Tag Archives: sensory integration

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. 

Air Surfer Pose

Air Surfer Pose

Air Surfer Pose is a fun way to build confidence in the aerial yoga hammock.  This pose is essentially standing in the hammock while you swing or ride the air surf.  This pose is for two-point hammocks only, as you want the hammock to be like your standing on a surfboard riding the waves.

What are the benefits?

Air Surfer Pose exercises the body and your child’s imagination.  Swinging side-to-side provides sensory input, muscle awareness, and builds motor planning.  It improves balance, grip strength and is a mood buster.   Swinging, whether sitting or standing, can increase endorphins (chemicals in the brain that make you happy) and wake up a sleepy brain and body, thus this pose is great for focus and concentration.

What to Say

  • Let’s go surfing! Bring the hammock in front of your body.
  • Make the hammock skinny like a skateboard. 
  • Hold on to both sides of the hammock as you step up, one foot and then the other.
  • Once you have your balance start to sway side-to-side or back-and-forth. 
  • Pull the hammock away from your body with your arm as you lean your body to the opposite side. Now do the other side.
  • Don’t let go while you surf.
  • To come out of the pose, stand still letting the waves calm down.
  • Once your hammock is barely moving, step one foot down and then the other.
Mindful Child Aerial Hammocks

Mindful Child Aerial Hammocks are beneficial to your child’s development. Swinging is therapeutic whether it is standing, laying, or sitting in the hammock. Check out a Mindful Child class or camp for more fun and therapeutic aerial yoga poses and activities.

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!

Infinity Breath

kid’s mindfulness

What is Infinity Breath?

Infinity Breathing is also referred to as Lazy Eight Breathing, which is a variation of a Brain Gym exercise.  Brain Gym is a set of movements that ready the body for learning.  For this exercise, use a dry erase board or for an extra sensory twist use organic instant pudding on a cookie sheet.  Draw an infinity sign or a number eight laying on its side.  Starting in the middle, your child will trace the left part of the eight while breathing in and the right while breathing out.  As your child traces, make sure he keeps the middle of his body in the center of the eight.  This will insure he is crossing midline.

What are the Benefits?

Crossing midline strengthens neural pathways between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  Crossing midline is important for establishing hand dominance and many other academic skills.  Playing in different textures increases the tactile sense, creativity and body awareness.  It is also calming and relaxing. 

What to Say.

Let’s trace our infinity sign five times with your index finger on your right hand.  Breathe in as you move your finger left, breathe out as you move your finger the other direction. Great!  Switch fingers.  Trace five times with the left index finger. Fantastic tracing! Now let’s use both index fingers to trace the infinity sign ten times.  What does the infinity sign remind you of?  I see butterfly wings.  Let’s create something out of our sign!  To infinity and beyond!

References

Dennison, P. E. (1989). Brain gym: TEACHERS EDITION. Place of publication not identified: Edu-Kinesthetics.

Turn Your World Upside Down: Benefits to Hanging Upside Down

The UP side of being Upside Down in  Aerial Yoga.

Children love to hang upside down!  If you go to a playground you will see  children hanging precariously from the monkey bars.  But did you know that being upside down is actually good for your child’s brain? In aerial yoga, going upside down is called an inversion.  Inversions, which get your feet above your head have healing and mood benefits. These happy faces definitely show Mindful Child Aerial Yoga inversions are a mood changer!

Here are a few of the recognized benefits that aerial yoga inversions can provide for your child’s health:

  • Going upside down, gives your heart and mind a break, which keeps your child in the present moment.  This allows them to see life from a new perspective.  Perspective taking is an important social emotional skill that we teach in our kid’s yoga classes.
  • Inversions such as inverted lotus pose (pictured here) promote calm and relaxation.  At Mindful Child Aerial Yoga we encourage kids to calm their breath and relax their minds to reap the rewards of being upside down.
  • Handstands and headstands even when supported by a yoga hammock or wall require core strength, focus, and resilience.  All of which are needed to successfully navigate life.
  • Children as young as two-years-old naturally go into Down Dog Pose.  This innate desire to be upside down is your child learning to regulate their central nervous system.  Being upside down provides the sensory integration children need to help regulate their behavior and bodies.
  • Being upside down increases blood flow to the brain.  More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Healthy brains are important for learning and self-regulation.

The UP side of  purposefully hanging upside in aerial yoga is that it is beneficial to your child’s overall health.  Inversions improve posture, circulation, strength and flexibility.  Being upside down can enhance mood, teach perspective taking, and build self-regulation skills.

Always use props such as a wall and spot your child if he is attempting headstand and handstand on the ground. Simple poses such as Down Dog Pose also invert the head. Down Dog Pose is fun and can be done almost anywhere! What are you waiting for? Have your child take a deep breath, plant their hands, lift their feet, and gain a new perspective! Ah…