Astronaut Training is a therapy program designed to have a direct impact on the vestibular, visual, and auditory systems. It incorporates the activation of different channels of the vestibular systems.
Wait. What is the Vestibular System?
The vestibular system is a very complex system, supporting many levels of central nervous system function. It is located in the inner ear and detects balance, changes in position, and movement. It is a gravitational reference point which anchors head and body position in space. It also integrates movement with all sensations.
How Does it Work?
This space-based program involves having the child sit in a one-point aerial yoga hammock (or astronaut rotary board, but we prefer hammocks) and spinning him in various positions. By doing this, the therapist learns whether the child is over- or under-sensitive to motion (by examining eye movement after spinning), and then uses spinning to train the eyes/body for a more coordinated response to motion and visual stimulus.
Is it Beneficial?
Astronaut Training helps children improve their ability to self-regulate especially when there is vestibular dysfunction. It can also enhance spatial awareness and general movement abilities. In a nutshell, it helps with sensory organization for moving, looking and listening.
At Mindful Child, we use the aerial hammock as a prop to assist with sensory integration. The aerial hammock is incorporated in the Astronaut Program instead of a rotary board to increase engagement. The more engaged a child is with an activity, the more likely they are to benefit from it. If you would like more information regarding how we help children with sensory processing e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or set up an initial assessment today.
As you know there are many ways to practice mindfulness. You can be mindful of what is happening on the inside of your body. This includes noticing your breath, heartbeat, thoughts, and how you feel. You can also be mindful of what is happening on the outside of your body such as what you hear, smell, see, taste and feel. At Mindful Child we explore mindfulness on the inside and outside in all of our classes in many different ways.
Here are three simple ways to explore mindfulness:
Feel your breath. One of the most powerful mindfulness
tools is our breath. Our bodies can
breathe in lots of different ways and how we breathe can affect how we feel. Closing your eyes and noticing how you are
breathing can tell you how you are feeling in your body.
Engage your senses. Take a walk through your house. While you are
walking pay attention to your five senses (touch, sight, taste, smell, and
hearing). Notice the sounds you hear. Can
you hear three different sounds? Take a deep breath, what do you smell? Can you
find all the colors of the rainbow? Touch a few objects. What do you notice?
Scan it. A
body scan can help you become aware of what is happening in your body and
release stress. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in. Let it out.
Imagine a scanner is slowly moving up your body. Let your body feel heavy and relaxed as the
scanner moves gently over your body. Open your eyes. What did the scanner notice?
Science tells us the more we explore mindfulness the more calming brain chemicals our body makes. Try different activities to determine which engage your child. Need more ideas? Join us for our Mindful Child Teacher Training this summer.
Squishing, rolling, pulling, creating… children of all ages enjoy playing with playDough. In addition to being fun, PlayDough has multiple developmental benefits. Our homemade dough feels and smells amazing – making it a simple and natural stress relieving mindfulness tool.
What are the benefits?
Squishing and pulling PlayDough can increase fine motor skills. It strengthens the muscles in the fingers that are needed to climb an aerial hammock or hold a pencil at school. Manipulating PlayDough helps children develop hand-eye coordination. Rolling and pressing PlayDough into cookie cutters provides deep pressure to the joints, which enhances one of our hidden senses called proprioception.
How to Make Amazing Dough.
To start, add the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl.
Stir with an electric mixer.
Combine the essential oil of choice with the vegetable oil and mix into the dry ingredients.
Bring your water to a boil. Add any food coloring to the boiling water.
While stirring with an electric mixer, slowly add the water to the dry ingredients.
Continue to mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Next, shake in a little glitter, but not too much or it won’t stick together.
Knead the dough until smooth.
Store your dough in an air-tight container.
At Mindful Child, we make mindfulness and social emotional learning fun. We’d love to have your child hang out with us in a camp or class
Feeling a little unsettled, stressed, or upset? Grab your mindfulness bottle, give it a shake, and take deep breaths until the glitter settles. Mindfulness bottles are a wonderful addition to any mindfulness space.
Settle Your Glitter is a mindfulness activity that uses a bottle filled with glitter to help children center and relax. Children love to make their own bottle and choose their own colors of glitter.
Fill a clear plastic bottle with hot water, a tablespoon of glycerin, and a drop of liquid dish soap. Have your child choose three different colors of glitter. Pick one color to represent feelings, one to represent thoughts, and one to represent behavior. Sprinkle each color into the plastic bottle using a funnel.
Benefits of a Mindfulness Bottle
A mindfulness bottle is a fun visual prop to teach children how deep breathing can calm the body and the mind. The mindfulness bottle gives children a tool to calm down and focus their minds (settle their glitter) before they make a decision.
What to Say
We’re going to make mindfulness bottles. The glitter represents our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. When we are upset, nervous, or mad, our glitter is unsettled. What can you do to settle your glitter?
Start by finding a comfortable position.
Let’s go one by one, sharing an event that was difficult for some reason (such as giving a speech in front of your class, losing a sports game, watching a scary movie).
Shake the glitter bottle. When you are upset, your thoughts are chaotic, which means your feelings and urges are out of control, just like the glitter.
Set the bottle in front of you. Take ten deep breaths in and out through the nose. Feel the belly rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale.
Do your best to focus your attention on your breath. While you breathe, watch the glitter float down and settle on the bottom of the jar, just like our thoughts. Take a moment each day to practice settling your glitter.
Come Hang Out with Us!
If your child enjoys art, hanging upside, climbing and mindfulness. Join us for a kid’s aerial yoga class or camp! We practice settling our glitter and other evidence-backed ways to feel calm in every session.
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?
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children