In our fast-paced world relaxation is an essential skill. Like any skill is it something that must be taught and practiced. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can be taught on the ground with a yoga mat or in an aerial yoga hammock – the key is to a find a place that your child finds comfortable.
What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
Children and adults do not realize that their muscles are chronically tense. Muscle tension increases during times of stress and can lead to injury. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) teaches body awareness to identify muscle groups and notice the sensations of tension and relaxation.
What are the Benefits?
Progressive Muscle Relaxation has many health benefits including reducing stress and muscle tension. Incorporating it into a story helps to engage children and promotes their imagination. PMR has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, along with improving sleep.
What to Say
Imagine you are surrounded by snow. The snow is gently falling all around you. Make your body into a tight like ball of frozen snow. You are a snowball.
Picture a snowball fight. Your snowball is floating through the air.
Tighten all of your muscles. Glue everything together and squeeze.
Don’t let you snowball fall apart.
Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Notice how you feel. This is what happens to your body when you are mad or nervous. Your body tightens up like it is frozen.
Your snowball has landed on a soft patch of snow. Feel the soft snow below and around you like a big fluffy bean bag.
Now imagine that sun has come out and you are starting to melt.
The sun feels warm and it begins to fill you with light.
Breathe in as you curl your toes in and scrunch your feet. Hold for one, two, three. Breathe out as you start to wiggle your toes and let your feet begin to soften just like they are melting. Puddles are relaxed and wiggly – not tight and stiff.
As you breath in tighten your legs. One, two, three. As you breathe out start to wiggle your legs and let them relax.
Take a deep breath in and make your hands into tight fists and your arms straight and tight. Hold for one, two, three, now let all the air out as you relax your fingers and arms into a wet puddle of water.
Take a deep breath in as you bring your shoulders up by your ears. Scrunch your shoulders. One, two, three. Breathe out as you let your shoulders begin to soften and relax down your back.
Close your eyes and scrunch up your entire face. Imagine a warm sun on your face. Breathe in. One, two three, release your breath and let your face relax.
Let your body feel heavy just like water. Imagine a forests of pine trees all around you. If you would like to smell the trees raise your hand, I will put a cotton ball with pine essential oil in it.
Continue to relax and breathe.
Slowly come up to a seated position. Notice how you feel.
At Mindful Child…
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is just one method we employ in our classes and therapy sessions to help children relax. It is an evidence-based approach that children enjoy. When you add movement and the senses the child is using more areas of their brain, which enhances the benefits. Want to learn more ways to combat stress? Check out our Mindful Child Yoga Teacher Training or sign your child up for an aerial yoga class.
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?
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.
Believe it or not, movements such as climbing, are essential to cognitive functioning. Movement integrates new information and experiences into children’s brains. Children not only build their brains when they are moving, but they build the muscles they need to sit in a chair and write. Allowing children time to engage in unstructured play is essential to their development. When a child is playing, they are producing endorphins (brain chemicals that make us happy). Thus, unstructured play develops your child’s muscles, sensory systems, and their brains, making it the foundation that complex learning is built on.
Here are a few activities that are full of therapeutic benefits
and easy to fit into your child’s day:
Swinging is not only relaxing, but it builds core strength and motor coordination. When your child spins in a swing they are
engaging different parts of the brain at the same time. These areas in the
brain are associated with learning skills such as spatial awareness,
rhythm, timing, balance, and muscle control.
Climbing. When children are climbing, they are
stretching their arms upwards, which enhances cardiovascular flow and
flexibility. Additionally, climbing
builds upper body strength and coordination
Running builds strength in the legs, endurance, and provides sensory
With screen time and school taking time away from unstructured play, children do not have as much time to engage in healthy movement activities. This is detrimental to their development and learning. It is important to try to spend at least an hour a day letting children engage in movement-based activities. If possible, give them time to engage in unstructured play, this allows them to seek out the movement their bodies need, which is a form of self-regulation.
At Mindful Child, we allow unstructured play in our aerial hammocks for at least 15 minutes of every aerial yoga class. Children are able to climb, spin, and swing in our hammocks, providing them the movement their bodies and brains need for healthy development.
Windmills strengthen and tone the entire body, making them a popular warm- up exercise in physical education, yoga, and martial arts. Windmills are also good for improving brain power. Moving opposite limbs across the body engages the brain and integrates brain hemispheres.
What are the Benefits?
Windmills stretch your arms, shoulders, core and lower back. Windmills are also a core exercise as you use your core muscles to twist and return to an upright position.
Cognitively, windmills strengthen the brain. Windmills require your child to cross midline, which refers to being able to reach across the body with arms or legs. Midline is an imaginary line down the center of your body. Being able to cross midline is an important developmental skill that is linked to reading and writing.
What to Say.
Stand up tall in Mountain Pose with your feet apart.
Take a deep breath in. Stand up taller.
As you breathe out, bend over and touch your right foot with the left hand.
Breathe in as you stand up.
Time to switch sides. Keep going!
Windmills are a fun and easy brain break. They can be done almost anywhere and best of all they are building brain power! Want more easy ways to build your child’s brain? Join us for an aerial yoga class or read Mindfulness for Children.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children