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
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This week our camp theme was gratitude. At Camp Gratitude we made mini gratitude journals. When children think of things they are grateful for it activates the calming part of the nervous system. This helps children to feel not only calmer, but happier. With school getting ready to start, now is a perfect time to make the gratitude journal a healthy habit. Every morning, before school, have your child write or draw one thing he is grateful for in a journal or on the bathroom mirror. What a great way for a child to start, not only their day, but their new school year!
Here are a few prompts to get you started. Ask her to write or draw about:
A person you appreciate.
A place that makes you happy.
An item you love (e.g., backpack, waffles, bike).
A skill or ability you are awesome at.
A person who makes you laugh.
Your favorite song.
Something that you accomplished that made you feel good.
A sport or hobby you enjoy.
A pet you love.
A teacher who showed you kindness.
Learning to be grateful helps children to develop executive function skills, which are higher level cognitive skills needed to self-regulate. Being grateful increases mindfulness and compassion for others. Being grateful can shift your child’s mood and enhance her overall well-being.
What to Say
Did you know that practicing being grateful can make you feel happier and healthier?
Each morning think of one thing you are grateful for and write or draw it.
Notice how you feel.
Check out our mini gratitude journal from Camp Gratitude.
Mindful Yoga Memory puts a mindfulness spin on a classic card game. Mindful Memory is simply the original memory card game, but with yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness. Yoga Memory card games can be purchased online or you can easily create your own. To create your own simply buy colored index cards and write, draw, or paste a picture of mindful movement and breathing exercises on one side. Make sure you create two of each card. Place the cards face down in rows. Have each player turn over two cards, looking for two that match. When the match is found, the group should perform that pose or activity. The player gets to keep the match and the player with the most matches wins.
What are the Benefits?
Mindful Yoga Memory helps children develop breath and body awareness while boosting matching, taking turns, social, and memory skills. It also improves flexibility, coordination, executive function, and focus. Mindful memory is a fun way to review mindfulness concepts and poses.
What do I Say?
We are going to play Mindful Yoga Memory! I’m going to mix up the cards and lay them face down in four rows. When it is your turn, flip over any two cards. If the two cards match, keep them and we will do the activity on them. If they don’t match, turn them back over. Try to remember what was on each card and where it was. Also, remember during other people’s turns. Really be mindful and focus your attention on the cards. OK, we found all the matches! Lets count our matches. The player with the most matches wins.
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.
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.
Aerial yoga has the same benefits of typical yoga, but there are also additional sensory, cognitive, and health benefits. Aerial yoga gives the body more room to stretch. Since gravity isn’t an issue the spine is decompressed, muscle tension is released and blood circulation is enhanced.
WHAT IS AERIAL YOGA?
Aerial yoga uses a yoga hammock that is suspended from the ceiling. The material is super stretchy and strong. The instructor helps the student move into different poses much like a typical yoga session only the student is suspended in the air.
HOW IS IT THERAPEUTIC?
Aerial yoga provides a calming sensory experience for children. The therapeutic poses are designed with an emphasis on the central nervous system, which promotes sensory integration and self-regulation.
WHAT ARE THE SENSORY BENEFITS?
Self-Regulation. Inversion is a great tool for self-regulation.
Deep Pressure. The suspended yoga hammock provides deep pressure, which is instantly calming to the central nervous system.
Body Awareness. The hammock promotes motor planning and working memory while engaging in the poses.
Sensory Integration. The hammock provides sensory input in a tranquil, fun, therapeutic environment.
WHAT ARE THE COGNITIVE BENEFITS?
Attention and Focus. Aerial poses require more steps than land-based yoga. Children have to focus, otherwise they fall out of the hammock.
Executive Function. The complex poses require working memory, motor planning and awareness, which are higher level cognitive skills needed to self-regulate behavior.
Aerial yoga improves the ability to be less reactive and more mindful of thoughts and speech.
Reduced academic problems. We are building neuropathways every time we practice a new skill. Thus, in each class, when we practice social emotional learning, mindfulness, and aerial skills we are literally building networks in the brain!
There are a multitude of benefits associated with our style of aerial yoga, so many in fact it will take several blog posts to list them all. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on physical and social emotional benefits.
Sign-up soon. Our classes are so fun and unique they tend to sell out with a wait list. Go us for making yoga and mindfulness so fun we can’t get kids to leave!
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children