Tag Archives: mindful child

Natural Light and Mental Health

Children’s Yoga at Mindful Child

Light is important to learning and behavior. There are many studies that have investigated the relationship between natural light and it’s affect on psychological well-being and children’s academic performance. Light helps regulate mood and affects cognitive performance. Indirect sunlight is best for learning and reading. An aspect of learning is that we learn when we feel secure, calm, happy and challenged.  Natural light boosts mood, which, in turn, increases learning.

Different rooms require different types of light sources depending on their function, but regardless of the function, when looking at lighting, natural light has measurable health benefits. 

What are the Benefits of Natural Light?

Natural light enhances the mood enhancing brain chemical, serotonin. Studies have shown the more sunlight exposure you receive the higher the level of serotonin in the body. This boost in serotonin helps your child feel calm and happy. Additionally, light affects the body’s internal clock thus it can improve sleep, release hormones, and boost overall well-being.

When you look at creating a mindful space for your child, there are aspects of lighting to consider:

  • Avoid fluorescent lights. A study in 2017 examined fluorescent lighting in 90 classrooms with results showing that 80% of classrooms were lit with 100 Hz fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is linked with headaches and impaired visual performance.  Not only do these lights cause discomfort, but children with sensory needs may experience sensory overload.  If fluorescent lights are unavoidable consider covering them with light covers that filter and soften the light. 
  • Natural light is best. Fielding (2017) reports light is perhaps the single-most important element in the learning environment. Research shows that in classrooms with natural light math scores improve by 20% and verbal scores by 22%.
  • Dimly lit areas help children relax. Mindful Child aerial yoga hammocks filters out light when inside it, creating a relaxing retreat.  If your child is relaxing in a tent, it will also create a dimly lit area to practice mindfulness techniques.
  • Smart bulbs are worth the cost. At Mindful Child, we installed LIFX smart bulbs in our overhead lights. We can easily dim them or change the colors creating a relaxing vibe.  They are a great addition to the natural light we have from all of our amazing windows. At night, the smart bulbs create an ambiance that facilitates relaxation.

At Mindful Child, we have put a lot of thought into our conditions for calm and the optimal environment to help children relax and gain the most benefit from our mindfulness techniques. Light has a biological affect on children and adults, with natural light having brain changing benefits.

References

Boubekri, M., Cheung, I. N., Reid, K. J., Wang, C. H., & Zee, P. C. (2014). Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine10(6), 603–611. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3780

Roenneberg T, Kantermann T, Juda M, Vetter C, Allebrandt KV. Light and the human circadian clock. Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2013;(217):311-31. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-25950-0_13. PMID: 23604485.

“Lighting and Discomfort in the Classroom.” Lighting and Discomfort in the Classroom – ScienceDirect. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2017. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494408001011>.

Fielding, Randall. “Learning, Lighting and Color: Lighting Design for Schools and Universities in the 21st Century.” DesignShare (NJ1). DesignShare. 4937 Morgan Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409-2251. Tel: 612-929-6129; Tel: 612-929-3520; Web Site: Http://www.designshare.com, 30 Nov. 2005. Web. 01 Aug. 2017. <https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED497664>.

Deep Pressure Touch

What is Deep Pressure Touch?

Deep pressure is tactile input that provides proprioceptive input to the body. This can consist of many things including hugging, squeezing, compression, massage, aerial yoga or wrapping up tight in a yoga mat. When administered to the body, deep pressure touch has a calming, organizing effect on your child’s nervous system.

How Does it Work?

Steamroller at Mindful Child

Deep touch pressure decreases the “fight or flight” response and lowers stress hormones in the brain and body. Deep pressure increases neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that regulate mood).  It enhances levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help your child sleep, feel calm and be happy. The increase in serotonin and dopamine also counteracts the effects of the stress hormone, cortisol, which results in better regulation.

What are the Benefits?

Because deep pressure touch influences the parasympathetic activity (vagal tone) and sympathetic activity (reduced stress response) it has many benefits. Deep pressure touch may improve sensory integration, enhance body awareness, and increase focus.  Additionally, it can help with coordination, improve sleep and reduce stress/anxiety. 

What Does the Research Say?

• Reynolds, Lane, Mullen (2015) studied the effect of deep pressure stimulation using the Vayu Vest, results demonstrated that wearing the Vayu Vest for even short periods of time positively affected the autonomic nervous system. Their research concluded deep pressure may be useful for reducing internalizing and externalizing behaviors, increasing attention, and decreasing impulsivity.
• Mullen et al (2008) found that the use of a weighted blanket, lowered anxiety (63%), lowered physiological data (blood pressure, pulse rate, pulse oximetry), and had a positive calming effect (78%).

Deep touch pressure activities you can do at home:

Body Sox Yoga at Mindful Child
  • Rolling/wrapping your child firmly in a yoga mat to make a “fruit roll-up”
  • Make a sandwich, by gently squishing them between two soft pillows
  • Firmly roll a weighted exercise ball on top of your child’s legs, back and arms, we call this steamroller. 
  • Weighted lap pad.
  • Yoga poses in a Body Sox.
  • Climbing under sofa or at Mindful Child, Nugget cushions
  • Deep Pressure seating options like our canoe (feels like a hug). 
  • I’ve saved the best for last…aerial yoga in a Mindful Child aerial yoga hammock!

There are many play-based ways to provide deep pressure touch. Combine the activities with deep breathing to double the calming efforts. Want more? Have your child hang out with us in class or camp to learn techniques to promote happiness and calm.

References

S, Reynolds, S.J., Lane, B., Mullen. (2015). Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation on Physiological Arousal American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2015, Vol. 69, 6903350010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015560

B. Mullen, T, Champagne, S. Krishnamurty, D. Dickson, & R. X. Gao (2008) Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket, Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24:1, 65-89, DOI: 10.1300/J004v24n01_05

Astronaut Training

Astronaut Training at Mindful Child

What is Astronaut Training? 

Astronaut Training is a therapy program designed to have a direct impact on the vestibular, visual, and auditory systems. It incorporates the activation of different channels of the vestibular systems.

Wait. What is the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system is a very complex system, supporting many levels of central nervous system function.  It is located in the inner ear and detects balance, changes in position, and movement.  It is a gravitational reference point which anchors head and body position in space.  It also integrates movement with all sensations.

How Does it Work?

This space-based program involves having the child sit in a one-point aerial yoga hammock (or astronaut rotary board, but we prefer hammocks) and spinning him in various positions. By doing this, the therapist learns whether the child is over- or under-sensitive to motion (by examining eye movement after spinning), and then uses spinning to train the eyes/body for a more coordinated response to motion and visual stimulus.

Is it Beneficial?

Astronaut Training helps children improve their ability to self-regulate especially when there is vestibular dysfunction.  It can also enhance spatial awareness and general movement abilities. In a nutshell, it helps with sensory organization for moving, looking and listening.

In Summary…

Aerial Hammock in Therapy

At Mindful Child, we use the aerial hammock as a prop to assist with sensory integration. The aerial hammock is incorporated in the Astronaut Program instead of a rotary board to increase engagement.  The more engaged a child is with an activity, the more likely they are to benefit from it. If you would like more information regarding how we help children with sensory processing e-mail us at info@mindfulchildaerialyoga.com or set up an initial assessment today. 

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!