Tag Archives: mindful child wellness

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

Ball Pit Benefits

Children love ball pits; however, it seems like a weird addition to an aerial yoga studio, right? Ball pits offer children opportunities to jump, swim, and hide.  This fun sensory experience also has multiple therapeutic benefits and is a great addition to kid’s yoga classes.

Mindfulness.  Ball pits offer opportunities to practice mindfulness.   Hide a few smaller balls and have children use their tactile and visual skills to find the balls. This activity improves focus and concentration.

Cooperative Play.  Ball pits can also encourage cooperative play and social skills when two children are working on an activity in the ball pit together.

Eye-Hand Coordination.  If balls roll out of the ball pit then children are able to work on eye-hand coordination by throwing the balls back into the pit.

Relaxation. The ball pit at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is made of soft material that offers a quiet place to breathe and be calm.  Children love when we incorporate it into a sensory station.

Ball pits are a fantastic therapeutic tools to work on body awareness, motor planning, proprioception, and tactile input.  Ball pits can provide endless therapeutic benefits!  Children have the opportunity to exercise their sensory system all while being mindful, relaxed and most importantly, having FUN.

 

Acupuncture for Improved Health

Acupuncture can enhance the immune system and help with symptom reduction in a variety of disorders in both children and adults. With allergies and back to school illnesses lurking in the air, acupuncture is an effective, research-based alternative to anti-inflammatory medications.

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture is a type of physical stimulation, which means it irritates body tissue to ease symptoms of pain, inflammation, and/or nausea.  I know, this seems counter intuitive, but the gate control theory of pain suggests that increasing pain by increasing stimulation of nerves, is a way to reduce the perception of pain (Melzack & Wall, 1982).   For example, when you stub your toe you grab your foot and apply pressure or when you burn your fingers on a hot surface you put your fingers in your mouth. It’s the same principal as acupuncture, according to the gate control theory.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Acupuncture, in which needles are inserted at specific points on the skin,  can help reduce symptoms of disorders.  It is based on the premise that the body’s energy flows in 14 distinct channels and a person’s health is dependent on the balance of energy flowing through them (Richardson & Vincent, 1986).  Imbalances can be corrected by inserting tiny needles into the skin.

DOES RESEARCH SUPPORT IT?

There are over 4,000 scientific studies published on the efficacy of acupuncture for various disorders from post-traumatic stress to tennis elbow.  The research suggests acupuncture can effectively treat symptoms such as pain and nausea.  Of course, everyone has a different biochemistry; therefore, not everyone will respond favorably to acupuncture, but this is true for all interventions. The recognition of individual differences has always been a problem in research and immunology.

Other conditions have received attention in research studies and suggest potential areas for the use of acupuncture.  Thus, acupuncture is it not limited to pain and nausea, this is just the primary areas research has emphasized and found to be effective.

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH ACUPUNCTURE

I’ve been receiving acupuncture for over a year, primarily for allergies, and have found it to be extremely helpful.  My sinuses will start to drain immediately after the needles are inserted.  The needles stay in for 20-30 minutes and I use that time to meditate.  It is a peaceful experience.

Acupuncture provides me with relief from symptoms like sinus pain and pressure, which is medically valuable. Acupuncture is advantageous over other medical interventions such as anti-inflammatory drugs, which have multiple side effects.

Reputable acupuncturists can provide fantastic alternative medical services, especially for children.  I recommend someone with a doctorate in acupuncture, such as my acupuncturist, Stephanie McGuirk.  Stephanie has studied in China and worked at the KU Integrative Medicine Center. She is extremely knowledgeable and provides a relaxing experience.

References:

Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement Online, 1997 Nov 3-5, 15(5):1-34

Melzack, R., & Wall, P.D. (1982). The Challenge of Pain. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Richardson, P. H., & Vincent, C. A. (1986). Acupuncture for the treatment of pain: A review of evaluative research. Pain, 24, 15-40.