Tag Archives: mindful child wellness

Mindful Gift Ideas

Mindfulness

This holiday season shop thoughtfully and locally – give the gift of mindfulness!

Meddy Teddy

Holiday shopping can be stressful—especially if you don’t plan ahead. But the holiday season does not have to put such a heavy strain on your wallet and schedule. Consider these gift ideas this year — gifts that encourage mindfulness, promote relaxation and will have a positive impact on the your child’s well-being.

Here are a few handpicked gift ideas:

  • Mindful Gift Pick #1 – Mindful Child Aerial Yoga Hammock. Who doesn’t love hanging upside down? Our studio grade (this means they are high quality) hammocks are perfect Christmas gifts.  They are safety rated and come in a variety of colors. 
  • Mindful Gift Pick #2 – Meddy Teddy.  Best yoga mate to your kids. A playful way to get little ones into yoga and meditation. Meddy Teddy is a pose able bear who knows 100’s of Yoga poses.
  • Mindful Gift Pick #3 – Winter Aerial Yoga Camp.  We’ve added a mini camp over Christmas break.  Three fun filled days of spinning, climbing and hanging upside down.  Camp meets for two hours daily. 
  • Mindful Gift Pick #4 – Late Winter Aerial Yoga Session.  Our new session is online and ready for sign-up.  Best of all the price is discounted until December 4th!
  • Mindful Gift Pick #5 – Essential Oil Roll-ons. Young Living has an excellent selection of roll-ons that make perfect stocking stuffers. My personal favorites are Tranquil and Valor.
  • Mindful Gift Pick #6 – A Journal. Science tells us listing three things you are grateful for daily can make you happier and healthier. Big Life Journal has wonderful journals for all ages.
  • Mindful Gift Pick #7 – A Buddha Board. Write down your worries with a bamboo brush and watch them slowly evaporate while you take deep breaths.

These gifts are meant to inspire healthy living, allowing you to empower your little ones to learn healthy habits for life. What better gift to give this holiday season?

Elevator Breath

kids mindfulness

What is Elevator Breath?

This breathing technique is referred to as “three-part breath” because of how the breath enters the abdomen, diaphragm, and chest. Children often breathe with only the top portion of their lungs, which means they are missing out on the benefits of using their entire lungs to breathe. Breathing in and out at full capacity provides a sense of balance and calm.

In aerial yoga, Elevator Breath pairs well with Fish Pose and Mermaid Pose.  However, it can be done in a seat position such as Bucket Seat Pose as well. 

What are the Benefits?        

Elevator Breath increases children’s awareness of their breath. Placing hands on the belly, helps kids to bring their breath all the way to their abdomen. It activates the brain’s relaxation system, which sends an instant calm feeling throughout the body. Placing the hands on the belly and heart allows children to feel their breath, which helps with focus, stress-relief and mindfulness.

What to Say.

  • Lay on your back, place one hand on the heart and one hand on the belly.
  •  Notice your breath and your heartbeat. Is it fast, medium, or slow?
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose. Feel your belly, rib cage, and the heart center rise beneath your hands.
  • As you breathe out, feel your belly, rib cage, and heart center fall. Do you feel the elevator going up and down with each breath?
  • Start to make your elevator go even slower by making your breath slower.
  • Repeat nine times. Notice your breath and heartbeat. Have they changed?

Elevator Breath is one of the breathing techniques we use in our aerial yoga classes. Mindful breathing can help children become more aware of their feelings, this awareness helps them to manage big emotions.

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.

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.