Tag Archives: mindfulness

Mindful Art with Blo-Pens

Blo-Pens Mindful Art

Mindful Art Materials

What is Blo-Pen Mindful Art?

Blo-pens combine mindful art and breathing all at once.   Blo-pens give art an airbrushed look and require extra focus and concentration to create pictures. In the middle of a poster board write the word mindfulness in big letters then let the creativity begin.   Allow your child to draw their mindfulness pictures with colored pencils and then color in the picture with the blo-pens.

Benefits

Art and breathing combined double the calming efforts.  Using blo-pens to color in pictures increases attention and decreases stress.    Creating art boosts creativity, self-esteem, and your child’s artistic ability.  Blo-pens enhance deep breathing and mindful awareness.

What to Say

  • We are going to make mindful art with our breath! Mindfulness is written in the middle of your poster board.  Using colored pencils write words and/or draw pictures of your favorite mindfulness activities. 
  • Then we will use the blo-pens to color in the pictures we are have drawn.  For example, I wrote relax and I drew a picture of myself laying in mummy pose.  I made a tree as it is one of my favorite yoga poses. I then wrote calm, balanced, and focused on the branches.  I made a yoga hammock with a heart since I love aerial yoga.  
  • Draw and/or write mindfulness activities that help you feel calm and happy.  Choose your colors mindfully and notice what it feels like to color with the blo-pens. 
  • Reflect on the activity, by asking, “How did using the blo-pens differ from drawing with the colored pencils? Was it harder or easier to focus?” 

Looking for mindful art ideas? Sign up for one of our “Mommy and Me” classes or check out our blog on Lavender Cloud Dough!

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.

Coping Skills for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common childhood-onset psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorders in children are associated with educational underachievement and co-occurring psychiatric conditions, as well as functional impairments that can extend into adulthood.

The most recognizable cognitive pattern in anxiety is worry. The child ruminates on “what if” thoughts about negative events that might happen in the future. Worrying is an attempt to prepare and to feel in control. Unfortunately, the brain treats every “what if” thought as something that WILL happen rather than as something that MIGHT happen. This activates the fight or flight reaction even when no actual danger or threat is present.

With coping skills training, your child learns to relax at the first sign of the stress response.  They are able to counter the “what if” thoughts with coping thoughts when faced with a challenging situation.

What are the Benefits of Coping Skills Training?

Coping skills training reduces stress and anxiety. It can improve sleep, happiness and resilience. Coping skills training improves relaxation and calmness, while promoting the ability to manage difficult emotions.

Step One: Relax and Be Mindful

Coping Skills Training at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is made up of evidence-based relaxation techniques. Here are some of the techniques we use at Mindful Child:

You can significantly reduce stress and anxiety with these techniques, but it will take daily practice. Additionally, the techniques should be taught in the order listed above. Deep diaphragmatic breathing should always be taught first. Poor breathing habits diminish the flow of gases to and from your child’s body, making it harder for them to cope with stressful situations. In addition, to following the specified order it is important to make the activities FUN. My book, Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids, contains breathing and relaxation techniques specifically for children. Better yet – if you are in the Kansas City area, sign-up your child up for a aerial yoga and mindfulness class, camp or kid’s yoga night out.

References

Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in psychology8, 874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874

Manzoni, G. M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G., & Molinari, E. (2008). Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry8, 41. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-41

Four Ways to Reduce ADHD Symptoms

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex disorder that can affect individuals across the lifespan. In recent years, ADHD has been on the rise in children. Neuroscience has shown us that Dopamine, a neurotransmitter important in mood regulation, is lower in the brains of children with ADHD. Additionally, the brains of individuals with ADHD are structurally different with reduced volume in regions responsible for focus and attention such as the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.

The good news is…

The good news is the brain has neuroplasticity, which means that it can grow and change with stimulation and the right nutrient intake.

Enhance your child’s well-being using these strategies:

  1. Limit processed foods. Children should eat real, whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  Whole foods are full of nutrients that your child’s brain and body needs to function correctly.  A whole food diet can aid in neurotransmitter production, cognition, and enhance health.  You do not need to eliminate all packaged and processed foods, but significantly reducing processed foods is the best thing you can do for your child’s health.
  2. Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is harmful to all kids, but it is especially harmful to those with ADHD. Research has found that sugar can dysregulate levels of dopamine, which are already lower in children with ADHD. Added sugar, that is processed and doesn’t occur naturally in whole foods such as fruits, is harmful to the brain and body. One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons or more of added sugar, which is more than the daily minimum, not to mention the other harmful artificial ingredients such corn syrup.
  3. Load up on healthy fats. Healthy fats are good for the brain and nervous system because both, are mostly made up of fats. Omega-3s are an example of healthy fats that reduce inflammation. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, salmon, and avocados. These fats keep your child’s brain healthy by helping neurotransmitters function properly.
  4. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps dopamine functioning. It is not only important for physical health, but mental health as well. Movement promotes the release of “feel good chemicals” such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Our favorite form of exercise is aerial yoga. Other forms of exercise such as running, biking, swimming and karate are also good for the brain and body.
  5. Be Mindful. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose. When your child practices mindfulness it trains their brain to slow down and focus.

In Summary,

If your child has ADHD, you can reduce symptoms naturally by exercising regularly, eating healthy fats, reducing sugar, practicing mindfulness, and limiting processed foods.

References

Schnoll R, Burshteyn D, Cea-Aravena J. Nutrition in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a neglected but important aspect. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2003;28:63–75. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Kim WK, Cho S. Sugar and cognitive performance. Korean J Nutr. 2007;40(Suppl):50–65. [Google Scholar]

Christiansen, L., Beck, M. M., Bilenberg, N., Wienecke, J., Astrup, A., & Lundbye-Jensen, J. (2019). Effects of Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Children and Adolescents with ADHD: Potential Mechanisms and Evidence-based Recommendations. Journal of clinical medicine8(6), 841. doi:10.3390/jcm8060841

Gratitude Journal

This week our camp theme was gratitude. At Camp Gratitude we made mini gratitude journals. When children think of things they are grateful for it activates the calming part of the nervous system. This helps children to feel not only calmer, but happier. With school getting ready to start, now is a perfect time to make the gratitude journal a healthy habit. Every morning, before school, have your child write or draw one thing he is grateful for in a journal or on the bathroom mirror. What a great way for a child to start, not only their day, but their new school year!

Here are a few prompts to get you started. Ask her to write or draw about:

  • A person you appreciate.
  • A place that makes you happy.
  • An item you love (e.g., backpack, waffles, bike).
  • A skill or ability you are awesome at.
  • A person who makes you laugh.
  • Your favorite song.
  • Something that you accomplished that made you feel good.
  • A sport or hobby you enjoy.
  • A pet you love.
  • A teacher who showed you kindness.

Benefits

Learning to be grateful helps children to develop executive function skills, which are higher level cognitive skills needed to self-regulate. Being grateful increases mindfulness and compassion for others. Being grateful can shift your child’s mood and enhance her overall well-being.

What to Say

  • Did you know that practicing being grateful can make you feel happier and healthier?
  • Each morning think of one thing you are grateful for and write or draw it.
  • Notice how you feel.

Check out our mini gratitude journal from Camp Gratitude.

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

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

Health Benefits of Summer Camps

Kid’s today face daily stresses on the mind and body. Summer camps are a great way for kids to unplug from technology, reduce stress and enhance physical and mental health. Way to go summer camps!

Here are some of the recognized benefits that our yoga + mindfulness summer camps can provide your child:

  • Boosts Brain Power! Science tells us yoga and mindfulness can promote healthy brain development and boost resilience.
  • Builds Life Skills. Yoga and mindfulness helps children learn self-control, kindness, gratitude, patience, and other important life skills.
  • Cultivates Learning. Children need to move to learn. Cross-lateral movements integrate both sides of the brain, which enhances learning.
  • Reduces Stress. Mindfulness teaches kids to be less reactive to daily stressors. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is quick way to calm the nervous system. The best part is kids can do it anytime and anywhere.
  • Promotes Strength and Flexibility. All of your child’s bodily systems are supported by movement. Yoga strengthens and stretches your child’s entire body.
  • Inspires Happiness. Research tells us a consistent yoga and mindfulness practice produces GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that plays in an important part in your child’s mental health. Increased GABA leads to feelings of relaxation and happiness. Yay GABA!

This blog focuses on the benefits of our Mindful Child camps, but camps, in general, are a wonderful way to promote health and reduce screen time. Regardless of the camp you choose, most summer camps have many character building experiences and offer exercises that build confidence and self-esteem. They are also a great way to explore different hobbies without a long term commitment.

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!

Do It Yourself Shuffle Bubbles

Shuffle Bubbles are bubbles made from a solution that is stronger than typical bubble solution so it doesn’t pop as easily! Children can actually catch and pass the bubbles. Parents can make the solution using the recipe below or buy an inexpensive Shuffle Bubble set online. Shuffle Bubbles is also a good lesson in self-control. Children love popping bubbles, but in Shuffle Bubble we want the bubbles to last as long as possible, so they must demonstrate impulse control and not pop the bubbles.

Bubble Materials

  • Bubble Catching Gloves
  • 1 cup Dish Soap (Dawn Original Dish Soap works best for bubbles)
  • 1/4 Cup Glycerin Oil (can buy this at Amazon or Hobby Lobby)
  • 2 Tablespoons White Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Bubble Solution

Bubble Blower Materials

How to Make a Bubble Blower

  • Bunch up five straws.
  • Hold them tightly.
  • Wrap decorative tape around the straws at the top, middle, and bottom.

Benefits

Blowing bubbles helps children relax. Catching the bubbles and shuffling them to a friend increases focus, social skills, and enhances cooperative play. Shuffle Bubbles develops executive functioning skills, which help children to self-regulate and show self-control

What to Say

We are going to wear magic bubble-catching gloves so that we can catch bubbles. Remember the goal is to catch the bubble, not to pop it. Let’s take three deep Balloon Breaths before we get started.

Slowly and mindfully blow a bubble. Catch the bubble in your hand and shuffle it to a friend. Be mindful when handling the bubbles because they will pop if you aren’t very gentle with them. Now let’s see how many times we can bounce the bubble back and forth before it pops.

Mindfulness Challenge

For an extra mindfulness challenge build a bubble tower in your hand! Hold your gloved hand out in front of you. Position your bubble blower so your hand is below it. Slowly let the bubbles drop onto your gloved hand. TADA! Behold your bubble tower.


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