Tag Archives: aerial yoga

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!

 

Four Ways to Reduce ADHD Symptoms

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex disorder that can affect individuals across the lifespan. In recent years, ADHD has been on the rise in children. Neuroscience has shown us that Dopamine, a neurotransmitter important in mood regulation, is lower in the brains of children with ADHD. Additionally, the brains of individuals with ADHD are structurally different with reduced volume in regions responsible for focus and attention such as the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.

The good news is…

The good news is the brain has neuroplasticity, which means that it can grow and change with stimulation and the right nutrient intake.

Enhance your child’s well-being using these strategies:

  1. Limit processed foods. Children should eat real, whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  Whole foods are full of nutrients that your child’s brain and body needs to function correctly.  A whole food diet can aid in neurotransmitter production, cognition, and enhance health.  You do not need to eliminate all packaged and processed foods, but significantly reducing processed foods is the best thing you can do for your child’s health.
  2. Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is harmful to all kids, but it is especially harmful to those with ADHD. Research has found that sugar can dysregulate levels of dopamine, which are already lower in children with ADHD. Added sugar, that is processed and doesn’t occur naturally in whole foods such as fruits, is harmful to the brain and body. One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons or more of added sugar, which is more than the daily minimum, not to mention the other harmful artificial ingredients such corn syrup.
  3. Load up on healthy fats. Healthy fats are good for the brain and nervous system because both, are mostly made up of fats. Omega-3s are an example of healthy fats that reduce inflammation. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, salmon, and avocados. These fats keep your child’s brain healthy by helping neurotransmitters function properly.
  4. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps dopamine functioning. It is not only important for physical health, but mental health as well. Movement promotes the release of “feel good chemicals” such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Our favorite form of exercise is aerial yoga. Other forms of exercise such as running, biking, swimming and karate are also good for the brain and body.
  5. Be Mindful. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose. When your child practices mindfulness it trains their brain to slow down and focus.

In Summary,

If your child has ADHD, you can reduce symptoms naturally by exercising regularly, eating healthy fats, reducing sugar, practicing mindfulness, and limiting processed foods.

References

Schnoll R, Burshteyn D, Cea-Aravena J. Nutrition in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a neglected but important aspect. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2003;28:63–75. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Kim WK, Cho S. Sugar and cognitive performance. Korean J Nutr. 2007;40(Suppl):50–65. [Google Scholar]

Christiansen, L., Beck, M. M., Bilenberg, N., Wienecke, J., Astrup, A., & Lundbye-Jensen, J. (2019). Effects of Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Children and Adolescents with ADHD: Potential Mechanisms and Evidence-based Recommendations. Journal of clinical medicine8(6), 841. doi:10.3390/jcm8060841

Health Benefits of Summer Camps

Kid’s today face daily stresses on the mind and body. Summer camps are a great way for kids to unplug from technology, reduce stress and enhance physical and mental health. Way to go summer camps!

Here are some of the recognized benefits that our yoga + mindfulness summer camps can provide your child:

  • Boosts Brain Power! Science tells us yoga and mindfulness can promote healthy brain development and boost resilience.
  • Builds Life Skills. Yoga and mindfulness helps children learn self-control, kindness, gratitude, patience, and other important life skills.
  • Cultivates Learning. Children need to move to learn. Cross-lateral movements integrate both sides of the brain, which enhances learning.
  • Reduces Stress. Mindfulness teaches kids to be less reactive to daily stressors. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is quick way to calm the nervous system. The best part is kids can do it anytime and anywhere.
  • Promotes Strength and Flexibility. All of your child’s bodily systems are supported by movement. Yoga strengthens and stretches your child’s entire body.
  • Inspires Happiness. Research tells us a consistent yoga and mindfulness practice produces GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that plays in an important part in your child’s mental health. Increased GABA leads to feelings of relaxation and happiness. Yay GABA!

This blog focuses on the benefits of our Mindful Child camps, but camps, in general, are a wonderful way to promote health and reduce screen time. Regardless of the camp you choose, most summer camps have many character building experiences and offer exercises that build confidence and self-esteem. They are also a great way to explore different hobbies without a long term commitment.

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.

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]

 

 

What is AntiGravity Aerial Yoga?

Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is officially a licensed AntiGravity studio!  This means our instructors have completed AntiGravity training , we use Harrison AntiGravity Hammocks, and  we meet the safety standards associated with being an AntiGravity studio.

What is AntiGravity Aerial Yoga?

AntiGravity is an aerial yoga fitness technique designed to improve one’s health and fitness while having FUN!  AntiGravity uses the Harrison AntiGravity Hammock as a yoga prop to support you as you learn aerial yoga techniques and inversions.  This unique combination of exercises is intended to decompress your spine and align the body while stretching and strengthening your muscles.  Seriously?  What more could you ask for in a fitness class!

Who is Christopher Harrison?

AntiGravity was founded by Christopher Harrison.  He is a former Broadway dancer and world-class competitive gymnastics specialist.  At the age of 20 he suffered a major injury that required eight surgeries to reconstruct his knees.   Christopher Harrison spent the next two years rehabilitating himself through rigorous physical therapy and Pilates.  His resilience led him to discover, “In life, hidden in the forces that pull us down is the energy to lift us.” In the early 90’s he created AntiGravity, the first aerial yoga practice!

What are the benefits of AntiGravity?

AntiGravity has many beneficial effects on overall health in adults and children.  Christopher Harrison personally guarantees: If you can “suspend your disbelief: I guarantee I can make you healthier, happier, and taller, in just one session.

Here are a some of the recognized benefits of a regular AntiGravity practice:

  • Increased muscular flexibility
  • Muscular tension release through self-massage techniques
  • Core strengthening
  • Upper and lower body strengthening
  • Increased joint mobility
  • Self-esteem enhancement through the process of conquering basic fears
  • Enhanced mindfulness
  • Decompression and re-aligning of the spine
  • Refreshes the endocrine, lymphatic, digestive, and circulatory systems
  • Releases “happy hormones” such as dopamine and serotonin
  • Increases neuroplasticity of the brain (creating new brain pathways)
  • Glowing skin: inversions enhance one’s complexion

These are just a few of the many benefits of AntiGravity.  While it is great read about the benefits the true magic is in experiencing them first hand.  Join us a for a class!  After all, who doesn’t want to be healthier, happier, and taller?!?

 

 

 

Kindness for Happier, Healthier Kids

Kindness can boost happiness, resilience, and the immune system.

Kindness is being friendly, generous, and considerate. Small acts of kindness have a powerful impact on others.  Science demonstrates that completing kind acts, even if it’s as simple as smiling at a friend, can boost happiness.  This means being kind is contagious, when your child does a kind act for someone it leads to them doing another kind act. Research indicates random acts of kindness can lift your child’s mood, reduce stress, and build the immune system.

Our first rule in aerial yoga classes is to be kind. We teach kids to not only be kind to others, but to the environment, and to themselves.  Cultivating kindness helps your child develop social and emotional skills, confidence, and resilience.  When a child becomes more aware of their own kind behavior it improves their overall well-being.

Three Ways to Teach Kindness to Children:

  1. Read About It. There are several books that teach kindness to young children and stories are a great way for children to learn social emotional skills.  “Have you Filled a Bucket Today” is a story that demonstrates how kindness can fill buckets and make others feel good.
  2. Sign-Up for a Random Acts of Kindness Challenge. Scientists have shown that doing random acts of kindness for two minutes a day can train your brain to be more positive. Kindness challenges can be downloaded for free online.
  3. Kindness Coins. Kindness coins can be purchased inexpensively online. Kindness coins help children build compassion and empathy. They also reinforce positive behavior and kids love them!

Kindness, takes practice, which is why we make it a rule.   Being kind can be taught in the home, classroom or even during an aerial yoga class.  it can be simple and only take a few minutes, but it is important to build it into your child’s day.

References

Kathryn E. Buchanan & Anat Bardi (2010) Acts of Kindness and Acts of Novelty Affect Life Satisfaction, The Journal of Social Psychology, 150:3, 235-237, DOI: 10.1080/00224540903365554
Isen, A. M., & Levin, P. F. (1972). Effect of feeling good on helping: Cookies and kindness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21, 384–388.

Mindfulness + Aerial Yoga Improve Executive Functioning

What is Executive Functioning?

Executive function is a term for the cognitive-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation. It involves working memory, perspective taking, decision making, emotional regulation, problem-solving, planning, and impulse control.  Wow.  Executive functioning is pretty important!  So important, in fact that it provides the foundation for all educational and social activities. This means executive functioning is something your child needs to successfully navigate life.

When children are under stress it is harder for them to make wise decisions. Chronic stress impairs executive function, which can lead to problems with learning, memory impairment, and behavior issues. The good news is mindfulness and aerial yoga significantly reduce stress and enhance executive functioning.  Way to go yoga and mindfulness!

How does Mindfulness Help?

Science has proved that with mindfulness, executive functioning is strengthened. A repeated mindfulness practice actually builds neural pathways in the brain. A consistent mindfulness practice changes neural pathways to neural superhighways, making it more accessible to children in times of stress bolstering their executive functioning.

What are the Benefits of Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga?

Mindfulness and aerial yoga improve working memory (temporary storage and managing of information to carry out cognitive tasks).  Research shows that mindfulness and aerial yoga teaches children to reflect before they react, which, in turn, reduces impulsive actions.  Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga, the Mindful Child way, builds emotional intelligence (ability to notice and manage your own emotions). Once children are more aware of their emotions they are better able to regulate them. Mindful Child teaches mindfulness in a fun, play-based manner that kid loves.

What are you waiting for… Sign-up here!

References

Van de Hurk, P.A.M., Giommi, F., Gielen, S.C., Speckens, A.E.M., & Barendregt, H.P. (2010). Greater efficiency in attentional processing related to mindfulness meditation. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63 (6), 1168

Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., . . . Posner, M. I. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (43), 1, 17152 -17156.

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…