Tag Archives: focus

Mindfulness Exercises for Kids

Mindfulness at Mindful Child

As you know there are many ways to practice mindfulness. You can be mindful of what is happening on the inside of your body.  This includes noticing your breath, heartbeat, thoughts, and how you feel.  You can also be mindful of what is happening on the outside of your body such as what you hear, smell, see, taste and feel.  At Mindful Child we explore mindfulness on the inside and outside in all of our classes in many different ways. 

Here are three simple ways to explore mindfulness:

  1. Feel your breath. One of the most powerful mindfulness tools is our breath.  Our bodies can breathe in lots of different ways and how we breathe can affect how we feel.  Closing your eyes and noticing how you are breathing can tell you how you are feeling in your body. 
  2. Engage your senses.  Take a walk through your house. While you are walking pay attention to your five senses (touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing).  Notice the sounds you hear. Can you hear three different sounds? Take a deep breath, what do you smell? Can you find all the colors of the rainbow? Touch a few objects. What do you notice?
  3. Scan it.  A body scan can help you become aware of what is happening in your body and release stress.  Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath in.  Let it out.  Imagine a scanner is slowly moving up your body.  Let your body feel heavy and relaxed as the scanner moves gently over your body. Open your eyes.  What did the scanner notice?

Science tells us the more we explore mindfulness the more calming brain chemicals our body makes. Try different activities to determine which engage your child.  Need more ideas?  Join us for our Mindful Child Teacher Training this summer. 

Benefits of a Climbing Wall

Climbing Wall

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…
Growth Mindset

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. 

References

Alloway, R. G., & Alloway, T. P. (2015). The Working Memory Benefits of Proprioceptively Demanding Training: A Pilot Study. Perceptual and Motor Skills120(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 Skills126(3), 477–498. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512519836811

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.

Yogi Says Game

Yogi Says game at Mindful Child

What is the Yogi Says Game?

For this game, gather a group of a least four players, the bigger the group the better. It is played similar to “Simon Says,” but you say “Yogi Says” instead of “Simon Says” and your commands are related to yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness. Explain to children that a yogi is someone who practices yoga. The players must do whatever yogi tells them, but only when he says “Yogi Says…” before the exercise. Otherwise the player is out. Allow children to take turns being the yogi. Like the majority of our games, it can be played on the ground, in an aerial hammock, or both.

Benefits

  • Encourages yoga pose review & practice
  • Improves mood
  • Increases memory skills
  • Promotes focus and concentration
  • Enhances listening skills
  • Increase motor coordination
  • Helps with sequencing and executive function

What to Say

  • We are going play a game called Yogi Says!   
  • I am going to be “Yogi”
  • If I say “Yogi says” before an activity, you do the activity, but if I don’t say “Yogi says” you do not do the pose or activity.
  • For example, when I say “Yogi says do Goddess Pose!” climb up to Goddess Pose.
  • If I don’t say “Yogi says,” and you do the pose you will be out.

Games are an important part of any kid’s yoga class and some of our most beloved childhood games have therapeutic benefits. Yogi Says is a simple and fun activity that requires no materials. It is the perfect game to address a variety of skills such as sequencing and motor coordination to help with your child’s development. We have a variety of classes and camps full of therapeutic benefits. Come hang out with us!

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!

Energizing Breathing Exercise for Focus

Dragon Breathing Exercise

Dragon Breath is an energizing breathing exercise similar to Standing Deep Breathing Pose in hot yoga. Deep Breathing Pose is a breathing technique done at the beginning of a hot yoga class to help improve focus while practicing balancing poses.

Dragon Breath is free and takes little time, which makes it a perfect brain break during virtual school. It will enhance your child’s focus and wake up the mind before tackling that next assignment.

Benefits of Energizing Breathing Exercises

Dragon Breath improves focus and attention. Deep breathing transfers oxygen to muscles and organs such as the brain, and nervous system priming the brain for learning. Deep breathing promotes mindfulness and overall well-being. Being a dragon enhances visualization and imagination.

What to Say

  • Interlace all 10 fingers, glue knuckles under the chin.
  • Bring elbows together.
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • Keep knuckles glued to the chin.
  • Begin floating elbows up like dragon wings by ears.
  • Tilt head back and breathe fire out through your mouth.

Add A Yoga Pose

To enhance the benefits of this energizing breathing exercise, couple Dragon Breath with a Dragon Pose or have children create their own Dragon Pose. Want to learn more ways to teach children to breathe and be mindful? Check out our Mindful Child Online Teacher Training

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!

Growth Mindset Game

Teaching kids to have a growth mindset can be tricky.  After all just telling kids to have a growth mindset usually doesn’t work. Instead, teach them that the brain is a muscle that can get stronger and change with challenging tasks.   Emphasize the importance of hard work and problem-solving.

Games are a great way to teach tricky concepts to kids.  Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset adds yoga and a mindset twist on a classic game, Red Light, Green Light.  Before you begin the game, provide an explanation of a fixed and growth mindset.  A fixed mindset avoids challenges and assumes that abilities are fixed, frozen or unchanging.  A growth mindset enjoys a challenge and sees failures as a way to learn and grow. 

How to Play the Growth Mindset Game

Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset is best played with four or more players, ages six and older. The leader stands at the front of the room.  When she says, “Growth Mindset” players slowly move and grow toward the leader. When she says, “Fixed Mindset” players freeze in place in a yoga pose. The yoga pose can be predetermined by the leader or freestyle where players choose their own. The player who makes it to the leader first is the winner.

What are the Benefits?

Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset builds executive function through play. Executive function plays a fundamental role in emotion regulation and impulse control. It helps kids reflect before they react. The growth mindset game also provides yoga pose review and enhances focus.

In summary, games are a great way to build self-regulation skills. For more movement ideas to support your child’s social and emotional development sign up for an aerial yoga class or our Mindful Child Teacher Training.

Happy Mindfulness Game

Happy Mindfulness Game

Materials

  • Bingo stamper
  • Printed page of emojis

What is Happy Stamp?

Happy stamp is a simple visual scanning game. Google emojis on your computer.  Lots of images will come up.  Pick an image with multiple emojis and print it.  Emoji stickers are also available on Amazon. Put the stickers on a blank piece of paper or card stock and make copies of it. Then give your child a bingo stamper and ask them to find happy emojis.

What are the Benefits?

Happy stamp improves visual discrimination.  Children must be mindful or they may stamp the wrong emotion.  It also improves fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.

What to Say

We are going to find all the happy emojis on this page.  When you see a happy emoji we are going to stamp it. Remember we are only stamping the happy ones!

Mindfulness Challenge:

A variation of this game for older children is to color all the O’s on a newspaper page or poke holes with a toothpick through the O’s.

Want to learn more amazing mindfulness games? Join us for class or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Children.

MindFOLD Origami Butterfly

Mindfulness

Materials

  • Origami Paper
  • Ambient Music

What is MindFOLD Butterfly?

Do you remember making paper creations as a child? Once you learned the initial folds the practice of folding the paper became calming and meditative.  Origami is a peaceful art activity that can promote mindfulness in the form of a focused attention meditation. Focus is required to fold the paper correctly and your child’s sense of touch is activated keeping him engaged as he makes the folds.   There is also the intrinsic reward of making something wonderful out of an ordinary piece of paper. 

What are the Benefits?

Mindfold Butterfly helps children build patience, focus, and concentration.  Mindfold Butterfly also enhances relaxation and eye hand coordination. This activity improves executive functioning skills and mindful awareness. 

What to Say.

Let’s make a mindfold origami butterfly. Origami is an art activity where you fold paper to make amazing mindful creations. Remember to breathe in and out through your nose and really focus on your folds.  Sometimes origami can be tricky if you haven’t done it before so we need to really engage all of our senses and be mindful. Remember to use kind words to yourself and keep trying even though it may be a little challenging.  I’m going to play some music while we fold. 

These are the steps to mindfully fold your paper:

  • Fold your origami paper in half (vertically). Then unfold it.  Make sure there is a crease
  • Next, fold the paper in half (horizontally). Then unfold it. 
  • Fold the top left point down to meet the bottom right point of the paper. It is a diagonal fold (making a triangle).  Then unfold it.
  • Fold the top right point down to meet the bottom left point of the paper. It is a diagonal fold (making a triangle).  Then unfold it.
  • Bring the two middle folds together (right and left middle of paper) and the paper will fold in to itself making a triangle.
  • Turn the triangle upside down.   
  • Take the right corner and fold it in to make triangle.  Take the left corner and do the same thing.  The straight edges from the top should line up to make a diamond.  
  • Turn it over so the triangle point is at the top and fold the bottom of the triangle up. 
  • Tuck the tip that sticks out over the top down to make the head, but only do the top piece of paper. Turn it over.   Unfold the triangle to make your bottom wings. 
Origami Butterfly

Behold your beautiful butterfly! Want to learn more ways to practice mindfulness? Sign-up for a Mindful Child camp! Camps are full of mindfulness and FUN!

Parents, if you need a visual step-by-step guide this YouTube tutorial will show you the origami butterfly folding steps.