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…
“I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is characterized by stopping, paying attention on purpose, peace, and compassion Mindfulness is a way of looking at experiences with emotional balance and compassion for self and others.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Mindfulness gives the individual a way to deal with negative experiences. More intimate connections with others are accomplished and regrets are not focused on. Mindfulness enhances physical health by decreasing stress, blood pressure, pain, and improving the quality of sleep. Mindfulness can supplement mental health treatments by improving symptoms related to depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Siegel (1999) reports that the structures and functions of are brain are molded by interpersonal experiences. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve neural growth in the brain. The more you engage in an activity the better the body will become at doing it due to this neural growth; therefore, it is important to engage in mindfulness daily.
Stress comes from contemplating about the past or worrying about the future. Living your life in the current moment and focusing your attention on the activity you are doing at the moment does not leave space for other things to invade your thoughts, such as fears, worries or anything that may be stressful. When meditating, your attention is on the meditation object, which may be your breath or mantra. This focus allows your mind to quiet and to be fully present in the moment. Performing activities such as schoolwork with mindfulness leads to improved outcomes. Not only is stress and worry decreased, focus is improved.
HOW DO I TEACH IT TO MY CHILD?
Teaching children mindfulness can be tricky. After all the art of doing nothing is hard to learn in our frantic society. A simple way to demonstrate mindfulness to children is to show them how to check in with their breath. Props such as stuffed animals or hoberman spheres can be used. Children love to pretend the props are riding the breath on their tummies. Also, there are several books that introduce mindfulness. One of my favorites is “Peaceful Piggy Meditation. ” So spend a few minutes at the end of the day being mindful, and before you know it you will have a mindful child.
This is a great routine for children with sensory processing disorder.
Before starting the space adventure to the galaxy of calm. Have children put their mats in a circle. Start class with yoga rules, terms, and discussion of breathing through the nose.
Mountain Pose – Take a deep breath sweeping arms up as you inhale and slowly bring hands together at heart center while exhaling (Repeat x 3)
Climbing Space Ship Ladder. Cross crawls from Brain Gym – lift left leg and tap it with right hand. Now lift right leg and tap it with left hand. Cross crawls balance brain hemispheres and are great for neurological growth. If this is too difficult either help the child cross midline or have them tap right to right then left to left. Continue for 1 to 2 minutes.
Blast Off. Rev up the engine of the space ship – run in place and then sweep the arms wide while inhaling, as exhale bring the hands to the heart center and sit back in chair pose. Next, jump up as if blasting into outer space. Oh we didn’t quite make it – let’s rev our engines and try again. This time have children run to the back of their mats and then up to the front (Repeat x3)
Crescent Moon – We finally made it to outer space. Lets circle the moon. Inhale as lift the left hand toward the sky keeping right hand on thigh. Switch sides after 3 breaths.
Hello Mr. Sun (Sunshine stretch). Start in mountain or standing position, bend forward with arms hanging down. Shake head yes and no. Shaking the head relieves tension. Plant hands, take right foot back, then left foot for plank, pull elbows in and slowly lower to floor. Inhale as lie on belly with your hands on the floor under your shoulders. HISS on the exhale as you push up to cobra x3, tuck toes and push up to down dog, wag your tail, you’re a happy dog (Repeat entire stretch x3)
Space Suit – Bring hands overhead and interlace to make space helmet. Firmly plant right foot. Bring left foot up with knee bent. After finding balance have leg make figure 8’s in the air to insert it firmly in the space suit. Repeat on opposite leg.
Land on Saturn – Remain in standing position, plant feet with arms straight at sides twist from the waist to make Saturn’s rings.
Warrior II –The aliens are coming – Step back wide, with arms floating down to shoulder height, gaze out over front fingers, while keeping the front knee bent, make sure you can see your big toe.
Falling Stars (Moon flowers) Spread feet wide with toes out and heels in, as we come into a squat. On the inhale will shoot the stars (hands) up into space. On exhale, the stars (hands) will fall, draw elbows into ribs while in a squat. (10 breaths)
Warrior II – opposite side
Moon dust to hide from aliens (Sunflowers) Take a deep breath while sweeping arms up, slightly hinging while exhaling and moving arms toward the floor to pick up the space dust and throw it over our heads. (10 breaths)
Fold forward, step back to down dog, child’s pose – need a break to calm the nervous system after dealing with aliens, (5 breaths)
Star – Interlace hands on top of head elbows spread wide. Lets be a falling star, slowly bend forward.
Superman- lets fly through space with our rocket packs.
Rocket ship home – (camel) with palms of hands together to mimic a rocket ship.
Need to wash the space suit due to all the moon dust (Washer). Sit up tall in easy seated position, bend forward placing hands on the ground to put the suit in the washer, then place hands on shoulders and twist from waist with tail bone remaining planted. Make washer noises.
Dryer – Easy seated position , roll hands in front of chest and make drying noise.
Do a seated twist to squeeze out the remaining space dust.
Oh no! A meteor followed us home! Have children lay very still, eyes closed, on their stomachs, breathing deeply from the belly. Roll over children with exercise ball while slightly applying pressure. This provides proprioceptive input and is very calming. I play the “Star Wars” theme song during this time. Little boys love it!
Have class roll over to back for 1 minute and continue to breath deeply.
Wake up Sequence
Meteor roll –grab behind knees and gently rock side to side.
Space stretch – pull knees into chest, then let fall to right, hands stretched out wide in T position. Repeat on opposite side.
Cricket – rub hands and soles of feet together to wake up nerve endings. Have children place hands over their eyes to feel the good energy created.
Space Juice (sesame or jojoba oil, lavender, tea tree oil) – Ask about allergies. Lavender is calming to the central nervous system. Have children sit with legs crossed and palms of hands facing up. Squirt space juice in their hands and have them rub their hands together. When everyone has space juice have class take a deep breath together while sweeping hands up, exhale while slowly lowering hands in front of nose. Inhale several times before dropping hands to heart center and ending with the magic yoga words – Namaste.
Pranayama practice – with the lights off have the class lay on their backs. Give each child a hoberman sphere that glows in the dark. Have children practice making their bellies get big on the inhale as they pull the sphere outward. On the exhale have them shrink the sphere. Do this for several breaths. Next have the children put the sphere on their bellies and see how many breaths they can keep the sphere on before it rolls off.
Musical mats – place mats in circle, take one mat away. Place yoga cards in front of the mats. When the music plays have children dance and walk in a circle, when the music stops they must find a mat and complete the yoga pose on the card on both sides. The child who didn’t find a mat becomes the yoga assistant and starts the music for another round. One of my favorite songs to use is “Hip Hop Yoga Bop.”
Make rocket ships out of popsicle sticks, watermelon (in triangle at top), and bananas (at bottom). Kids love them and they are easy to clean up.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children