Tag Archives: kids yoga

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.

Mindful Nature Walk

What is Mindful Nature Walk?

Nature Walk is taking a walk with your child; however, he pretends he is walking in the wilderness. While on the walk your child will notice all the wildlife on the walk. The goal is to notice as many details about the birds, insects and other animals as they can. Giving your child a magnifying glass or binoculars really allows them to see bugs and birds up close and notice details they may have missed in the past.

What are the Benefits?

Nature Walk builds visual memory and visual observation skills. It helps children focus their attention and concentrate.Wildlife walk promotes mindful awareness and mindful movement.

What to Say.

  • Let’s go on a wildlife walk! As we walk through the wilderness we want to remain quiet and mindful. We will walk slowly so we don’t miss anything.
  • Turn your senses on high and notice all the birds, bugs and wildlife that you can. Remember we are always kind to our environment. Just notice the wildlife, don’t interact with it.
  • Use your magnifying glass or binoculars to watch the wildlife in silence and notice what it sounds like, how it moves, and what colors you see.
  • Afterward we will draw what we’ve observed so really pay attention and watch all the insects, animals, and birds that you find. Reflect on the Wildlife Walk by asking, “Was it hard to focus on just one thing? Which details were easier to remember? Did you notice something that you haven’t noticed before? What helped you keep your focus?”

Mindfulness Challenge

For older children, search for objects in nature to explore as well. Have them notice what it looks like, smells like, how it feels, and if it makes a sound. Ask them to remember as many details as possible. When you return from the walk ask your child to write down all the details they remember and reflect on the experience. Discuss ways mindful seeing connects to real life. You may ask, “How does mindful seeing help someone who has seen an accident? How does being mindful help you at school? What are jobs that require mindful seeing and memory skills?”

Want to learn more? Join us for our kid’s yoga and mindfulness teacher training this summer!

A Mindfulness Activity to Improve Your Child’s Well-Being

What is Take Flight?

This mindfulness activity requires visualization and a good imagination.  Have your child imagine they are bird in flight.  As he is flying over the earth, ask your child to look down on all the things he is grateful for.  Next, have your child draw a picture of the bird flying over all the wonderful things he has to grateful for in his life. 

What are the benefits?

Visualization coupled with gratitude is a powerful combination to shift a negative mood to a positive mood.  Take flight is relaxing, enhances well-being, and encourages mindful reflection. 

What to Say.

Lay down in a comfortable position such as Corpse or Mummy Pose.  Close your eyes.  Let’s take a couple Elevator Breaths.  Imagine you’re a bird.  Think of what your bird looks like.  In your mind, form a picture of your bird.  Is he a small bird or a majestic eagle?  What color is your bird?  Now imagine that your bird has taken flight and is flying over the earth.  Your bird looks down and sees all the things you are thankful for.  Breathe in and out through your nose.  What does your bird see?  Picture the things that you are grateful for as your bird fly’s high overhead.  Remember to keep breathing in and out through your nose, as you picture your bird flying.  Slowly open your eyes and come to an Easy Seated position.  We are going to draw a picture that shows what your bird saw when he was flying. You can even add your bird flying over ahead.  Ready?  Let’s draw!

Want to learn more ways to help your child be mindful? Sign up for a workshop, yoga teachertraining, or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Daniel, T., (2018). Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids Avon, MA: Adams Media

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.

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

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.

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.

 

Kindness for Happier, Healthier Kids

Kindness can boost happiness, resilience, and the immune system.

Kindness is being friendly, generous, and considerate. Small acts of kindness have a powerful impact on others.  Science demonstrates that completing kind acts, even if it’s as simple as smiling at a friend, can boost happiness.  This means being kind is contagious, when your child does a kind act for someone it leads to them doing another kind act. Research indicates random acts of kindness can lift your child’s mood, reduce stress, and build the immune system.

Our first rule in aerial yoga classes is to be kind. We teach kids to not only be kind to others, but to the environment, and to themselves.  Cultivating kindness helps your child develop social and emotional skills, confidence, and resilience.  When a child becomes more aware of their own kind behavior it improves their overall well-being.

Three Ways to Teach Kindness to Children:

  1. Read About It. There are several books that teach kindness to young children and stories are a great way for children to learn social emotional skills.  “Have you Filled a Bucket Today” is a story that demonstrates how kindness can fill buckets and make others feel good.
  2. Sign-Up for a Random Acts of Kindness Challenge. Scientists have shown that doing random acts of kindness for two minutes a day can train your brain to be more positive. Kindness challenges can be downloaded for free online.
  3. Kindness Coins. Kindness coins can be purchased inexpensively online. Kindness coins help children build compassion and empathy. They also reinforce positive behavior and kids love them!

Kindness, takes practice, which is why we make it a rule.   Being kind can be taught in the home, classroom or even during an aerial yoga class.  it can be simple and only take a few minutes, but it is important to build it into your child’s day.

References

Kathryn E. Buchanan & Anat Bardi (2010) Acts of Kindness and Acts of Novelty Affect Life Satisfaction, The Journal of Social Psychology, 150:3, 235-237, DOI: 10.1080/00224540903365554
Isen, A. M., & Levin, P. F. (1972). Effect of feeling good on helping: Cookies and kindness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21, 384–388.