Tag Archives: kids yoga

Brain-Focused Strategies for Focus

Kid’s Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga

Focus is defined as the center of interest or activity. Focusing your attention on what is happening in the moment is part of being mindful. A easy way for children to improve attention is by focusing on their bodies. Brain-based strategies encourage children to notice their breath and heartbeat, and pay attention to how it changes during and after movement. Learning to notice these internal changes will help enhance focus and resilience.

Four Brain-Based Strategies to Improve Focus

  • Breath Work. Teaching children to control their breath can help them become less reactive when feeling anxious or stressed. Paying attention to breathing also supports functioning in the higher brain regions responsible for cognitive processing, such as the prefrontal cortex. A one minute breathing practice can prime the brain for learning!
  • Yoga. Yoga poses, especially balancing poses require concentration and strength. Paying attention to the sensations in the body, whether active or moving, is an important step in enhancing mindful awareness.
  • Mindfulness. For children, mindfulness is defined as the practice of paying attention, with the senses. Mindfulness fosters the ability to become more connected to the body and mind, which improves awareness and focus.
  • Guided Relaxation. Relaxation stories calm the body and mind. They encourage a healthy imagination and develop body awareness. Not able to come up stories on your own? Stress Free Kids is a great website for relaxation stories.

In Summary,

At Mindful Child, we combine social and emotional learning with aerial yoga to teach children self-control. We use brain-based strategies to help children deepen their understanding of their own mental processes. When children are aware of their brain-body connection they are more resilient, confident, and focused. Neuroscience tells us that practicing brain-based activities will enhance receptivity to learning in both academic and social-emotional areas.

Mindfulness Sequence for Reducing Stress

kids mindfulness kansas city

Children are faced with many stressors, such as friends, homework, school, and inadequate sleep. This mindful yoga sequence emphasizes stress reduction to create a sense of calm, while enhancing mindful awareness, focus, and executive functioning.

Begin with Mindful Yoga Breathing

Lay down on your back. Close your eyes, place one hand on your heart and one on your lower belly. Bring the soles of your feet together to form butterfly legs. Notice your heartbeat and breath. Take ten deep breaths in and out through the nose. Fill your hands go up as you breathe in and down as your breathe out.

Add Some Mindful Yoga Movement

Stand up in Mountain Pose and move through a slow sun salutation three times. Breathe deeply in and out through the nose. Take a few extra breaths in inversions such as Forward Fold and Down Dog Pose. When your head is upside down it is calming to the nervous system.

More Mindfulness

Choose a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths to settle in. Stare at an object you’ve chosen such as a visual timer. Let it fill up your gaze and mind. Tune everything else out. When your mind starts to wander, notice it, and bring it back. When your timer ends, close your eyes and try to keep the object you have been gazing at fixed in your mind. Take a few deep breaths, and when you are ready open your eyes.

End with a Relaxation Story

Find a comfortable position. Place an eye pillow with Young Living lavender essential oil over your eyes. Read one of the relaxation stories from Mindfulness for Children, to your child or make up your own. Try to include progressive muscle relaxation in your story. After your mindfulness practice reflect on the experience with your child. Have them notice how they feel and ask what they enjoyed with most. This will broaden your awareness of the activities that resonated with your child.

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!

 

Boat Pose

Pretending to be a boat is an amazing way for your child to build strength and stamina. When you add rowing and singing, your child’s brain is being stimulated, too. Want more of a challenge? Add a partner!

What are the Benefits?

Boat Pose strengthens the core, which is fundamental to all movement and to learning, because children will begin sitting up straight at their desks instead of slumping. It stretches the hamstrings and improves digestion. Not to mention that it is also fun to do!

What to Say

  • Did you know your core or tummy muscles are what help you sit up tall so you can learn? We are going to make those muscles strong by making our bodies into boats.
  • Sit with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Place your hands underneath your knees. Lift your feet off the floor, like the prow of a boat. Let go of your knees and hold out your arms alongside your knees. Lean backward a bit to find your balance.
  • As you imagine your boat gliding down the stream, place your palms together in front of your heart. Be a peaceful, mindful boat. Close your eyes. What do you feel?

Mindfulness Challenge

For an extra challenge, make it a partner pose. Partner boat is great for enhancing social skills and teamwork. If partners don’t work together to create a strong boat it will sink!

Mindfulness Variation

For young children or children with special needs, play a recording or sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Tell the children, “As you sing, paddle your boat down the stream by bringing your arms to one side and then the other. Sing the song as many times as you can!”

Want to learn more? Join us this summer for our mindful child yoga teacher training!

Curious George Yoga

Books are a great way to teach children yoga and mindfulness. Children love Curious George because he is always on the move and getting into mischief. Read a short story such as Curious George by H.A. Rey and infuse it with yoga, breath work, and mindfulness. At the end of the story give your child a “pop quiz” on the content. Have them show you the yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness activities they remember, as they explain what happened in the story. 

For inspiration, here is a list of ideas from my book, Mindfulness for Children, to incorporate into Curious George:

  • Butterfly Breath (page 4)
  • Fruit Roll-Up (page 10)
  • Boat Pose (page 12)
  • Eagle Pose (page 16)
  • Fish Pose (page 22)
  • Cross Crawls (page 22)
  • Mummy Pose with Counting Breath (page 28)
  • Child’s Pose (page 38)
  • Cat/Cow Pose (page 42)
  • Balloon Breath (page 44)
  • Down Dog (page 44)
  • Tree Pose (page 54)
  • Lion’s Pose/Breath (page 54)

What are the Benefits?

Curious George Yoga enhances creativity, focus, and attention. It builds working memory and concentration, development of logic, and mindfulness. Reading Curious and doing the above poses promotes yoga pose practice and review. 

What to Say.

We are going to read a story about Curious George.  Curious George is always very curious and sometimes it is hard for him to stay out of trouble.  As we read the story we will engage in mindfulness and movement activities.  Sit up tall in Easy Seated Pose.  Ready?  Let’s begin.

Brain Challenge

After children have reenacted the story have them take it a step further by asking them what they think happened after the story.  Have your child show you what happened next with movement, breath, and mindfulness.

Mindful Nature Walk

What is Mindful Nature Walk?

Nature Walk is taking a walk with your child; however, he pretends he is walking in the wilderness. While on the walk your child will notice all the wildlife on the walk. The goal is to notice as many details about the birds, insects and other animals as they can. Giving your child a magnifying glass or binoculars really allows them to see bugs and birds up close and notice details they may have missed in the past.

What are the Benefits?

Nature Walk builds visual memory and visual observation skills. It helps children focus their attention and concentrate.Wildlife walk promotes mindful awareness and mindful movement.

What to Say.

  • Let’s go on a wildlife walk! As we walk through the wilderness we want to remain quiet and mindful. We will walk slowly so we don’t miss anything.
  • Turn your senses on high and notice all the birds, bugs and wildlife that you can. Remember we are always kind to our environment. Just notice the wildlife, don’t interact with it.
  • Use your magnifying glass or binoculars to watch the wildlife in silence and notice what it sounds like, how it moves, and what colors you see.
  • Afterward we will draw what we’ve observed so really pay attention and watch all the insects, animals, and birds that you find. Reflect on the Wildlife Walk by asking, “Was it hard to focus on just one thing? Which details were easier to remember? Did you notice something that you haven’t noticed before? What helped you keep your focus?”

Mindfulness Challenge

For older children, search for objects in nature to explore as well. Have them notice what it looks like, smells like, how it feels, and if it makes a sound. Ask them to remember as many details as possible. When you return from the walk ask your child to write down all the details they remember and reflect on the experience. Discuss ways mindful seeing connects to real life. You may ask, “How does mindful seeing help someone who has seen an accident? How does being mindful help you at school? What are jobs that require mindful seeing and memory skills?”

Want to learn more? Join us for our kid’s yoga and mindfulness teacher training this summer!

A Mindfulness Activity to Improve Your Child’s Well-Being

What is Take Flight?

This mindfulness activity requires visualization and a good imagination.  Have your child imagine they are bird in flight.  As he is flying over the earth, ask your child to look down on all the things he is grateful for.  Next, have your child draw a picture of the bird flying over all the wonderful things he has to grateful for in his life. 

What are the benefits?

Visualization coupled with gratitude is a powerful combination to shift a negative mood to a positive mood.  Take flight is relaxing, enhances well-being, and encourages mindful reflection. 

What to Say.

Lay down in a comfortable position such as Corpse or Mummy Pose.  Close your eyes.  Let’s take a couple Elevator Breaths.  Imagine you’re a bird.  Think of what your bird looks like.  In your mind, form a picture of your bird.  Is he a small bird or a majestic eagle?  What color is your bird?  Now imagine that your bird has taken flight and is flying over the earth.  Your bird looks down and sees all the things you are thankful for.  Breathe in and out through your nose.  What does your bird see?  Picture the things that you are grateful for as your bird fly’s high overhead.  Remember to keep breathing in and out through your nose, as you picture your bird flying.  Slowly open your eyes and come to an Easy Seated position.  We are going to draw a picture that shows what your bird saw when he was flying. You can even add your bird flying over ahead.  Ready?  Let’s draw!

Want to learn more ways to help your child be mindful? Sign up for a workshop, yoga teachertraining, or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Daniel, T., (2018). Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids Avon, MA: Adams Media

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.

Release Feelings of Well-Being With Fish Pose

What is Fish Pose?

Fish Pose is a graceful, but powerful back bend.  The gentle bend of the chest mimics the rounded back of a fish. Fish Pose can give relief to symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.  Young children or children with special needs may find fish pose challenging to get into, but it can be easily modified by having them lay on a small child bolster, rolled up mat, or blanket to provide the same benefits.

What are the benefits?

The opening of the chest, opens the heart releasing feelings of positivity and well-being. Fish pose reduces chest disorders and promotes a healthy heart. This pose can stimulate the thyroid, which increases metabolism.

What to Say.

We are going to be a fish! Lay on your back. Bring your knees into your heart center. Straighten your legs and glue them together. Slide your hands under your tail. Bring them close together with palms facing down. As you breathe in, push your elbows down. Point toes. Come onto the crown of your head. You are a fish! Take five deep breaths. Slowly release to the floor. Hug your hands around the knees or under the knees, bring them into the heart center. Rock and roll a few times side to side. Ah…feels good!

Want to learn more ways to help children be mindful?  Sign up for  Mindful Child Teacher Training or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Reference

Daniel, T., Mindfulness for Children. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2018

Finding Balance

Balancing poses help children focus, be mindful, and feel grounded.

What is Finding Balance?

Finding Balance is a flow between balancing poses. Before children engage in Finding Balance they need to be familiar with balancing poses such as tree and airplane pose. Balancing poses are an integral part of children’s yoga and are great for building focus in children. As children move through this balancing flow they experience a calm awareness in which attention and concentration are enhanced.

What are the Benefits?

Balance poses increase focus, strength, and help children feel grounded. Balancing poses require children to be fully present or they fall over, which makes them great for present moment awareness.

What to Say.

Let’s stand together in Mountain Pose. Take three deep balloon breaths. Now shift your weight into your right foot and come into Tree Pose. Take three deep breaths as a tree. Now, let’s gently kick our leg back into Airplane Pose. Try not to let your foot touch the ground as you move to Airplane Pose. Take three deep breaths. Let’s see if we can move back to Tree Pose without falling or touching the ground. Great! You did it! What amazing focus. Let’s do the same flow, but on the other foot. Ready?…