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Category Archives: Anxiety

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.

Shift Your Perspective With Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations help children to think positively and believe in themselves.

Materials

Affirmation coloring book or coloring page
Colors, colored pencils or markers
Ambient music

What is Positive Affirmation Coloring?

Positive Affirmation Coloring is a simply buying or downloading an affirmation coloring book and coloring with your child. These can be purchased inexpensively online at Etsy or at local bookstores. Coloring can have therapeutic benefits and be a fantastic mindful activity for children. When coloring is combined with the mood-changing powers of positive affirmations it doubles the calming effects.

What are the benefits of affirmation coloring?

Coloring books with positive affirmations are uplifting and can shift your child’s perspective, creating a positive mindset. Coloring coupled with ambient relaxing music can help your child de-stress and relax.

What do I say?

Let’s sit up tall and practice mindful listening before we begin. While we listen to the relaxing music we are going to color an affirmation page. Affirmations are short positive phrases that focus on what you want out of life. I’m going to pass around the coloring book and I want you to pick an affirmation that means something to you. Tear out that page. As you color, breathe in and out through your nose. Think about the words printed on the page. Say the words in your head as you color. Notice how you feel.

If you are wanting more ways to include positive affirmations in your child’s day or even a children’s yoga class, buy my book, Mindfulness for Children, it is full of simple activities to enhance positivity and mindfulness in children.

Infinity Breath

kid’s mindfulness

What is Infinity Breath?

Infinity Breathing is also referred to as Lazy Eight Breathing, which is a variation of a Brain Gym exercise.  Brain Gym is a set of movements that ready the body for learning.  For this exercise, use a dry erase board or for an extra sensory twist use organic instant pudding on a cookie sheet.  Draw an infinity sign or a number eight laying on its side.  Starting in the middle, your child will trace the left part of the eight while breathing in and the right while breathing out.  As your child traces, make sure he keeps the middle of his body in the center of the eight.  This will insure he is crossing midline.

What are the Benefits?

Crossing midline strengthens neural pathways between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  Crossing midline is important for establishing hand dominance and many other academic skills.  Playing in different textures increases the tactile sense, creativity and body awareness.  It is also calming and relaxing. 

What to Say.

Let’s trace our infinity sign five times with your index finger on your right hand.  Breathe in as you move your finger left, breathe out as you move your finger the other direction. Great!  Switch fingers.  Trace five times with the left index finger. Fantastic tracing! Now let’s use both index fingers to trace the infinity sign ten times.  What does the infinity sign remind you of?  I see butterfly wings.  Let’s create something out of our sign!  To infinity and beyond!

References

Dennison, P. E. (1989). Brain gym: TEACHERS EDITION. Place of publication not identified: Edu-Kinesthetics.

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]

 

 

Turn Your World Upside Down: Benefits to Hanging Upside Down

The UP side of being Upside Down in  Aerial Yoga.

Children love to hang upside down!  If you go to a playground you will see  children hanging precariously from the monkey bars.  But did you know that being upside down is actually good for your child’s brain? In aerial yoga, going upside down is called an inversion.  Inversions, which get your feet above your head have healing and mood benefits. These happy faces definitely show Mindful Child Aerial Yoga inversions are a mood changer!

Here are a few of the recognized benefits that aerial yoga inversions can provide for your child’s health:

  • Going upside down, gives your heart and mind a break, which keeps your child in the present moment.  This allows them to see life from a new perspective.  Perspective taking is an important social emotional skill that we teach in our kid’s yoga classes.
  • Inversions such as inverted lotus pose (pictured here) promote calm and relaxation.  At Mindful Child Aerial Yoga we encourage kids to calm their breath and relax their minds to reap the rewards of being upside down.
  • Handstands and headstands even when supported by a yoga hammock or wall require core strength, focus, and resilience.  All of which are needed to successfully navigate life.
  • Children as young as two-years-old naturally go into Down Dog Pose.  This innate desire to be upside down is your child learning to regulate their central nervous system.  Being upside down provides the sensory integration children need to help regulate their behavior and bodies.
  • Being upside down increases blood flow to the brain.  More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Healthy brains are important for learning and self-regulation.

The UP side of  purposefully hanging upside in aerial yoga is that it is beneficial to your child’s overall health.  Inversions improve posture, circulation, strength and flexibility.  Being upside down can enhance mood, teach perspective taking, and build self-regulation skills.

Always use props such as a wall and spot your child if he is attempting headstand and handstand on the ground. Simple poses such as Down Dog Pose also invert the head. Down Dog Pose is fun and can be done almost anywhere! What are you waiting for? Have your child take a deep breath, plant their hands, lift their feet, and gain a new perspective! Ah…

Body Sox, Odd Looking, But Fun and Self-Regulating

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
  • Coordinates movement
  • 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!

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/

Lavender Cloud Dough

Winneconne, WI - 19 February 2015: Bottle of Young Living Lavender essential oil supplement.

What is lavender cloud dough?

A sensory activity to reduce anxiety and stress in children.  It is therapeutic and super simple to make and store.

What does the research tell us?

Lavender is used to treat neurological disorders such as stress, anxiety, and depression.  Research has shown that lavender aromatherapy decreased depression by 32.7% in individuals suffering from PTSD (Uehleke et al. 2012).   Another study found that lavender essential oil reduced anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression when taken as a supplement (Kasper, 2013).

How do I make it?

8 cups plain flour (all purpose)

1 cup vegetable/ olive or baby oil (avoid baby oil if your child likes to taste things)

2 tablespoons purple powder paint

5 drops lavender essential oil from Young Living

Encourage your child to mix the ingredients with their hands. Once it has a wet sand consistency the dough is ready to be molded.  Let the fun begin!

References

Kasper S. (2013) An orally administered lavandula oil preparation (Silexan) for anxiety disorder and related conditions: an evidence based review. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract; 17 Suppl 1:15-22.

Uehleke, B., et al. (2012) Phase II trial on the effects of Silexan in patients with neurasthenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or somatization disorder. Phytomedicine; 19(8-9):665-71.

 

Special Education Tips for Parents

Group Of Children Playing In Park

Is your child struggling academically, but the school has refused to evaluate for special services? Ummm….They can’t do that! The school system is not always forthright in letting parents know their parental rights when it comes to their child’s education.  Below are a few basic tips to help your child obtain the evaluation or services they need as quickly as possible.

  • Put everything in writing. When attending intervention meetings make sure all requests and concerns are added to the meeting notes.   When requesting an evaluation put the request in writing to the principal and make sure to date the letter.
  • Ask for and read the parent’s rights booklet. Everything a parent needs to know is listed in this booklet.
  • Ask for a draft of the plan a week in advance of the meeting. Review the plan, revise, and list concerns with the plan before meeting with the school team.
  • Do not sign anything at the meeting. If a draft of an intervention plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is proposed at a meeting take the draft home and really look at it to make sure you agree with all that is stated. Do not let the school team pressure you into signing something at the meeting you are unsure. This is your child’s education!
  • Hire an advocate. If you feel as if you are being bullied by the school system by all means hire an advocate as soon as possible. Advocates are well versed in special education law and love litigious meetings. Reduce your stress by letting them negotiate for you.

If the educational jargon in the parent’s rights booklet is difficult to decode or you need an advocate call us at 913-660-8219. We love attending meetings and revising IEPs. Mindful Child Aerial Yoga offers one free consult. Also, the team at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga just so happens to specialize in advocacy services and special education assessments.

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children