Tag Archives: aerial yoga hammock

Natural Light and Mental Health

Children’s Yoga at Mindful Child

Light is important to learning and behavior. There are many studies that have investigated the relationship between natural light and it’s affect on psychological well-being and children’s academic performance. Light helps regulate mood and affects cognitive performance. Indirect sunlight is best for learning and reading. An aspect of learning is that we learn when we feel secure, calm, happy and challenged.  Natural light boosts mood, which, in turn, increases learning.

Different rooms require different types of light sources depending on their function, but regardless of the function, when looking at lighting, natural light has measurable health benefits. 

What are the Benefits of Natural Light?

Natural light enhances the mood enhancing brain chemical, serotonin. Studies have shown the more sunlight exposure you receive the higher the level of serotonin in the body. This boost in serotonin helps your child feel calm and happy. Additionally, light affects the body’s internal clock thus it can improve sleep, release hormones, and boost overall well-being.

When you look at creating a mindful space for your child, there are aspects of lighting to consider:

  • Avoid fluorescent lights. A study in 2017 examined fluorescent lighting in 90 classrooms with results showing that 80% of classrooms were lit with 100 Hz fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is linked with headaches and impaired visual performance.  Not only do these lights cause discomfort, but children with sensory needs may experience sensory overload.  If fluorescent lights are unavoidable consider covering them with light covers that filter and soften the light. 
  • Natural light is best. Fielding (2017) reports light is perhaps the single-most important element in the learning environment. Research shows that in classrooms with natural light math scores improve by 20% and verbal scores by 22%.
  • Dimly lit areas help children relax. Mindful Child aerial yoga hammocks filters out light when inside it, creating a relaxing retreat.  If your child is relaxing in a tent, it will also create a dimly lit area to practice mindfulness techniques.
  • Smart bulbs are worth the cost. At Mindful Child, we installed LIFX smart bulbs in our overhead lights. We can easily dim them or change the colors creating a relaxing vibe.  They are a great addition to the natural light we have from all of our amazing windows. At night, the smart bulbs create an ambiance that facilitates relaxation.

At Mindful Child, we have put a lot of thought into our conditions for calm and the optimal environment to help children relax and gain the most benefit from our mindfulness techniques. Light has a biological affect on children and adults, with natural light having brain changing benefits.

References

Boubekri, M., Cheung, I. N., Reid, K. J., Wang, C. H., & Zee, P. C. (2014). Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine10(6), 603–611. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3780

Roenneberg T, Kantermann T, Juda M, Vetter C, Allebrandt KV. Light and the human circadian clock. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2013;(217):311-31. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-25950-0_13. PMID: 23604485.

“Lighting and Discomfort in the Classroom.” Lighting and Discomfort in the Classroom – ScienceDirect. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2017. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494408001011>.

Fielding, Randall. “Learning, Lighting and Color: Lighting Design for Schools and Universities in the 21st Century.” DesignShare (NJ1). DesignShare. 4937 Morgan Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409-2251. Tel: 612-929-6129; Tel: 612-929-3520; Web Site: Http://www.designshare.com, 30 Nov. 2005. Web. 01 Aug. 2017. <https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED497664>.

Deep Pressure Touch

What is Deep Pressure Touch?

Deep pressure is tactile input that provides proprioceptive input to the body. This can consist of many things including hugging, squeezing, compression, massage, aerial yoga or wrapping up tight in a yoga mat. When administered to the body, deep pressure touch has a calming, organizing effect on your child’s nervous system.

How Does it Work?

Steamroller at Mindful Child

Deep touch pressure decreases the “fight or flight” response and lowers stress hormones in the brain and body. Deep pressure increases neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that regulate mood).  It enhances levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help your child sleep, feel calm and be happy. The increase in serotonin and dopamine also counteracts the effects of the stress hormone, cortisol, which results in better regulation.

What are the Benefits?

Because deep pressure touch influences the parasympathetic activity (vagal tone) and sympathetic activity (reduced stress response) it has many benefits. Deep pressure touch may improve sensory integration, enhance body awareness, and increase focus.  Additionally, it can help with coordination, improve sleep and reduce stress/anxiety. 

What Does the Research Say?

• Reynolds, Lane, Mullen (2015) studied the effect of deep pressure stimulation using the Vayu Vest, results demonstrated that wearing the Vayu Vest for even short periods of time positively affected the autonomic nervous system. Their research concluded deep pressure may be useful for reducing internalizing and externalizing behaviors, increasing attention, and decreasing impulsivity.
• Mullen et al (2008) found that the use of a weighted blanket, lowered anxiety (63%), lowered physiological data (blood pressure, pulse rate, pulse oximetry), and had a positive calming effect (78%).

Deep touch pressure activities you can do at home:

Body Sox Yoga at Mindful Child
  • Rolling/wrapping your child firmly in a yoga mat to make a “fruit roll-up”
  • Make a sandwich, by gently squishing them between two soft pillows
  • Firmly roll a weighted exercise ball on top of your child’s legs, back and arms, we call this steamroller. 
  • Weighted lap pad.
  • Yoga poses in a Body Sox.
  • Climbing under sofa or at Mindful Child, Nugget cushions
  • Deep Pressure seating options like our canoe (feels like a hug). 
  • I’ve saved the best for last…aerial yoga in a Mindful Child aerial yoga hammock!

There are many play-based ways to provide deep pressure touch. Combine the activities with deep breathing to double the calming efforts. Want more? Have your child hang out with us in class or camp to learn techniques to promote happiness and calm.

References

S, Reynolds, S.J., Lane, B., Mullen. (2015). Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation on Physiological Arousal American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2015, Vol. 69, 6903350010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015560

B. Mullen, T, Champagne, S. Krishnamurty, D. Dickson, & R. X. Gao (2008) Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket, Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24:1, 65-89, DOI: 10.1300/J004v24n01_05

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Story for Kids

Snowball Relaxation Story

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 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.

Air Surfer Pose

Air Surfer Pose

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

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.

Mindful Gift Ideas

Mindfulness

This holiday season shop thoughtfully and locally – give the gift of mindfulness!

Meddy Teddy

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

Spider Pose – a creepy stretch for Halloween aerial yoga.

Spider Pose in the Aerial Hammock

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.
  • Don’t let go.
  • Take the legs back through the middle
  • Your back in Bucket Seat
  • Take a bow!

Want to learn more fun strength building poses for kids? Join us for an aerial yoga class or take our online aerial yoga training.

Aerial Butterfly Pose

Butterfly Pose

Aerial Butterfly Pose is a great pose to relax, meditate, and stretch out your hips. Did you know that flapping your arm wings takes coordination, core strength and communication between the brain and body?

Aerial Butterfly requires focus and strength to stay upright in the hammock, it is not suitable for children under age six. Parents are advised to spot children when doing this pose and to make sure they are practicing on a padded floor.

What are the Benefits of Aerial Butterfly Pose?

  • Opens hips
  • Improves posture
  • Increases body awareness and motor planning
  • Enhances executive function
  • Promotes focus and concentration

If children are not familiar with Butterfly Pose on the ground, I would first teach it on the ground so they understand how to form the butterfly legs in the hammock by gluing the soles of their feet together and taking their legs out wide.  Additionally, when teaching for the first it helps to place the hammock low to the ground so that if children do fall forward it does not cause injury.  

This pose is contraindicated for children with hip and knee injuries.

What to Say

  • We are going to be butterflies
  • Start with the fabric in front of you.
  • Make the hammock skinny like a jump rope.
  • Step onto the hammock.
  • Bring yourself to a standing position.
  • While standing in the hammock take your legs behind the fabric.
  • Glue the bottoms of your feet together.
  • Start to slide hands down the hammock.
  • Slide into butterfly legs.
  • Knees should be behind the hammock.
  • Reach one arm through and then the other.
  • You are a butterfly!

Want to learn more amazing aerial yoga poses? Join us for a class! We have both online and in person!

The Impact of Spinning on your Child’s Body and Mind

When given free time in the aerial yoga hammock there are two movements children will seek out – spinning and swinging.  Both movements have therapeutic value and children should be allowed to explore the movements their bodies are craving to an extent.

Spinning Playground Equipment

Traditional playgrounds use to house at least one merry-go-round, but modern playgrounds limit spinning equipment due to safety concerns.  Which is sad, as there is a reason merry-go-rounds were one of the most loved pieces of equipment on the playground. Kids. Love. To. Spin!

The pros and cons…

Spinning is a swift whirling motion or rotating rapidly.  Like most intense movements, it has pros and cons. Most children will be able to find the right amount of movement, but some may not be that in tune with their bodies and will go beyond what their brain can handle. Think about the carnival rides that involve spinning, if you spin too long and too fast, the brain will react with dizziness and nausea.  This reaction is the brain protecting itself from too much input. Spinning delivers potent sensory input to the vestibular system that the brain takes in and processes. Thus, children need to be to spin in both directions and to practice other poses in the hammock when you see them spinning too much.

While too much spinning is not good for the brain, some spinning is beneficial.  Spinning positively enhances the vestibular system. It allows children to learn to shift their weight, which is an important component of aerial yoga. Additionally, children learn the cause and effects of motion. 

Here are a few of the benefits of spinning in the aerial yoga hammock:

  • Sensory stimulation: It provides sensory integration in the areas of balance, touch, and feel.
  • Focus and concentration: Focus is improved as both sides of the brain are being used. Vestibular input can also prepare the brain for learning. 
  • Muscle strength: Spinning improves postural control and grip strength. Children have to hang on tight and sit or stand tall or they will fall off the hammock.
  • Kinesthetic awareness: Knowing where they are in space is improved as children must judge how far they are from peers and the ground.
  • Decision-making skills: Children must think while they are in motion and decide how much is the right amount of spinning and figure out how to stop the hammock.

While too much can be detrimental, some spinning is important for development.  The tricky part is every child is different, so there is not a set amount to allow.  Some children can hang upside down and spin in circles rapidly with their eyes closed and not feel any adverse effects, while others can do one rotation and feel nauseous.  Paying careful attention will help you decide how much spinning to allow. When in doubt, limit how much children spin and make sure they spin in both directions.

Mindful Child offers the therapeutic movement your child craves.

If you’d like your child to experience the benefits of therapeutic movements, sign-up for one of our classes. If you live out of town and live classes are not an option, buy a Mindful Child aerial hammock for your home and register for our Online Mindful Child classes. We have lots of aerial yoga options to choose from!

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Relaxation Training Quickly Calms the Body and the Mind

Applied relaxation training brings together a number of evidence-based relaxation techniques. The combined effect of these techniques helps reverse the effects of stress quickly and powerfully. Mindful Child Aerial Yoga classes incorporate a variety of research-backed relaxation exercises to help children calm themselves, when they encounter a stressful situation. For this blog, we will focus on one of our favorites, progressive muscle relaxation.

What is Progressive Relaxation Training?

The technique of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) was developed by Jacobson in 1944. Yes, it has been around a LONG time. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) consists of tensing and relaxing individual muscle groups. It helps children to develop body awareness and teaches them how to release muscle tension. When your child practices PMR exercises, they may start from the top of the body and progress to the bottom, or vice versa depending on the exercise. Progressing through muscle groups sequentially makes it easier for children to follow along.

What are the Benefits?

Progressive Muscle Relaxation helps your child recognize the difference between tension and relaxation in each of the major muscle groups. This relaxation technique develops body awareness and has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and pain.

What does the Research Say?

  • After a 12-week relaxation program, researchers observed significant decreases in young athletes confusion, depression, fatigue, tension, and anger scores. (Hashim, Hanafi, & Yusof, 2011).
  • Thayer, Newman, and McClain (1994) found exercise to be the most effective mood-regulating behavior. However, their research discovered the best strategy to change a bad mood is a combination of relaxation, stress management, cognitive, and exercise techniques. Hmmm…sounds like our aerial yoga classes.
  • Lupen and associates (1976) studied the effect of PMR on hyperactive children. Significant improvements were noted in behavior, attention, concentration, and cognition. Frequency of practice was positively linked with improvement. This means the more the children practiced the more they improved.

Kid’s Aerial Yoga and Progressive Muscle Relaxation

At Mindful Child, we incorporate PMR into our ending relaxation story. We do this in our mindfulness therapeutic sessions and in our aerial yoga classes. PMR is introduced in the aerial hammock, which adds an element of fun to the exercises. PMR does not have to be taught in an aerial yoga hammock to reduce stress, all that is needed is a quiet environment and a comfortable position.

References

Hashim, H. A., & Hanafi Ahmad Yusof, H. (2011). The effects of progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic relaxation on young soccer players’ mood states. Asian journal of sports medicine2(2), 99–105. doi:10.5812/asjsm.34786

Lehrer PM. Varieties of relaxation methods and their unique effects. Int J Stress Manage. 1996;3:1–14. [Google Scholar]

Thayer RE, Newman R, McClain TM. Self-regulation of mood: strategies for changing a bad mood, raising energy, and reducing tension. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994;67:910–25. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Lupen, M., Braud, L., Braud, W, & Derer, W. (1976). Children, parents, and relaxation tapes. Academic Therapy, 12, 105-113

Aerial Yoga Hammock Tips For Home Use

Is your child hooked on our amazing aerial yoga classes?  Are they begging for their own aerial yoga hammock for home use?   If so, this is the blog for you!

Why Buy An Aerial Yoga Hammock?

Aerial yoga gives children the feeling of safe, weightless flight. Participation in an aerial yoga class has a wide range of benefits for children of all ages, such as cognitive, neurological, motor, and developmental.

There are multiple therapeutic and sensory benefits associated with aerial yoga.   Not only is your child having fun, they are strengthening all aspects of their health. Yoga in the aerial hammocks is a great tool to regulate the central nervous system, increase body awareness, and help children become aware of their own social and emotional needs so they can self-regulate their behavior.

What type of aerial yoga hammock is best for my child?

Aerial hammocks are available in single or double point.  Preference is typically individualized as each type of hammock has it’s advantages.

At Mindful Child, we have specially designed our Mindful Child hammocks to move easily from a single point to a double point depending on what poses we are doing. This way we can have the best of both worlds!

Single Point Hammock. The single point allows for lots of spinning and hours of fun and is better suited for children who like fluid movement and spinning.

Double Point Hammock. The double point allows for more stability.  There is a gentle rocking motion, but you do not spin.  The double point is easier to swing in and sway side-to-side.

Swivel. Rotational devices or Swivels are not necessary for Aerial Yoga Hammocks, but they do allow an additional spinning component to single point hammock use.  Swivels also decrease the force placed on the attachment point.

Mindful Child Aerial Yoga uses swivels, while performing single point poses, to allow versatility with hammock use, full movement in all planes, decreased twisting of hammock straps, smoothness with movement and extra fun!   Most kids love how the swivel adds a sense of flow to movement in the hammock and allows a spinning component, but some kids and adults can be overwhelmed by spinning, which can lead to nausea.

Where Should I Buy An Aerial Yoga Hammock?

Not all hammocks are created equal and do not move the same.  We recommend buying hammocks from Mindful Child Aerial Yoga.  Sorry, we are a little bit biased.  Our hammocks are made from the best aerial fabric on the market.  They are strong, soft, and easy to clean!  Mindful Child  fabric has been safety tested to 2,000 pounds.  These aerial hammocks are machine washable and can be placed in the dryer, which is important if you want to kill viruses lurking on the material.

When buying equipment or a hammock make sure you use only high quality, safety rated equipment.  We use Black Diamond safety rated climbing gear.  REI and MooseJaw also provide safety tested equipment.

How Do I Rig A Hammock at Home?

Ceilings vary, which makes it difficult to give advice on how to hang hammocks.  Safety should never be comprised to save a few dollars.  It’s important to have the hammock installed by a licensed contractor that understands aerial rigging.  All hammocks need a strong support beam, a six foot diameter, and padded flooring beneath the hammock.

Once your hammock is installed be prepared for reduced stress, improved happiness and hours spent moving, creating and playing!