Tag Archives: mindfulness

Mindfulness + Aerial Yoga Improve Executive Functioning

What is Executive Functioning?

Executive function is a term for the cognitive-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation. It involves working memory, perspective taking, decision making, emotional regulation, problem-solving, planning, and impulse control.  Wow.  Executive functioning is pretty important!  So important, in fact that it provides the foundation for all educational and social activities. This means executive functioning is something your child needs to successfully navigate life.

When children are under stress it is harder for them to make wise decisions. Chronic stress impairs executive function, which can lead to problems with learning, memory impairment, and behavior issues. The good news is mindfulness and aerial yoga significantly reduce stress and enhance executive functioning.  Way to go yoga and mindfulness!

How does Mindfulness Help?

Science has proved that with mindfulness, executive functioning is strengthened. A repeated mindfulness practice actually builds neural pathways in the brain. A consistent mindfulness practice changes neural pathways to neural superhighways, making it more accessible to children in times of stress bolstering their executive functioning.

What are the Benefits of Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga?

Mindfulness and aerial yoga improve working memory (temporary storage and managing of information to carry out cognitive tasks).  Research shows that mindfulness and aerial yoga teaches children to reflect before they react, which, in turn, reduces impulsive actions.  Mindfulness and Aerial Yoga, the Mindful Child way, builds emotional intelligence (ability to notice and manage your own emotions). Once children are more aware of their emotions they are better able to regulate them. Mindful Child teaches mindfulness in a fun, play-based manner that kid loves.

What are you waiting for… Sign-up here!

References

Van de Hurk, P.A.M., Giommi, F., Gielen, S.C., Speckens, A.E.M., & Barendregt, H.P. (2010). Greater efficiency in attentional processing related to mindfulness meditation. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63 (6), 1168

Tang, Y. Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., . . . Posner, M. I. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (43), 1, 17152 -17156.

How Mindful Child Aerial Yoga Soars Above the Rest

We Rise By Uplifting Others. ~Robert Ingersol

Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is one of only a handful of aerial yoga studios in the world that incorporate mindfulness, therapeutic tools, and sensory integration strategies into their aerial yoga instruction.

Our unique classes use yoga poses and strategies that science demonstrates as therapeutic to the brain and body. We also make sure our classes are filled with social emotional learning and FUN!

Below are just a few of ways we uplift children and soar above others.

HIGHLY QUALIFIED STAFF

Mindful Child Aerial Yoga staff has the credentials to teach children, not only yoga, but social and emotional skills. When you send your child to school or the doctor’s office, you rest assured knowing that your child’s teacher and doctor have degrees in teaching and medicine. They have the adequate credentials to teach your child. In the yoga business, this is not always the case as there is no governing board. Scary, right?

At Mindful Child Aerial Yoga our staff (except for Kennedy who is pre-med at KU and Suzanne who is an occupational therapy graduate student at Rockhurst), not only have degrees, but are licensed professionals working with children. Dr. Tracy is a former psychologist, who has worked with children for over 20-years. Sarah and Abby are early childhood special education teacher. All have spent years in school earning their graduate degrees. Additionally, the staff at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga have all attended Dr. Tracy’s rigorous yoga training programs.

SAFETY

Before opening Mindful Child Aerial Yoga  a structural engineer inspected and reinforced our ceiling. We also spent more money on our aerial yoga hammocks. We only buy safety test aerial yoga hammocks and equipment. These hammocks have been safety tested up to 1300 pounds! Lastly, we have special yoga flooring called Zebra Yoga Flooring that is padded. If your child falls out of the hammock it doesn’t hurt. We spared no expense to make sure your child is safe.

RESEARCH-BASED

Our aerial yoga program is brain-based, therapeutic, and research-backed. Everything from the music we play to the yoga movements we introduce are beneficial to brain development with proven therapeutic results. Go us for making aerial yoga not only fun, but brain building!

MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness is incorporated into all aspects of our program. The Mindful Child Aerial Yoga curriculum teaches children how to build mindful awareness, which helps them reflect before they react. Problem behaviors decrease while executive functioning, and adaptive skills are enhanced.

REGISTERED

Mindful Child Yoga Teacher Training is a registered yoga school. Our 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training is approved and registered with Yoga Alliance. It is the only approved 95-hour yoga teacher training in the Midwest. We are also a continuing education provider for yoga instructors. This means we know a lot about yoga!

SPECIALIZE IN CHILDREN

We only teach children. Unlike other yoga studios we focus ALL of our attention on making our yoga program unique and beneficial to children. Since that is all we do, we are really good at it!

When looking for aerial yoga for your child don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure the teacher is a licensed professional who works with children. Also, ask about the safety of the equipment. Has it been safety tested?  Were the hammocks hung by a licensed contractor?  Is there a padded flooring? After all your child will be suspended in the air hanging upside down like a monkey…

Sensory and Cognitive Benefits of Aerial Yoga

AERIAL YOGA BENEFITS ALL CHILDREN

Aerial yoga has the same benefits of typical yoga, but there are also additional sensory, cognitive, and health benefits. Aerial yoga gives the body more room to stretch. Since gravity isn’t an issue the spine is decompressed, muscle tension is released and blood circulation is enhanced.

WHAT IS AERIAL YOGA?

Aerial yoga uses a yoga hammock that is suspended from the ceiling.  The material is super stretchy and strong.  The instructor helps the student move into different poses much like a typical yoga session only the student is suspended in the air.

HOW IS IT THERAPEUTIC?

Aerial yoga provides a calming sensory experience for children. The therapeutic poses are designed with an emphasis on the central nervous system, which promotes sensory integration and self-regulation.

WHAT ARE THE SENSORY BENEFITS?

  • Self-Regulation. Inversion is a great tool for self-regulation.
  • Deep Pressure. The suspended yoga hammock provides deep pressure, which is instantly calming to the central nervous system.
  • Body Awareness. The hammock promotes motor planning and working memory while engaging in the poses.
  • Sensory Integration. The hammock provides sensory input in a tranquil, fun, therapeutic environment.

WHAT ARE THE COGNITIVE BENEFITS?

  • Attention and Focus. Aerial poses require more steps than land-based yoga. Children have to focus, otherwise they fall out of the hammock.
  • Executive Function. The complex poses require working memory, motor planning and awareness, which are higher level cognitive skills needed to self-regulate behavior.
  • Aerial yoga improves the ability to be less reactive and more mindful of thoughts and speech.
  • Reduced academic problems. We are building neuropathways every time we practice a new skill.  Thus, in each class, when we practice social emotional learning, mindfulness, and aerial skills we are literally building networks in the brain!

There are a multitude of benefits associated with our style of aerial yoga, so many in fact it will take several blog posts to list them all.  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on physical and social emotional benefits.

Sign-up soon. Our classes are so fun and unique they tend to sell out with a wait list.  Go us for making yoga and mindfulness so fun we can’t get kids to leave!

PAWS and Meditate – Counting Breath

Funny illustration with cartoon red cat sitting on lotus position of yoga.

MEDITATE

Paying Attention With Senses (PAWS) helps children to regulate their emotions.  Counting breath is a simple way to meditate that can be done anywhere.

WHAT IS COUNTING BREATH?

Counting breath is a deep breathing exercise that uses counting as an anchor to keep the focus on the breath. When children are upset counting breath helps them regain control of emotions and settle the brain.  Counting breath improves focus, creating mindfulness, which leads to feelings of relaxation, clarity, and calm. Counting each exhalation focuses the attention on the breath. It keeps the attention in the present moment. This mindfulness tool can be used when children are feeling anxious, moody, angry or just need to relax.

LET’S BEGIN!

Lie on your back with your right hand on your navel and your left hand on your heart center.  Take a deep breath In through the nose. Feel the belly, rib cage, and heart center rise beneath the hands.  As you exhale, feel your hands fall.  Count one.  Continue counting and breathing in this way until you get to 10.  Still not calm?  Try it again.  Make sure the breath is reaching all the way to the navel.  Shallow breathing will excite the nervous system.

 

Mindfulness Quiets The Mind

Casa Somerset Yoga-30

I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness is characterized by stopping, paying attention on purpose, peace, and compassion   Mindfulness is a way of looking at experiences with emotional balance and compassion for self and others.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Mindfulness gives the individual a way to deal with negative experiences. More intimate connections with others are accomplished and regrets are not focused on. Mindfulness enhances physical health by decreasing stress, blood pressure, pain, and improving the quality of sleep. Mindfulness can supplement mental health treatments by improving symptoms related to depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Siegel (1999) reports that the structures and functions of are brain are molded by interpersonal experiences. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve neural growth in the brain. The more you engage in an activity the better the body will become at doing it due to this neural growth; therefore, it is important to engage in mindfulness daily.

Stress comes from contemplating about the past or worrying about the future. Living your life in the current moment and focusing your attention on the activity you are doing at the moment does not leave space for other things to invade your thoughts, such as fears, worries or anything that may be stressful. When meditating, your attention is on the meditation object, which may be your breath or mantra. This focus allows your mind to quiet and to be fully present in the moment. Performing activities such as schoolwork with mindfulness leads to improved outcomes. Not only is stress and worry decreased, focus is improved.

 HOW DO I TEACH IT TO MY CHILD?

Teaching children mindfulness can be tricky. After all the art of doing nothing is hard to learn in our frantic society.  A simple way to demonstrate mindfulness to children is to show them how to check in with their breath. Props such as stuffed animals or hoberman spheres can be used.  Children love to pretend the props are riding the breath on their tummies. Also, there are several books that introduce mindfulness. One of my favorites is “Peaceful Piggy Meditation. ” So spend a few minutes at the end of the day being mindful, and before you know it you will have a mindful child.

References

Boyce, B. (n.d.). The secret of success for MBSR. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/in-body-and-mind/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/the-secret-of-success-for-mbsr

Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Cultivating mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm

Siegel, D. J. (n.d.). The science of mindfulness. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/the-science/medicine/the-science-of-mindfulness

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The Developing Mind. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

 

Stop and Smell the Flowers, Lavender Calms the Mind

Essential oils reduce stress and calm the mind.

Aromas act directly on the brain through nerve receptors in the nose.  Millions of nerve cells in our nasal passageways send impulses to the hypothalamus and limbic area, which are the brain’s emotional centers. Aroma of certain oils is linked to the amygdala and pineal gland in the brain, which are also associated with emotion, thus it can help the mind and body by reducing emotional trauma.

Lavender is associated with relaxed brain waves.  Thus, when a child is upset, deep diaphragm breathing coupled with lavender, will have a calming affect on the central nervous system.  Research demonstrates breathing exercises have been successful in reducing anxiety related to attachment disorder, agoraphobia or general anxiety disorder.

Children often need visual reminders to breathe, especially when they are upset.  I make bracelets with lavender scented flowers.  When the child is upset and breathing shallowly, I provide the cue, “Stop and smell the flowers.”  Nine deep breaths are needed to calm the central nervous system.

Additionally, I use essential oils when teaching kid’s yoga and mindfulness. When mixing essential oils, always use oils that are pure and from a respectable source, such as Young Living.  Essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil such as sesame or olive oil in a specific ratio. So if you can’t find a flower to smell, make one.

References

Di Ciacco, J. A. (2008). The colors of grief: Understanding a child’s journey through loss from birth to adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Overholser, J.C. (2000). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorder. Psychotherapy, 37, 247-256.