Tag Archives: Children

Curious George Yoga

Books are a great way to teach children yoga and mindfulness. Children love Curious George because he is always on the move and getting into mischief. Read a short story such as Curious George by H.A. Rey and infuse it with yoga, breath work, and mindfulness. At the end of the story give your child a “pop quiz” on the content. Have them show you the yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness activities they remember, as they explain what happened in the story. 

For inspiration, here is a list of ideas from my book, Mindfulness for Children, to incorporate into Curious George:

  • Butterfly Breath (page 4)
  • Fruit Roll-Up (page 10)
  • Boat Pose (page 12)
  • Eagle Pose (page 16)
  • Fish Pose (page 22)
  • Cross Crawls (page 22)
  • Mummy Pose with Counting Breath (page 28)
  • Child’s Pose (page 38)
  • Cat/Cow Pose (page 42)
  • Balloon Breath (page 44)
  • Down Dog (page 44)
  • Tree Pose (page 54)
  • Lion’s Pose/Breath (page 54)

What are the Benefits?

Curious George Yoga enhances creativity, focus, and attention. It builds working memory and concentration, development of logic, and mindfulness. Reading Curious and doing the above poses promotes yoga pose practice and review. 

What to Say.

We are going to read a story about Curious George.  Curious George is always very curious and sometimes it is hard for him to stay out of trouble.  As we read the story we will engage in mindfulness and movement activities.  Sit up tall in Easy Seated Pose.  Ready?  Let’s begin.

Brain Challenge

After children have reenacted the story have them take it a step further by asking them what they think happened after the story.  Have your child show you what happened next with movement, breath, and mindfulness.

Acupuncture for Improved Health

Acupuncture can enhance the immune system and help with symptom reduction in a variety of disorders in both children and adults. With allergies and back to school illnesses lurking in the air, acupuncture is an effective, research-based alternative to anti-inflammatory medications.

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture is a type of physical stimulation, which means it irritates body tissue to ease symptoms of pain, inflammation, and/or nausea.  I know, this seems counter intuitive, but the gate control theory of pain suggests that increasing pain by increasing stimulation of nerves, is a way to reduce the perception of pain (Melzack & Wall, 1982).   For example, when you stub your toe you grab your foot and apply pressure or when you burn your fingers on a hot surface you put your fingers in your mouth. It’s the same principal as acupuncture, according to the gate control theory.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Acupuncture, in which needles are inserted at specific points on the skin,  can help reduce symptoms of disorders.  It is based on the premise that the body’s energy flows in 14 distinct channels and a person’s health is dependent on the balance of energy flowing through them (Richardson & Vincent, 1986).  Imbalances can be corrected by inserting tiny needles into the skin.

DOES RESEARCH SUPPORT IT?

There are over 4,000 scientific studies published on the efficacy of acupuncture for various disorders from post-traumatic stress to tennis elbow.  The research suggests acupuncture can effectively treat symptoms such as pain and nausea.  Of course, everyone has a different biochemistry; therefore, not everyone will respond favorably to acupuncture, but this is true for all interventions. The recognition of individual differences has always been a problem in research and immunology.

Other conditions have received attention in research studies and suggest potential areas for the use of acupuncture.  Thus, acupuncture is it not limited to pain and nausea, this is just the primary areas research has emphasized and found to be effective.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH ACUPUNCTURE

I’ve been receiving acupuncture for over a year, primarily for allergies, and have found it to be extremely helpful.  My sinuses will start to drain immediately after the needles are inserted.  The needles stay in for 20-30 minutes and I use that time to meditate.  It is a peaceful experience.

Acupuncture provides me with relief from symptoms like sinus pain and pressure, which is medically valuable. Acupuncture is advantageous over other medical interventions such as anti-inflammatory drugs, which have multiple side effects.

Reputable acupuncturists can provide fantastic alternative medical services, especially for children.  I recommend someone with a doctorate in acupuncture, such as my acupuncturist, Stephanie McGuirk.  Stephanie has studied in China and worked at the KU Integrative Medicine Center. She is extremely knowledgeable and provides a relaxing experience.

References:

Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement Online, 1997 Nov 3-5, 15(5):1-34

Melzack, R., & Wall, P.D. (1982). The Challenge of Pain. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Richardson, P. H., & Vincent, C. A. (1986). Acupuncture for the treatment of pain: A review of evaluative research. Pain, 24, 15-40.

 

Simple Stuff to Help Children Self-Regulate

Children gym fitness kid girl with small dumbbells vector. Fitness kid small dumbbells and sport girl. Little fitness kid girl and cartoon fitness kid girl. Sport dumbbells healthy lifestyle fitness.

Heavy Work = Self-Regulate

Proprioceptive receptors are located in the muscles, tendons, and joints.  These receptors respond to active movement and gravity.  Proprioceptive exercises involve deep pressure.  These exercises are a powerful tool to help children self-regulate.  Here are five simple exercises that can be incorporated into their school day.

  1. Wall Push-Ups. Place palms on the wall, bend elbows, and plant feet firmly on the floor.  Push against the wall for ten second.  Wall push-ups provide proprioceptive input into the arms, hands, and legs.
  2. Seated Push-Ups. Sit on the floor (with legs crossed) or chair (with feet flat). Push on the floor or chair with flat palms trying to slightly lift up the bottom.  Hold for ten seconds.
  3. Palm Push. Press palms together and hold for ten seconds.  Palm push provides proprioceptive input to the hands and helps balance the brain.
  4. Squeezes. Cross wrists and squeeze up from the wrists to your shoulders then squeeze down the arms again from the shoulders to the wrists.  Go up and down the arms ten times.  Squeezes improve attention, develop the brain, and provide proprioceptive input.
  5. Down Dog. Begin on hand and knees.  Spread the fingers wide and press the hands firmly into the mat.  Tuck the toes and bring the hips high while trying to push the heels toward the floor. Keep a slight bend in the knees and relax the head. Make it fun by wagging your tail.  Down Dog requires heavy work, which is movement that provides resistance to the muscles and joints. Heavy work develops the brain and helps children self-regulate.

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/

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.

Juice Plus+ For Improved Health

Fruits market

WHAT IS JUICE PLUS+?

Juice Plus+ is whole food based nutrition, including all the amazing antioxidants in 30 fruits, vegetables, and grains just minus the water. Juice Plus is available in chewable and capsule form. Both forms deliver the same healthful benefits.

 HOW DOES IT IMPACT HEALTH?

Juice Plus+ contains multiple antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate, which strengthen cells involved in immune functioning. This is important because antioxidants do exactly what the name implies; they prevent oxidation reactions in the body. Oxidation causes “free radicals” which damage cells and cause aging. It’s okay to have oxidative reactions in the body, but we don’t want the by-products, free radicals, wreaking havoc and making us sick. Oxidative stress has been associated with many diseases including, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease.

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?

  • Researchers conducted a 6-month study on Juice Plus+ to determine the preventive effects on common cold symptoms (Roll, Nocon, & Willich 2011). Juice Plus+ led to a 20% reduction in common cold symptom days in healthcare workers exposed to patient contact.
  • A Florida study found significantly increased antioxidant plasma levels in a group of stressed out law students who took Juice Plus+ for 77-days (Nantz, Rowe, Nieves, & Percival, 2008). This means that despite their stress the law students had increased antioxidants in their bloodstream.
  • Research demonstrated increased immune functioning and improved inflammatory markers in a 28-week period in police special forces trained men (Lamprecht, Oettl, Schwaberger, Hofmann, & Greilberger, 2007). Thus, men who are physically fit and active have reduced inflammation and higher antioxidants in their bloodstream.

Juice Plus+ has been researched by leading hospitals and universities. There are over 30 research studies that validate the benefits of Juice Plus+.   Therefore, it is a great way to enhance health and prevent disease in children and adults. Order yours today by clicking on  this link.

References

Lamprecht, M., Oettl, K., Schwaberger, G., Hofmann, P., & Greilberger, J. (2007). Several indicators of oxidative stress, immunity, and illness improved in trained men consuming an encapsulated juice powder concentrate for 28 weeks. The Journal of Nutrition, 2737 -2741.

Nantz, M., Rowe, C., Nieves, C., & Percival, S. (2008). Immunity and antioxidant capacity in humans is enhanced by consumption of a dried, encapsulated fruit and vegetable juice concentrate. Journal of Nutrition, 136: 2606-2610.

Roll, S., Nocon, M., & Willich, S. (2011). Reduction of common cold symptoms by encapsulated juice powder concentrate of fruits and vegetables: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, 105, 118-122.

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.

 

 

Stop and Smell the Flowers, Lavender Calms the Mind

Essential oils reduce stress and calm the mind.

Aromas act directly on the brain through nerve receptors in the nose.  Millions of nerve cells in our nasal passageways send impulses to the hypothalamus and limbic area, which are the brain’s emotional centers. Aroma of certain oils is linked to the amygdala and pineal gland in the brain, which are also associated with emotion, thus it can help the mind and body by reducing emotional trauma.

Lavender is associated with relaxed brain waves.  Thus, when a child is upset, deep diaphragm breathing coupled with lavender, will have a calming affect on the central nervous system.  Research demonstrates breathing exercises have been successful in reducing anxiety related to attachment disorder, agoraphobia or general anxiety disorder.

Children often need visual reminders to breathe, especially when they are upset.  I make bracelets with lavender scented flowers.  When the child is upset and breathing shallowly, I provide the cue, “Stop and smell the flowers.”  Nine deep breaths are needed to calm the central nervous system.

Additionally, I use essential oils when teaching kid’s yoga and mindfulness. When mixing essential oils, always use oils that are pure and from a respectable source, such as Young Living.  Essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil such as sesame or olive oil in a specific ratio. So if you can’t find a flower to smell, make one.

References

Di Ciacco, J. A. (2008). The colors of grief: Understanding a child’s journey through loss from birth to adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Overholser, J.C. (2000). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorder. Psychotherapy, 37, 247-256.