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!
Is your child is hooked on our amazing aerial yoga classes? Are they begging for their own hammock for home use? If so, this is the blog for you!
WHY BUY A HAMMOCK
Aerial yoga gives children the feeling of safe, weightless flight. Participation in an aerial yoga class has a wide range of benefits for children of all ages, such as cognitive, neurological, motor, and developmental.
There are multiple therapeutic and sensory benefits associated with aerial yoga. Children are having fun while strengthening their minds and bodies. Yoga in the aerial hammocks is a great tool to regulate the central nervous system, increase body awareness, and help children become aware of their own social and emotional needs so they can self-regulate their behavior.
WHAT TO BUY
Single Point Hammock. Mindful Child Aerial Yoga uses the single point instead of a double point hammock. The single point allows for lots of spinning and hours of fun and is better suited for the style of aerial yoga we practice in our classes.
Swivel. Rotational devices or Swivels are not necessary for Aerial Yoga Hammocks, but they do allow an additional spinning component to hammock use, and they also decrease the force placed on the attachment point.
Mindful Child Aerial Yoga uses swivels in our studio to allow versatility with hammock use, full movement in all planes, decreased twisting of hammock straps, smoothness with movement and extra fun! Most kids love how the swivel adds a sense of flow to movement in the hammock and allows a spinning component, but some kids can be overwhelmed by spinning, which can lead to nausea.
WHERE TO BUY
Not all hammocks are created equal and do not move the same. Dr. Tracy recommends buying hammocks from the Mindful Child Aerial Yoga website. Sorry, we are a little bit biased. We use Yogapeutic hammocks, which have been safety tested to 1300 pounds. These aerial hammocks are machine washable and can be in the dryer for 12 minutes, which is important if you want to kill viruses lurking on the material.
Or to buy a hammock on our website go to MindfulChildAerialYoga.com and click on “Services” a drop down menu will appear. Click on “Yoga Hammocks” and it will take you to our affiliate, Yogapeutics. We absolutely love our hammocks! They may be a little pricier, but they are worth it!
If you want to try another type of hammock Dr. Tracy has bought hammocks through aerial fabrics in the past. They are good hammocks, but require knots at the top, which can be tricky if you are not familiar with aerial equipment. This brand also needs to be washed and dried by hand so they require more work.
TheABC’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.
Power, T. A., & Rietz, K. (2009). The ABCs of yoga for kids. Pacific Palisades, CA: Stafford House.
Release the stress; just let it all out.” -MC Yogi
Some say yoga is breathing. Breathing is what sustains life so that makes it pretty important, right? Taking 9 deep inhalations will not only calm the parasympathetic nervous system, but supply oxygen to muscles and organs.
Babies fill their bellies with air completely every time they inhale and exhale, but somewhere along the way this calm, healing style is lost and shallow breathing is substituted. Shallow partial breathing can result in decreased focus, low energy, and heightened anxiety. Ugh! Lucky for us there is yoga.
Have children sit up tall in Easy Pose, lay down in Corspe Pose, or stand up tall in Mountain Pose. It may be helpful to have them breath while slumped forward at first. Then push the shoulders back and down, discussing the difference. Here are three of my favorite ways to teach breath control:
Use cool props. Children love props. My favorite prop is the hoberman sphere, which is pictured above. Not only does it glow in the dark, but it is also a great way to show children how the belly needs to fill with air on the inhale and be completely empty on the exhale. Turn off the lights and put on the Star Wars theme. Before you know it children will be using Ujjiya breath to sound like Darth Vader. KSSSSH KUHHH…
Play games. Have children start at the back of their mats. Give them a wide straw and have them blow a cotton ball to the front of their mats. After a couple practice rounds have a race. Remember to emphasize long inhalations and exhalations.
Use aromatherapy. Check for allergies before using this technique. Also, some children with special needs can be sensitive to essential oils so when in doubt go without. Name it something fun like “jungle juice” and spray it on their hands. Have them slowly lower their hands to their nose at the end of a jungle themed practice and breathe deeply 9 times. They will love it!
I teach breath control in every yoga session, but I do it in a fun way so children enjoy it. This is the only physiological system we have conscious control over so why not use it to be calm and happy?
Children love to slither on the floor and pretend to be snakes, but what parents do not realize is being a cobra has multiple benefits. Slithering around on the floor builds upper body strength and coordination. Exhaling out a “hisssss” releases tension and coordinates breath with movement.
Cobra is a great pose for all children, including those with developmental delays, ADHD, and autism. Cobra integrates the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex, which is a primitive reflex that has a role in development. This means it has an important therapeutic role. So by all means have snake races with your children! Not only are they fun, but it’s an aiding in their development.
Relieves stress, tension, and fatigue
Strengthens back and spine
Integrates primitive reflexes
Opens chest and lungs
HOW TO BE A COBRA
Lay on your belly with your legs together. Put your hands under shoulders and elevate your head and chest. Exhale out a “hisssss” then lower down to rest in the grass. Try it again. This time move your head from side to side as you hiss. Try it a third time. This time slither forward only using your hands and arms to move (works best on slippery flooring). Teach cobra to your friends and have a race!
Post your best cobra on Mindful Child Wellness Facebook page for a chance to win the pose of the month contest. Ready…
This is a great routine for children with sensory processing disorder.
Before starting the space adventure to the galaxy of calm. Have children put their mats in a circle. Start class with yoga rules, terms, and discussion of breathing through the nose.
Mountain Pose – Take a deep breath sweeping arms up as you inhale and slowly bring hands together at heart center while exhaling (Repeat x 3)
Climbing Space Ship Ladder. Cross crawls from Brain Gym – lift left leg and tap it with right hand. Now lift right leg and tap it with left hand. Cross crawls balance brain hemispheres and are great for neurological growth. If this is too difficult either help the child cross midline or have them tap right to right then left to left. Continue for 1 to 2 minutes.
Blast Off. Rev up the engine of the space ship – run in place and then sweep the arms wide while inhaling, as exhale bring the hands to the heart center and sit back in chair pose. Next, jump up as if blasting into outer space. Oh we didn’t quite make it – let’s rev our engines and try again. This time have children run to the back of their mats and then up to the front (Repeat x3)
Crescent Moon – We finally made it to outer space. Lets circle the moon. Inhale as lift the left hand toward the sky keeping right hand on thigh. Switch sides after 3 breaths.
Hello Mr. Sun (Sunshine stretch). Start in mountain or standing position, bend forward with arms hanging down. Shake head yes and no. Shaking the head relieves tension. Plant hands, take right foot back, then left foot for plank, pull elbows in and slowly lower to floor. Inhale as lie on belly with your hands on the floor under your shoulders. HISS on the exhale as you push up to cobra x3, tuck toes and push up to down dog, wag your tail, you’re a happy dog (Repeat entire stretch x3)
Space Suit – Bring hands overhead and interlace to make space helmet. Firmly plant right foot. Bring left foot up with knee bent. After finding balance have leg make figure 8’s in the air to insert it firmly in the space suit. Repeat on opposite leg.
Land on Saturn – Remain in standing position, plant feet with arms straight at sides twist from the waist to make Saturn’s rings.
Warrior II –The aliens are coming – Step back wide, with arms floating down to shoulder height, gaze out over front fingers, while keeping the front knee bent, make sure you can see your big toe.
Falling Stars (Moon flowers) Spread feet wide with toes out and heels in, as we come into a squat. On the inhale will shoot the stars (hands) up into space. On exhale, the stars (hands) will fall, draw elbows into ribs while in a squat. (10 breaths)
Warrior II – opposite side
Moon dust to hide from aliens (Sunflowers) Take a deep breath while sweeping arms up, slightly hinging while exhaling and moving arms toward the floor to pick up the space dust and throw it over our heads. (10 breaths)
Fold forward, step back to down dog, child’s pose – need a break to calm the nervous system after dealing with aliens, (5 breaths)
Star – Interlace hands on top of head elbows spread wide. Lets be a falling star, slowly bend forward.
Superman- lets fly through space with our rocket packs.
Rocket ship home – (camel) with palms of hands together to mimic a rocket ship.
Need to wash the space suit due to all the moon dust (Washer). Sit up tall in easy seated position, bend forward placing hands on the ground to put the suit in the washer, then place hands on shoulders and twist from waist with tail bone remaining planted. Make washer noises.
Dryer – Easy seated position , roll hands in front of chest and make drying noise.
Do a seated twist to squeeze out the remaining space dust.
Oh no! A meteor followed us home! Have children lay very still, eyes closed, on their stomachs, breathing deeply from the belly. Roll over children with exercise ball while slightly applying pressure. This provides proprioceptive input and is very calming. I play the “Star Wars” theme song during this time. Little boys love it!
Have class roll over to back for 1 minute and continue to breath deeply.
Wake up Sequence
Meteor roll –grab behind knees and gently rock side to side.
Space stretch – pull knees into chest, then let fall to right, hands stretched out wide in T position. Repeat on opposite side.
Cricket – rub hands and soles of feet together to wake up nerve endings. Have children place hands over their eyes to feel the good energy created.
Space Juice (sesame or jojoba oil, lavender, tea tree oil) – Ask about allergies. Lavender is calming to the central nervous system. Have children sit with legs crossed and palms of hands facing up. Squirt space juice in their hands and have them rub their hands together. When everyone has space juice have class take a deep breath together while sweeping hands up, exhale while slowly lowering hands in front of nose. Inhale several times before dropping hands to heart center and ending with the magic yoga words – Namaste.
Pranayama practice – with the lights off have the class lay on their backs. Give each child a hoberman sphere that glows in the dark. Have children practice making their bellies get big on the inhale as they pull the sphere outward. On the exhale have them shrink the sphere. Do this for several breaths. Next have the children put the sphere on their bellies and see how many breaths they can keep the sphere on before it rolls off.
Musical mats – place mats in circle, take one mat away. Place yoga cards in front of the mats. When the music plays have children dance and walk in a circle, when the music stops they must find a mat and complete the yoga pose on the card on both sides. The child who didn’t find a mat becomes the yoga assistant and starts the music for another round. One of my favorite songs to use is “Hip Hop Yoga Bop.”
Make rocket ships out of popsicle sticks, watermelon (in triangle at top), and bananas (at bottom). Kids love them and they are easy to clean up.
Teaching yoga to children with autism often requires visual props. Cariboo Yoga is a fantastic way to incorporate visual supports and take the child on a magical treasure hunt.
Cariboo Yoga for Children with Autism
Before starting the game, I read a simple social story that describes the rules and the number of breaths each pose will be held. (Unsure how to write a social story? Check out this article.)
I choose 15 poses that I want the child to learn.
The child must perform each pose for a specified number of breaths, starting with 5 and working up to 10 breaths.
I count the breaths out loud with each pose.
Before the child can unlock the door to see if a treasure ball is hidden inside, he or she must do the pose with me. While holding the yoga pose, I state the name of the pose several times so the name is associated with the pose. For example, if we are in down dog, I say statements such as “I’m a happy dog.” or Let’s wag our dog tails.”
I constantly repeat the name of the pose.
Once the child feels comfortable and knows the names of the poses you can slowly integrate flowing between poses and fade the game out.
This is a great way to not only build rapport, but strength, flexibility, and working memory. Put in a great sea faring playlist and have a good time. After all a pirate’s life is a happy life.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me!
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children