. Rest your hands one on top of the other at the base of his back. Breathe in together and as you exhale press into this area with your hands. As you apply pressure, also pull back energetically. Breathe with him for five breathes. If the child is upset this can be extended. While breathing visualize calm positive energy coming out of your hands. Draw the hands firmly up and down the back one more time then release them from the child’s back. Resume your yoga routine. This can be done several times if the child is having a bad day or displays excess energy.  If you are not trained in yoga it is best to seek a yoga professional and receive hands-on training before attempting this at home.  Namaste.

The Healing Power of Hot Yoga

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What is hot yoga?

Hot yoga is yoga performed in a heated room. There are typically two hatha styles associated with hot yoga. One is a flowing series, Vinyasa, and the other is a series of static postures, Bikram.

How is hot yoga healing?

There are multiple healing benefits to practicing hot yoga. As a long distance runner I can attest first hand to the many benefits of hot yoga; however, for this post I’ll just review the top three.

  1.  Injury reduction. In Western society we spend way too much time doing exercises that tighten our muscles such as running or cycling. The heated environment relaxes the muscles, which prepares our body for stretching. As muscles and joints warm, they release, lessening resistance to movement.
  2. Detox. When the body becomes warm, blood flow is increased, which speeds up the metabolic processes of vital organs helping release toxins. Sweat, not only cools us down, but it clears the body of internal toxins.
  3. Strengthens immune system. The body responds to the heat by producing white blood cells, which, in turn, boosts the immune system; aiding in relaxation; and quicker healing of connective tissue injuries and circulatory disease symptoms.

Where can I try hot yoga?

There are multiple studios in the Kansas City area that offer hot yoga. Luckily, I teach both.  EZ hot yoga is an introductory hot yoga class that is heated to 95 degrees. There is limited flowing with an emphasis on holding poses, similar to the Bikram series. I also teach an intermediate class, Hot Vinyasa.   My classes are offered at Exhale Yoga KC in Leawood, Kansas. Come see me! Not hot enough; try a Bikram class, which is heated to 105 degrees. Hot yoga is great cross training.  Additionally, it can provide a much needed refuge from the winter chill; leaving you feeling calm and detoxed.

Reference

Barnett, M. (2003). Hot Yoga. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc: Hauppauge, NY

 

 

 

Lets Get Physical Fundraiser!

HeavyTreadmillJoin us tomorrow , December 6th, for an 80’s fundraiser! This awesome event will  feature a glow in the dark yoga sequence, silent auction, refreshments, and a photo booth. The totally rad party will take place at Radiant Yoga + Wellness at 6:00 P.M.  Please come at least 15 minutes early to check-in.  The cost is $35.00 per person with all proceeds benefitting Team Healthy Kids. What are you waiting for?  Lets Get Physical for a good cause!

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children