Tag Archives: focus

Finding Balance

Balancing poses help children focus, be mindful, and feel grounded.

What is Finding Balance?

Finding Balance is a flow between balancing poses. Before children engage in Finding Balance they need to be familiar with balancing poses such as tree and airplane pose. Balancing poses are an integral part of children’s yoga and are great for building focus in children. As children move through this balancing flow they experience a calm awareness in which attention and concentration are enhanced.

What are the Benefits?

Balance poses increase focus, strength, and help children feel grounded. Balancing poses require children to be fully present or they fall over, which makes them great for present moment awareness.

What to Say.

Let’s stand together in Mountain Pose. Take three deep balloon breaths. Now shift your weight into your right foot and come into Tree Pose. Take three deep breaths as a tree. Now, let’s gently kick our leg back into Airplane Pose. Try not to let your foot touch the ground as you move to Airplane Pose. Take three deep breaths. Let’s see if we can move back to Tree Pose without falling or touching the ground. Great! You did it! What amazing focus. Let’s do the same flow, but on the other foot. Ready?…

Mindful Yoga Memory

Mindful Memory is a fun way to enhance executive functioning, physical health, and mindfulness.

Materials

 Memory Yoga from Thinkfun or homemade yoga/mindfulness cards

What Is Mindful Memory?

Mindful Yoga Memory puts a mindfulness spin on a classic card game.   Mindful Memory is simply the original memory card game, but with yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness. Yoga Memory card games can be purchased online or you can easily create your own.  To create your own simply buy colored index cards and write, draw, or paste a picture of mindful movement and breathing exercises on one side. Make sure you create two of each card. Place the cards face down in rows. Have each player turn over two cards, looking for two that match. When the match is found, the group should perform that pose or activity. The player gets to keep the match and the player with the most matches wins.

What are the Benefits?

Mindful Yoga Memory helps children develop breath and body awareness while boosting matching, taking turns, social, and memory skills. It also improves flexibility, coordination, executive function, and focus. Mindful memory is a fun way to review mindfulness concepts and poses.

What do I Say?

We are going to play Mindful Yoga Memory! I’m going to mix up the cards and lay them face down in four rows. When it is your turn, flip over any two cards. If the two cards match, keep them and we will do the activity on them. If they don’t match, turn them back over. Try to remember what was on each card and where it was. Also, remember during other people’s turns. Really be mindful and focus your attention on the cards. OK, we found all the matches! Lets count our matches.  The player with the most matches wins.

Mindful Sound Meditation

Mindful sound meditations improve mindfulness, listening skills, and attention.

It can be difficult to find quiet time in a child’s day. The following exercise will remind you to help children appreciate silencing themselves for a bit to better hear other sounds around them.

What Is Om Gnome?

Om Gnome is a mindful listening meditation.  In this exercise, children will pay close attention to the experience of listening. Play ambient music that includes nature sounds.  Children sit quietly like an Om Gnome and try to detect all the nature sounds in their enchanted garden. After some practice, children may find Om Gnome useful to help settle their minds before homework or any activity that requires sustained concentration.

What Are The Benefits Of Om Gnome?

Om Gnome builds listening skills, attention, and focus. It promotes mindful awareness and self-awareness.

What to Say.

kids mindfulness

Sit up tall in Easy Seated Pose. Place your hands on your knees and make the Focus Mudra also known as Gyan Mudra. Close your eyes. Begin to breathe slow calming breaths in and out through your nose. Imagine that you are an Om Gnome sitting in a tranquil spot in your enchanted garden. Listen to the sounds in the garden. If you listen closely and mindfully you will be able to hear all the magical nature sounds. Slowly open your eyes. What did you hear?

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

Reference

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

5 Ways Mindful Aerial Yoga Improves Your Mental Health

Mindful aerial yoga decreases stress, increases happiness, and enhances focus.

If you think you are frazzled by over commitments, multi-tasking, and digital-age stress, imagine how your children must feel. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teens are the most stressed out demographic in the United States.  Fortunately, teens and children are drawn to mindful aerial yoga and can reap a multitude of benefits from a consistent practice, especially when mindfulness is added in. Hmmm…I wonder what Kansas City aerial yoga studio is known for combining aerial yoga and mindfulness…

Here are some of the recognized benefits that mindful aerial yoga can provide for you and your child’s mental health:

  • Aerial yoga decreases stress. Research on the biological effects of meditation and yoga found that individuals that practiced mind-body activities, such as aerial yoga, had decreased inflammation in the body.  Even just 10 minutes of mindful aerial yoga can decrease stress and be beneficial to you and your child’s health.
  • Aerial yoga makes you happier. Aerial yoga releases “happy hormones.” Happy hormones are neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that play a major role in mood regulation. Science has found that the practice of activities such as mindfulness and aerial yoga triggers neurotransmitter production.  These neurotransmitters reduce the symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, while increasing overall happiness and well-being.
  • Mindful aerial yoga enhances focus. When you are in the present moment, you can not dwell on the past (depression) or worry about the future (anxiety).  When children unplug and experience the art of paying attention on purpose, they reap the benefits of the mindfulness and aerial yoga activities—they enjoy being present, aware, and in the moment, which are important life skills.
  • Mindful aerial yoga increases resiliency. Electrical changes have been noted in the left frontal portion of the brain following mindfulness training, which scientists believe is linked to enhanced resilience. Resilience is the ability to cope in challenging situations and bounce back from adversity. Mindful children can deal with difficult emotions without shutting down and are able to bounce back quicker from disappointment .
  • Aerial yoga and mindfulness change the brain for the better! The brain’s ability to adapt is called neuroplasticity, meaning the brain has pliability and can change with experience. A consistent practice of mindfulness and aerial yoga can create new pathways in the brain, resulting in improved mental health, physical health, and well-being. Way to go aerial yoga and mindfulness!

The evidence from science, indicates mindful aerial yoga is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, and best of all there are not ANY side effects. It may also be considered preventive medicine.  This means, that with practice, mindful aerial yoga is a good defense against stress and mental health issues that may arise as the result of stress. It is highly recommended that EVERYONE, both adults and children, reap the benefits of a mindful aerial yoga practice.

Want to learn specific ways to introduce mindfulness and aerial yoga to your child? If you live near Kansas City, register for a mindfulness-based aerial yoga class.   For those outside of the Kansas City area, buy my book, Mindfulness for Children,  and begin your journey to happiness!

References

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

Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R., & Lakshmanan, S. (2015). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. Ancient Science2(1), 13–19. http://doi.org/10.14259/as.v2i1.171

Kjaer TW, Bertelsen C, Piccini P, Brooks D, Alving J, Lou HC. Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. Cognitive Brain Research. 2002;13:255–259. [PubMed]

 

 

Reverse Warrior Pose for Focus

Reverse Warrior Pose for Focus, Strength, and Calm

Reverse Warrior Pose is part of the Warrior series, which is a powerful set of poses known for building strength.  Reverse Warrior requires a bit more balance than some of the other warrior poses as children are looking up with one arm reaching for the sky and one arm resting on the back leg.

Benefits

Reverse Warrior Pose stretches and strengthens your child’s entire body while developing balance and coordination. Reverse Warrior increases mindful awareness and promotes inner calm. It also creates concentration and focus from the ground up.

What to Say

  • Begin in Warrior II. Keep your front knee bent as you flip your front palm to face the sky.
  • Lift your front arm toward the sky. Look up at your hand. Breathe in as you reach up higher. Rest your other hand on your back leg.
  • Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Notice how you feel. Do you feel a gentle stretch in your side?
  • Let’s shake it out and be a warrior on the side.  Notice how this side feels.  Is it different from the first?

Want more children’s poses to help build focus, concentration, strength, and more? Pre-order Mindfulness for Children, by Tracy  Daniel on Amazon.

 

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.

Mindfulness Quiets The Mind

Casa Somerset Yoga-30

I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness is characterized by stopping, paying attention on purpose, peace, and compassion   Mindfulness is a way of looking at experiences with emotional balance and compassion for self and others.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Mindfulness gives the individual a way to deal with negative experiences. More intimate connections with others are accomplished and regrets are not focused on. Mindfulness enhances physical health by decreasing stress, blood pressure, pain, and improving the quality of sleep. Mindfulness can supplement mental health treatments by improving symptoms related to depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Siegel (1999) reports that the structures and functions of are brain are molded by interpersonal experiences. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve neural growth in the brain. The more you engage in an activity the better the body will become at doing it due to this neural growth; therefore, it is important to engage in mindfulness daily.

Stress comes from contemplating about the past or worrying about the future. Living your life in the current moment and focusing your attention on the activity you are doing at the moment does not leave space for other things to invade your thoughts, such as fears, worries or anything that may be stressful. When meditating, your attention is on the meditation object, which may be your breath or mantra. This focus allows your mind to quiet and to be fully present in the moment. Performing activities such as schoolwork with mindfulness leads to improved outcomes. Not only is stress and worry decreased, focus is improved.

 HOW DO I TEACH IT TO MY CHILD?

Teaching children mindfulness can be tricky. After all the art of doing nothing is hard to learn in our frantic society.  A simple way to demonstrate mindfulness to children is to show them how to check in with their breath. Props such as stuffed animals or hoberman spheres can be used.  Children love to pretend the props are riding the breath on their tummies. Also, there are several books that introduce mindfulness. One of my favorites is “Peaceful Piggy Meditation. ” So spend a few minutes at the end of the day being mindful, and before you know it you will have a mindful child.

References

Boyce, B. (n.d.). The secret of success for MBSR. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/in-body-and-mind/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/the-secret-of-success-for-mbsr

Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Cultivating mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm

Siegel, D. J. (n.d.). The science of mindfulness. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/the-science/medicine/the-science-of-mindfulness

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The Developing Mind. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

 

Want to Improve Your Child’s Learning and Focus? Drink This.

Children portrait

It s odorless, tasteless, and colorless, but makes up eighty percent of our body weight at birth. Need more hints? The brain has more of it than any other organ in the body with estimates as high as ninety percent. Last hint. It is essential to life.  Yep, you guessed it, the secret elixir is water.

Okay, we know it is an essential substance for life, but why learning? Our bodies are electrical systems. Water is essential for electrical transmissions, which distribute oxygen and nutrition (Hannaford, 2005). Electrical transmissions in the nervous system help children use their senses, learn, focus, and act.

Water is emphasized in Brain Gym, simple exercises that increase blood flow and aide in learning. Drinking water during school will help with learning and keep dehydration at bay during stressful situations such as presentations and tests.

Children should drink water and avoid drinks such as soda, fruit juice, and milk. These drinks have sugar and salt in them, which binds  water in the body, leaving less available for electrolyte levels in the nerves.

It is advised to start the day with a glass of water for digestive and liver support. Efforts should be made to keep children hydrated with at least 2 quarts of filtered water daily and more if they are in sports or very active. Try water with lemon or orange slices to give it a bit of flavor. Most importantly drink it yourself, children learn through modeling.

Reference

Hannaford, C. (2005). Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head. Salt Lake City, Utah: Great River Books