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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is officially a licensed AntiGravity studio! This means our instructors have completed AntiGravity training , we use Harrison AntiGravity Hammocks, and we meet the safety standards associated with being an AntiGravity studio.
What is AntiGravity Aerial Yoga?
AntiGravity is an aerial yoga fitness technique designed to improve one’s health and fitness while having FUN! AntiGravity uses the Harrison AntiGravity Hammock as a yoga prop to support you as you learn aerial yoga techniques and inversions. This unique combination of exercises is intended to decompress your spine and align the body while stretching and strengthening your muscles. Seriously? What more could you ask for in a fitness class!
Who is Christopher Harrison?
AntiGravity was founded by Christopher Harrison. He is a former Broadway dancer and world-class competitive gymnastics specialist. At the age of 20 he suffered a major injury that required eight surgeries to reconstruct his knees. Christopher Harrison spent the next two years rehabilitating himself through rigorous physical therapy and Pilates. His resilience led him to discover, “In life, hidden in the forces that pull us down is the energy to lift us.” In the early 90’s he created AntiGravity, the first aerial yoga practice!
What are the benefits of AntiGravity?
AntiGravity has many beneficial effects on overall health in adults and children. Christopher Harrison personally guarantees: If you can “suspend your disbelief: I guarantee I can make you healthier, happier, and taller, in just one session.
Here are a some of the recognized benefits of a regular AntiGravity practice:
Increased muscular flexibility
Muscular tension release through self-massage techniques
Upper and lower body strengthening
Increased joint mobility
Self-esteem enhancement through the process of conquering basic fears
Decompression and re-aligning of the spine
Refreshes the endocrine, lymphatic, digestive, and circulatory systems
Releases “happy hormones” such as dopamine and serotonin
Increases neuroplasticity of the brain (creating new brain pathways)
Glowing skin: inversions enhance one’s complexion
These are just a few of the many benefits of AntiGravity. While it is great read about the benefits the true magic is in experiencing them first hand. Join us a for a class! After all, who doesn’t want to be healthier, happier, and taller?!?
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.
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?
Executive function is a term for the cognitive-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation. It involves working memory, perspective taking, decision making, emotional regulation, problem-solving, planning, and impulse control. Wow. Executive functioning is pretty important! So important, in fact that it provides the foundation for all educational and social activities. This means executive functioning is something your child needs to successfully navigate life.
When children are under stress it is harder for them to make wise decisions. Chronic stress impairs executive function, which can lead to problems with learning, memory impairment, and behavior issues. The good news is mindfulness and aerial yoga significantly reduce stress and enhance executive functioning. Way to go yoga and mindfulness!
How does Mindfulness Help?
Science has proved that with mindfulness, executive functioning is strengthened. A repeated mindfulness practice actually builds neural pathways in the brain. A consistent mindfulness practice changes neural pathways to neural superhighways, making it more accessible to children in times of stress bolstering their executive functioning.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga?
Mindfulness and aerial yoga improve working memory (temporary storage and managing of information to carry out cognitive tasks). Research shows that mindfulness and aerial yoga teaches children to reflect before they react, which, in turn, reduces impulsive actions. Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga, the Mindful Child way, builds emotional intelligence (ability to notice and manage your own emotions). Once children are more aware of their emotions they are better able to regulate them. Mindful Child teaches mindfulness in a fun, play-based manner that kid loves.
Van de Hurk, P.A.M., Giommi, F., Gielen, S.C., Speckens, A.E.M., & Barendregt, H.P. (2010). Greater efficiency in attentional processing related to mindfulness meditation. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63 (6), 1168
Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., . . . Posner, M. I. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (43), 1, 17152 -17156.
Body Sox is an yoga experience like no other. Children love to stretch in it as many ways as possible. There are multiple ways to use the Body Sox from games to relaxation.
WHAT IS IT?
Body Sox are fun, therapeutic sacks constructed from four-way stretch lycra. Body Sox teach both adults and children about gross motor control by providing proprioceptive feedback that leads to a new awareness of the body.
BODY SOX BENEFITS
Allows children to kinesthetically feel their body
Enhances creativity and imagination
Provides heavy work/deep pressure, which is calming and organizing
Provides tactile input
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOGA?
Children can play Yogi Says, which is just like Simon Says, but with yoga poses. Better yet, let them create their own Body Sox pose, crawl, walk, or slither in it.
Body Sox can also be used in relaxation as a calming sensory escape. Put on relaxing music and/or weighted materials to enhance the experience.
What are you waiting for? Sign-up for a class and try one out!
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.
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.
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.
Palm Push. Press palms together and hold for ten seconds. Palm push provides proprioceptive input to the hands and helps balance the brain.
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.
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.
“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.
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
Child’s Pose Press is one of my favorite yoga techniques. It is very calming and helps to center children when they are having a bad day. Best of all it can be done anywhere.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Calms the nervous system
Eases back strain
Centers the child
Reduces excess energy
HOW DOES IT WORK?
At the base of the spine just above the sacrum, there is an area where several nerve endings come together. When you apply gentle pressure to this area it has a calming affect on the nervous system.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Have the child go into child’s pose. Sit behind him and firmly run your hands up and down his back from top to bottom. This will stretch and open up the vertebrae in the spine. Rest your hands one on top of the other at the base of his back. Breathe in together and as you exhale press into this area with your hands. As you apply pressure, also pull back energetically. Breathe with him for five breathes. If the child is upset this can be extended. While breathing visualize calm positive energy coming out of your hands. Draw the hands firmly up and down the back one more time then release them from the child’s back. Resume your yoga routine. This can be done several times if the child is having a bad day or displays excess energy. If you are not trained in yoga it is best to seek a yoga professional and receive hands-on training before attempting this at home. Namaste.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children