Tag Archives: Anxiety

Reduce Stress with Spaghetti Body

What is Spaghetti Body?

Spaghetti Body is a relaxation technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation . Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. In this activity, kids tense and relax muscles while pretending to be uncooked and cooked spaghetti.

What are the benefits?

Spaghetti Body teaches children how to relax their muscles when they are tight. Research shows progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and stress. Additionally, Spaghetti Body helps improve attention, mindful awareness, concentration, and self-concept.

How to practice Spaghetti Body at home:

  • Make you body straight and tight like a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Glue everything together and squeeze.
  • Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Your belly should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
  • Notice how you feel. This is what happens to your body when you are mad or nervous.
  • Imagine that your uncooked spaghetti noodle is being placed in a pan of hot water. The noodle is wet and it begins so soften.
  • Breathe in as you curl your toes in and scrunch your feet. Hold for one, two, three. Breathe out as you start to wiggle your toes and let your feet begin to soften just like a wet, warm, noodle. Wet noodles are relaxed and wiggly – not tight and stiff.
  • As you breath in tighten your legs. One, two, three. As you breathe out start to wiggle your legs and let them relax.
  • Take a deep breath in and make your hands into tight fists and your arms straight and tight. Hold for one, two, three, now let all the air out as you relax your fingers and arms into a wet wiggly noodle.
  • Take a deep breath in as you bring your shoulders up by your ears. Scrunch your shoulders. One, two, three. Breathe out as you let your shoulders begin to soften and relax down your back.
  • Close your eyes and scrunch up your entire face. Breathe in. One, two three, release your breath and let your face relax.
  • I like to squeeze a fresh lemon on cooked spaghetti noodles. If you would like lemon squeezed on your noodle raise your hand I will put a cotton ball with lemon essential oil in it.
  • Ta-da – you are a cooked spaghetti noodle! Scan your noodle to make sure all the tightness is gone. Let your body feel relaxed and calm. Breathe in and out through your nose slowly. Notice how you feel.

At Mindful Child, we like to pair Spaghetti Body with Spaghetti Pose, which is an activity from Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids, by Dr. Tracy. This adds extra benefits such as deep breathing, tactile discrimination, and flexibility.

If you’d like to learn more activities for home or the classroom sign up for the Mindful Child Teacher Training and become a kid’s yoga teacher!





Top Five Ways Aerial Yoga Decreases Children’s Anxiety

The combination of breathing, movement, and mindfulness is a powerful way to help your child de-stress.  Aerial yoga like all forms of movement moves emotions. The mind, movement, and breath are all connected to the relaxation response.  Children can reduce their anxiety through aerial yoga poses, breathing, and focus of the mind.

Here is some of the recognized benefits that aerial yoga at Mindful Child can provide for your child’s mental health.  Aerial Yoga:

  • Activates the quieting reflexes of the brain and nervous system. At the end of every mindful child aerial yoga class, children lay in fish pose. Fish pose provides sensory input in the form of tactile (touch), proprioception (deep pressure), and vestibular (movement), which, in turn, reduces stress and tension.
  • Encourages deep breathing. Using language that resonates with kids, incorporating the senses, and making breathing part of a story or obstacle course motivates kids to breathe deeply.
  • Enhances the relaxation response through movement and poses. Going upside down, when supported through the aerial yoga hammock, is calming to the central nervous system.
  • Introduces children to mindfulness. Simple mindfulness activities, in the aerial yoga hammock, provide children with tools to assist them in counteracting stress and anxiety in their daily lives.
  • Builds adaptive skills such as self-esteem and confidence. Aerial yoga requires strength and lots of practice to climb to poses.  When children see their effort pay off by being able to climb up the hammock – it teaches them that with persistence and effort they can achieve any goal!

If you want to learn more ways aerial yoga can decrease anxiety and enhance your child’s well-being sign up for a free trial class at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Children

Girl playing in the sun

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS-BASED STRESS REDUCTION FOR CHILDREN? 

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teaches children how to self-regulate their behavior through guided instruction. Each session includes mindfulness of the breath, mindfulness of the body (body scan), and mindfulness of movement (calming yoga postures).  Children  learn to identify thoughts and emotions and relate them to experiences. These simple mindfulness practices help children deal with anxiety, improve concentration, and handle difficult emotions.

IS IT SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH?

  • A study at Standford University confirmed that  8-weeks of mindfulness training in fourth through sixth graders led to significant decreases in anxiety and improvements in attention.  The children in this study were less emotionally reactive and better able to handle daily stress (Saltzman, 2010)
  • A study with adolescents under psychiatric outpatient care showed significant improvements in stress, anxiety, and several psychopathological symptoms. The study also found that more time spent in sitting meditation predicted improved functioning and a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms (Burke, 2009).

Sign up for a 8-week mindfulness based stress reduction course at 913-660-8219.

References

Burke, C.A. (2009) Mindfulness-Based Approaches with Children and Adolescents: A Preliminary Review of Current Research in an Emergent Field. J Child Fam Stud. pmid:20339571 doi: 10.1007/s10826-009-9282-x

Saltzman, A. (2010). Mindfulness: A teacher’s guide. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/theBuddha/teacher’s/guide/

Yoga for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Yoga meditation outdoor

“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

Fun Ways to Teach Breath Control

Casa Somerset Yoga-29

“Breathe in,

Breathe out,

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.

BREATHING PRACTICE

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:

  1.  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
  2.  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.
  3.  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?

Namaste.

 

 

Eight Essential Oils That Reduce Anxiety

lavender essence

The medicinal use of essential oils can be traced to ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures. Aromatherapy is taught in French medical schools and prescribed by European physicians; however, doctors in the United States typically don’t prescribe or use them. Hmmm…

The sense of smell is linked to daily functions such as relaxation, attention, performance, and alertness and these states may be achieved purposefully with different aromas (Butje, Repede, & Shattell, 2008). Lavender, my favorite, has been linked with parasympathetic stimulation of the autonomic nervous system. Whoa, sorry, I’m starting to sound like a medical journal. The parasympathetic nervous system helps us stay calm and relaxed. Thus, research has associated lavender with decreased anxiety, enhanced mood, and increased sedation.

Peppermint and rosemary have been linked with improved memory and cognition. Lavender and rosemary have been shown to significantly reduce cortisol, a stress hormone that wreaks havoc on the body. This suggests a protective effect that is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-carcinogenic (Butje, Repede, & Shattell)! Amazing.

Essential oils may be applied in multiple ways; however, the most effective route for reducing anxiety and slowing an overactive mind is inhalation.

Oils used by aromatherapists to decrease anxiety, enhance mood, and reduce stress include (d’Angelo, 2002; Lis-Balchin, 2006):

Lavender.
Lemon.
Clary sage.
Roman chamomile.
Geranium.
Rose otto.
Sandalwood.
Jasmine.

Oils that are synthetic and called fragrance or perfume oils will not offer the therapeutic effects pure plant-extracted oils will and should be avoided. Oils need to be bought from a reputable source and no, Walmart, is not a reputable source. I order my essential oils from Young Living and use one of their diffusers in my therapy room. I’m impressed with their seed to seal process.

Like all medicinal products, it’s important to research oils before using them. Essential oils can be toxic, produce side effects and/or cause allergic reactions. Effective use requires knowledge to safely administer oils.

References

Butje, A., L.M.T., Repede, Elizabeth, MS, APRN-BC,F.N.P., C.M.H., & Shattell, Mona M,PhD., R.N. (2008). Healing scents: An overview of clinical aromatherapy for emotional distress. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 46(10), 46-52.

d’Angelo, R. (2002). Aromatherapy. In S. Shannon (Ed.), Handbook of complementary and alternative therapies in mental health (pp. 71-92). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Lis-Balchin, M. (2006). Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London, United Kingdom: Pharmaceutical Press.