With the stress and uncertainty in the world today mindfulness resources are needed more than ever. Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive effects of mediation and mindfulness on physical and psychological health. Mindfulness can help your child develop an inner calm and happiness. Even though using an app to be mindful seems contrary to yoga and mindfulness, desperate times require desperate measures. The coronavirus has closed avenues to yoga and mindfulness in person and left us in a world of social distancing, requiring us to step out of our comfort zones and try new ways to practice mindfulness. Here are a few of my favorite mindfulness apps:
Smiling Minds. This FREE app was developed by psychologists and educators and has mindfulness programs from age seven to adults.
Headspace. The Headspace app teaches meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day. It offers breathing techniques, visualization, and special programs for kids.
Stop, Breathe, & Think. This friendly app was made to guide people of all ages through meditations on mindfulness and compassion. It even has features designed specifically for kids.
Breathe, Think, Do, with Sesame. Sesame Street is a wonderful resource for not only mindfulness, but growth mindset as well. Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is a research-based app that helps your child learn Sesame’s strategy for problem-solving to teach his monster friend to take deep breaths!
According to science, yoga has a multitude of health and mood benefits. The benefits of yoga are boosted if you pair it with mindfulness. If you want to add a little movement to your child’s mindfulness practice, there are several places to practice yoga online. For the next few weeks, online yoga may be the only option. Here are a few of my favorite online yoga resources for families.
Cosmic Kids. Cosmic Kids offers free online adventures for kids. The Cosmic Kids website has lesson plans and guided meditation scripts that are reasonably priced. There is even a free Cosmic Kids lesson plan sample!
Yoga Ed. Yoga Ed teaches the basics of yoga and mindfulness through breathing exercises, yoga poses, games, visualizations, and relaxation activities. They have different yoga themes and age ranges to choose from, making this an easy way for kids to have a yoga and mindfulness practice at home.
Yoga and mindfulness are powerful ways to calm down kids and sharpen their minds. Even though times may be scary and unprecedented, remember to engage in self-care and model healthy lifestyle choices. Children learn by example…
Peaceful Pigeon Pose is a yoga restorative pose that is a deep hip stretch for children. If your child has tight hips, a gentler variation is doing this simple stretch on your back. This is a pose that is usually done at the end of a yoga class when hips are more open; thus, it may be better for you child to begin with the modified pigeon on their back and then move to the full version. Afterwards discuss the two versions of pigeon with your child and see which one resonated with them and why.
What are the Benefits?
Peaceful Pigeon stretches the hips, glutes, hamstrings and groin. Peaceful pigeon pose opens the hips. Pigeon pose promotes inner peace. It reduces stress and tension.
What to Say.
We are going to be Peaceful Pigeons. Lay on your back and cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Making a figure four. Flex your toes.
Now lift your knees up. Thread your arms through the triangle between your legs and clasp your hands around the back of your leg.
Breath in and out for 5 breaths.
Bring knees together and rock side to side for a moment before switching sides. Notice how you feel.
We are going to be Peaceful Pigeons one more time, but in this version our pigeon is going to sit up tall and puff out his chest.
Begin in Down Dog. Bring your right knee forward toward your right hand. Angle your knee to the right and slide your shin forward as much as comfortable.
Extend your left leg out long behind you. Try to not lean to one side or the other.
Take a deep breath in as you sit up tall. Breath in and out for three breaths.
Tuck your toes and come into Down Dog for a moment before switching side. Notice how you feel.
Peaceful pigeon can be done on the ground, in a hammock, or even facing a friend! If your child has tight hips or just needs a little stress reduction sign them up for one of our aerial yoga + mindfulness 12-week session!
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?”
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?”
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!
Fish Pose is a graceful, but powerful back bend. The gentle bend of the chest mimics the rounded back of a fish. Fish Pose can give relief to symptoms of asthma and bronchitis. Young children or children with special needs may find fish pose challenging to get into, but it can be easily modified by having them lay on a small child bolster, rolled up mat, or blanket to provide the same benefits.
What are the benefits?
The opening of the chest, opens the heart releasing feelings of positivity and well-being. Fish pose reduces chest disorders and promotes a healthy heart. This pose can stimulate the thyroid, which increases metabolism.
What to Say.
We are going to be a fish! Lay on your back. Bring your knees into your heart center. Straighten your legs and glue them together. Slide your hands under your tail. Bring them close together with palms facing down. As you breathe in, push your elbows down. Point toes. Come onto the crown of your head. You are a fish! Take five deep breaths. Slowly release to the floor. Hug your hands around the knees or under the knees, bring them into the heart center. Rock and roll a few times side to side. Ah…feels good!
Reverse Warrior Pose for Focus, Strength, and Calm
Reverse Warrior Pose is part of the Warrior series, which is a powerful set of poses known for building strength. Reverse Warrior requires a bit more balance than some of the other warrior poses as children are looking up with one arm reaching for the sky and one arm resting on the back leg.
Reverse Warrior Pose stretches and strengthens your child’s entire body while developing balance and coordination. Reverse Warrior increases mindful awareness and promotes inner calm. It also creates concentration and focus from the ground up.
What to Say
Begin in Warrior II. Keep your front knee bent as you flip your front palm to face the sky.
Lift your front arm toward the sky. Look up at your hand. Breathe in as you reach up higher. Rest your other hand on your back leg.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Notice how you feel. Do you feel a gentle stretch in your side?
Let’s shake it out and be a warrior on the side. Notice how this side feels. Is it different from the first?