Tracy is a trained yoga professional, certified in both hatha and kundalini yoga. She is certified in yoga levels 1-3 from the world-renowned Radiant Child Yoga (RYC) program. She is also certified in brain gym.
Increasingly, science is uncovering the value of one of the most fundamental forms of movement – climbing. Kids and adults don’t just love climbing for the challenge – there are developmental reasons that attract kids to it. Climbing actually plays a role in children’s mental and physical development. In addition to all the physical benefits, it has been shown to improve creativity, memory, and critical thinking abilities.
Here are a few benefits of a climbing wall:
A climbing wall enhances problem-solving and decision-making skills. Ascending a climbing route is like putting together a puzzle. Each move requires a decision-making process. Where do I go? What is the best route to get there? Learning to solve problems and think for yourself in the moment (without the help of a glossary or google) is part of learning to make smart decisions, which is a skill set that helps kids in everyday situations.
It provides sensory input and improves memory. Psychologists from the University of North Florida found that “proprioceptively dynamic activities like climbing” can significantly improve executive functioning, especially memory. Executive function is important not just for cognitive processing of information, but for behavioral regulation. The study showed that two hours after climbing, participants’ capacity for working memory had increased by 50 percent. WOW!
Climbing develops spatial awareness and motor skills. Not only does climbing build spatial and directional awareness, but it also boosts physical skills such as balance, hand and foot coordination, and agility. When children use both their hands and feet to maneuver varying inclines and distances between climbing holds, it enhances children’s proprioception, the ability to sense one’s own body’s position and movement in space.
It promotes healthy choices and a growth mindset. Overcoming challenges and fear is fundamental to being successful. Encouraging kids to leave their comfort zone, keep trying in the face of failure, and to face their fears helps them to see challenges as opportunities to grow. Challenging situations teach children to believe in themselves.
Climbing develops focus and concentration. Climbing requires attention to task, focus, and discipline to succeed. There is no multitasking when you’re balanced on a narrow foothold trying to find the best route to the top of the wall. No matter what is going on around them, children must stay present and mindful when climbing, by focusing their attention on their hand and footholds. This builds the mind-body connection (how the movement of the body affects the development of the brain).
Climbing is fun. Kids love a good physical and mental challenge. If you throw in a fun bell to ring when they reach the top they may never leave…
Climbing a wall or aerial yoga hammock is a challenge. It promotes agility, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular endurance. We change the hand and foot hold patterns on our climbing wall, which adds a cognitive challenge. The cognitive challenge enhances executive function and builds a growth mindset making it a wonderful addition to our amazing Mindful Child Aerial Yoga Classes.
Alloway, R. G., & Alloway, T. P. (2015). The Working Memory Benefits of Proprioceptively Demanding Training: A Pilot Study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 120(3), 766–775. https://doi.org/10.2466/22.PMS.120v18x1
Emami Kashfi, T., Sohrabi, M., Saberi Kakhki, A., Mashhadi, A., & Jabbari Nooghabi, M. (2019). Effects of a Motor Intervention Program on Motor Skills and Executive Functions in Children With Learning Disabilities. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 126(3), 477–498. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512519836811
Have fun stretching, breathing, and balancing with The Yoga Code Game! This fun, simple movement game helps children practice yoga poses while increasing flexibility and focus. For this game, family members create and draw a yoga code that is deciphered by other family members. After the code is revealed, family members take turns teaching family members how to do their yoga poses. The poses must be practiced in the order drawn, making it a fun flow challenge.
What are the Benefits?
The Yoga Code Game encourages yoga pose practice and review. It builds confidence and enhances memory skills. Creating and deciphering yoga codes fosters creativity and problem-solving. The Yoga Code game also promotes family connectedness.
What to Say.
On a piece of paper, chalkboard, or dry erase board, draw three or more symbols or pictures that represent yoga poses or breathing exercises.
Once your code is completed, take turns deciphering each others yoga codes by guessing what pose the drawing represents.
The person who drew the code becomes the yoga teacher, instructing the other players how to do the poses and breathing exercises that were drawn. The players must do the yoga poses and breath work in order of how they were drawn.
Players take turns being the yoga instructor and practicing the yoga flow creations.
The Yoga Code Game is a fun game for the whole family. It helps children light up their minds and increase their flexibility and strength. If you’d like your child to engage in more games that are good for the brain and body join us for an aerial yoga camp or class.
Air Surfer Pose is a fun way to build confidence in the aerial yoga hammock. This pose is essentially standing in the hammock while you swing or ride the air surf. This pose is for two-point hammocks only, as you want the hammock to be like your standing on a surfboard riding the waves.
What are the benefits?
Air Surfer Pose exercises the body and your child’s imagination. Swinging side-to-side provides sensory input, muscle awareness, and builds motor planning. It improves balance, grip strength and is a mood buster. Swinging, whether sitting or standing, can increase endorphins (chemicals in the brain that make you happy) and wake up a sleepy brain and body, thus this pose is great for focus and concentration.
What to Say
Let’s go surfing! Bring the hammock in front of your body.
Make the hammock skinny like a skateboard.
Hold on to both sides of the hammock as you step up, one foot and then the other.
Once you have your balance start to sway side-to-side or back-and-forth.
Pull the hammock away from your body with your arm as you lean your body to the opposite side. Now do the other side.
Don’t let go while you surf.
To come out of the pose, stand still letting the waves calm down.
Once your hammock is barely moving, step one foot down and then the other.
Mindful Child Aerial Hammocks are beneficial to your child’s development. Swinging is therapeutic whether it is standing, laying, or sitting in the hammock. Check out a Mindful Child class or camp for more fun and therapeutic aerial yoga poses and activities.
For this game, gather a group of a least four players, the bigger the group the better. It is played similar to “Simon Says,” but you say “Yogi Says” instead of “Simon Says” and your commands are related to yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness. Explain to children that a yogi is someone who practices yoga. The players must do whatever yogi tells them, but only when he says “Yogi Says…” before the exercise. Otherwise the player is out. Allow children to take turns being the yogi. Like the majority of our games, it can be played on the ground, in an aerial hammock, or both.
Encourages yoga pose review & practice
Increases memory skills
Promotes focus and concentration
Enhances listening skills
Increase motor coordination
Helps with sequencing and executive function
What to Say
We are going play a game called Yogi Says!
I am going to be “Yogi”
If I say “Yogi says” before an activity, you do the activity, but if I don’t say “Yogi says” you do not do the pose or activity.
For example, when I say “Yogi says do Goddess Pose!” climb up to Goddess Pose.
If I don’t say “Yogi says,” and you do the pose you will be out.
Games are an important part of any kid’s yoga class and some of our most beloved childhood games have therapeutic benefits. Yogi Says is a simple and fun activity that requires no materials. It is the perfect game to address a variety of skills such as sequencing and motor coordination to help with your child’s development. We have a variety of classes and camps full of therapeutic benefits. Come hang out with us!
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, but creating a mindful “chill-ax” space at home may increase the benefits.
Even though mindfulness is easily practiced anywhere and at anytime, the benefits may be enhanced by designating a place where your child can “chill-ax” or take a brain break. The space doesn’t need to be large – just offer enough room for your child to be able to sit or lie down.
Here are few helpful tips when setting up your child’s chill-ax space:
Lighting. Light is important to learning and behavior. It helps regulate mood and affects cognitive performance. Indirect sunlight is best for learning and relaxing; open the blinds and let the light shine in. But not too much, dimly lit areas are best for chill-axing. If you don’t have a room with natural light, try using a fiber optic lamp. At Mindful Child, we love our LIFX smart bulbs in our overhead lights. We can easily dim them or change colors creating a relaxing vibe.
Essential Oils. Unpleasant odors make it difficult to relax. Essential oils can boost your child’s mood and create a relaxing spa-like atmosphere. An easy way to use oils in is by using an essential oil diffuser which will disperse oils throughout the room. You can also buy inhaler sticks and place them on a shelf with your child’s favorite calming scents. At Mindful Child, we only use therapeutic grade Young Living essential oils. Our favorites are Peace and Calming, Stress Away, and Lavender.
Cleanliness. Reduce clutter and keep the space organized. Too many choices tends to overwhelm and distract children. Having a limited choice of organized mindfulness tools will promote relaxation.
Comfort. Being comfortable is an important component of relaxation. Bean bags such as Targets sensory friendly Cocoon Seat are perfect for breathing and practicing mindfulness.
Small Space. Children enjoy small enclosed spaces. It helps them feel safe and reduces visual stimulation. A Teepee or space created with the Nugget (original play couch) is perfect for mellowing out and finding inner peace, tranquility and calm.
Your child can learn lots of evidence-based ways to practice mindfulness by joining us for an aerial yoga camp or class. We infuse every activity with movement, breath and mindfulness.
This holiday season shop thoughtfully and locally – give the
gift of mindfulness!
Holiday shopping can be stressful—especially if you don’t plan ahead. But the holiday season does not have to put such a heavy strain on your wallet and schedule. Consider these gift ideas this year — gifts that encourage mindfulness, promote relaxation and will have a positive impact on the your child’s well-being.
Here are a few handpicked gift ideas:
Mindful Gift Pick #1 – Mindful Child Aerial Yoga Hammock. Who doesn’t love hanging upside down? Our studio grade (this means they are high quality) hammocks are perfect Christmas gifts. They are safety rated and come in a variety of colors.
Mindful Gift Pick #2 – Meddy Teddy. Best yoga mate to your kids. A playful way to get little ones into yoga and meditation. Meddy Teddy is a pose able bear who knows 100’s of Yoga poses.
Mindful Gift Pick #3 – Winter Aerial Yoga Camp. We’ve added a mini camp over Christmas break. Three fun filled days of spinning, climbing and hanging upside down. Camp meets for two hours daily.
Mindful Gift Pick #4 – Late Winter Aerial Yoga Session. Our new session is online and ready for sign-up. Best of all the price is discounted until December 4th!
Mindful Gift Pick #5 – Essential Oil Roll-ons. Young Living has an excellent selection of roll-ons that make perfect stocking stuffers. My personal favorites are Tranquil and Valor.
Mindful Gift Pick #6 – A Journal. Science tells us listing three things you are grateful for daily can make you happier and healthier. Big Life Journal has wonderful journals for all ages.
Mindful Gift Pick #7 – A Buddha Board. Write down your worries with a bamboo brush and watch them slowly evaporate while you take deep breaths.
These gifts are meant to inspire healthy living, allowing you to empower your little ones to learn healthy habits for life. What better gift to give this holiday season?
This breathing technique is referred to as “three-part breath” because of how the breath enters the abdomen, diaphragm, and chest. Children often breathe with only the top portion of their lungs, which means they are missing out on the benefits of using their entire lungs to breathe. Breathing in and out at full capacity provides a sense of balance and calm.
In aerial yoga, Elevator Breath pairs well with Fish Pose and Mermaid Pose. However, it can be done in a seat position such as Bucket Seat Pose as well.
What are the Benefits?
Elevator Breath increases children’s awareness of their breath. Placing hands on the belly, helps kids to bring their breath all the way to their abdomen. It activates the brain’s relaxation system, which sends an instant calm feeling throughout the body. Placing the hands on the belly and heart allows children to feel their breath, which helps with focus, stress-relief and mindfulness.
What to Say.
Lay on your back, place one hand on the heart and one hand on the belly.
Notice your breath and your heartbeat. Is it fast, medium, or slow?
Take a deep breath in through your nose. Feel your belly, rib cage, and the heart center rise beneath your hands.
As you breathe out, feel your belly, rib cage, and heart center fall. Do you feel the elevator going up and down with each breath?
Start to make your elevator go even slower by making your breath slower.
Repeat nine times. Notice your breath and heartbeat. Have they changed?
Elevator Breath is one of the breathing techniques we use in our aerial yoga classes. Mindful breathing can help children become more aware of their feelings, this awareness helps them to manage big emotions.
Spider Pose – a creepy stretch for Halloween aerial yoga.
What is Spider Pose
Spider Pose in land-based yoga is a cross between Goddess Pose and Forward Fold. The hammock version is similar to Goddess Pose, but only your arms are holding you up, which means this is more of an intermediate pose. As with all aerial yoga, parents should supervise kids when doing poses.
Spider Pose is a fun way to balance the body while hanging on to your spider web (hammock). It stretches the hips while building grip and arm strength. Climbing the web and having your spider legs do the spider dance is so FUN you don’t even realize you are working hard to hold your body up!
What are the Benefits?
Spider Pose builds executive function skills while promoting upper body and grip strength. It is a mood and confidence booster.
What to Say
Begin in Bucket Seat (like a big swing).
Take your legs through the middle of the hammock.
Hook them around the hammock.
Start to climb your web (hammock)
Hold on tight and swing your spider legs back and forth.
Do a happy spider dance!
To come out, lean back and slide down the hammock.
Mindfulness is paying attention with our senses, with kindness. Meddy Mindfulness requires your child’s full attention. Each child will mindfully focus on Meddy Teddy, a pose-able yoga teddy bear. Focusing on Meddy Teddy is fun and engaging, which helps children to slow down and focus on the present moment.
What are the Benefits?
Meddy Teddy Mindfulness enhances mindful awareness and is calming. When practiced regularly, mindfulness can improve attention, cognition, emotions, and behavior.
What to Say.
Mindfulness is focusing on what is happening, right now, with our five senses – seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting.
Meddy Mindfulness helps you pay attention to your senses so you can feel focused and relaxed.
Place Meddy is front of you in Easy Seated Pose.
Start by noticing what Meddy looks like. What color is he? Are his eyes open or closed?
Next, put Meddy on your lap. Is he soft or hard? Warm or cold? What else do you notice about how Meddy feels?
Bring Meddy up by your nose. Take in a big breath. What do you smell?
Place Meddy in your favorite yoga pose. As you adjust him, listen very mindfully. Does he make a sound? Do your favorite pose with him. Notice what you hear.
We are going to skip taste since Meddy is not food. Instead let’s use our mindfulness detective skills and see if we can notice one thing about Meddy we haven’t notice before.
What did you notice?
Want to learn more ways to be mindful with Meddy Teddy? Sign up for a aerial yoga class or our online kid’s yoga teacher training! Module Three has Meddy Teddy breathing exercises, cards and games!
Williams and Shellenberger developed the pyramid of learning along with the Alert Program, a self regulation program. The pyramid highlights how sensory processing relates to the learning process. It illustrates children’s foundational skills and the hierarchy of skills needed to support academic learning and behavior. The pyramid is important, as it helps breakdown skills into different foundational levels and prioritize what skills to address first in therapy. The process of moving up the pyramid is called a bottom’s up approach. This means that babies and children’s development begins with physical and sensory skills that they must master, step-by-step to move up to higher level skills such as learning, attending, and self-regulating.
The Pyramid of Learning is a way of looking at the whole child. The foundation of the pyramid is a child’s central nervous system, which is closely linked to their sensory systems. Adequate development is built on being able to register and process sensory information from the seven senses (touch, movement, deep pressure, smell, taste, sight, and hearing). If the lower levels of the pyramid for learning are not solid, then your child may have difficulty focusing, completing homework, and learning new information.
Let’s look closer at the levels of the pyramid and the skills that need to be mastered…
Level Two – Sensory
Vestibular (balance, movement)
Proprioception (deep pressure, where body is in space)
Level Three – Sensory Motor
Body scheme (body awareness through movement)
Reflex maturity (reflexes, for safety purposes)
Ability to screen input (paying attention to sensory experiences that are important)
Postural security (confidence in maintaining certain postures to prevent falling)
Awareness of two sides of the body (bilateral integration)
Motor planning (ability to plan movement)
Level Four – Perceptual Motor
Auditory language skills (hearing & speaking)
Visual-spatial perception (recognize an object’s physical location as well as the physical relationships between objects.)
Attention center functions (maintaining attention)
Eye-hand coordination (using what you see to guide the movement of your hands)
Ocular motor control (locating & fixating on something in the field of vision)
Postural adjustment (adjusting posture to maintain balance)
Level Five – Cognition
Daily living activities (such as eating, toileting, personal hygiene)
Mindful Child’s Approach
Sensory processing skills are foundational for learning and regulating behavior. At Mindful Child, our therapists use the aerial hammock as a therapeutic prop to help children develop the skills they need to successfully climb to the top of the pyramid.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children