Focus is defined as the center of interest or activity. Focusing your attention on what is happening in the moment is part of being mindful. A easy way for children to improve attention is by focusing on their bodies. Brain-based strategies encourage children to notice their breath and heartbeat, and pay attention to how it changes during and after movement. Learning to notice these internal changes will help enhance focus and resilience.
Four Brain-Based Strategies to Improve Focus
Breath Work. Teaching children to control their breath can help them become less reactive when feeling anxious or stressed. Paying attention to breathing also supports functioning in the higher brain regions responsible for cognitive processing, such as the prefrontal cortex. A one minute breathing practice can prime the brain for learning!
Yoga. Yoga poses, especially balancing poses require concentration and strength. Paying attention to the sensations in the body, whether active or moving, is an important step in enhancing mindful awareness.
Mindfulness. For children, mindfulness is defined as the practice of paying attention, with the senses. Mindfulness fosters the ability to become more connected to the body and mind, which improves awareness and focus.
Guided Relaxation. Relaxation stories calm the body and mind. They encourage a healthy imagination and develop body awareness. Not able to come up stories on your own? Stress Free Kids is a great website for relaxation stories.
At Mindful Child, we combine social and emotional learning with aerial yoga to teach children self-control. We use brain-based strategies to help children deepen their understanding of their own mental processes. When children are aware of their brain-body connection they are more resilient, confident, and focused. Neuroscience tells us that practicing brain-based activities will enhance receptivity to learning in both academic and social-emotional areas.
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.
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?
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!
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!”
Books are a great way to teach children yoga and mindfulness. Children love Curious George because he is always on the move and getting into mischief. Read a short story such as Curious George by H.A. Rey and infuse it with yoga, breath work, and mindfulness. At the end of the story give your child a “pop quiz” on the content. Have them show you the yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness activities they remember, as they explain what happened in the story.
Curious George Yoga enhances creativity, focus, and attention. It builds working memory and concentration, development of logic, and mindfulness. Reading Curious and doing the above poses promotes yoga pose practice and review.
What to Say.
We are going to read a story about Curious George. Curious George is always very curious and sometimes it is hard for him to stay out of trouble. As we read the story we will engage in mindfulness and movement activities. Sit up tall in Easy Seated Pose. Ready? Let’s begin.
After children have reenacted the story have them take it a step further by asking them what they think happened after the story. Have your child show you what happened next with movement, breath, and mindfulness.
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!
Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is officially a licensed AntiGravity studio! This means our instructors have completed AntiGravity training , we use Harrison AntiGravity Hammocks, and we meet the safety standards associated with being an AntiGravity studio.
What is AntiGravity Aerial Yoga?
AntiGravity is an aerial yoga fitness technique designed to improve one’s health and fitness while having FUN! AntiGravity uses the Harrison AntiGravity Hammock as a yoga prop to support you as you learn aerial yoga techniques and inversions. This unique combination of exercises is intended to decompress your spine and align the body while stretching and strengthening your muscles. Seriously? What more could you ask for in a fitness class!
Who is Christopher Harrison?
AntiGravity was founded by Christopher Harrison. He is a former Broadway dancer and world-class competitive gymnastics specialist. At the age of 20 he suffered a major injury that required eight surgeries to reconstruct his knees. Christopher Harrison spent the next two years rehabilitating himself through rigorous physical therapy and Pilates. His resilience led him to discover, “In life, hidden in the forces that pull us down is the energy to lift us.” In the early 90’s he created AntiGravity, the first aerial yoga practice!
What are the benefits of AntiGravity?
AntiGravity has many beneficial effects on overall health in adults and children. Christopher Harrison personally guarantees: If you can “suspend your disbelief: I guarantee I can make you healthier, happier, and taller, in just one session.
Here are a some of the recognized benefits of a regular AntiGravity practice:
Increased muscular flexibility
Muscular tension release through self-massage techniques
Upper and lower body strengthening
Increased joint mobility
Self-esteem enhancement through the process of conquering basic fears
Decompression and re-aligning of the spine
Refreshes the endocrine, lymphatic, digestive, and circulatory systems
Releases “happy hormones” such as dopamine and serotonin
Increases neuroplasticity of the brain (creating new brain pathways)
Glowing skin: inversions enhance one’s complexion
These are just a few of the many benefits of AntiGravity. While it is great read about the benefits the true magic is in experiencing them first hand. Join us a for a class! After all, who doesn’t want to be healthier, happier, and taller?!?
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?
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.
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.
Body Sox is an yoga experience like no other. Children love to stretch in it as many ways as possible. There are multiple ways to use the Body Sox from games to relaxation.
WHAT IS IT?
Body Sox are fun, therapeutic sacks constructed from four-way stretch lycra. Body Sox teach both adults and children about gross motor control by providing proprioceptive feedback that leads to a new awareness of the body.
BODY SOX BENEFITS
Allows children to kinesthetically feel their body
Enhances creativity and imagination
Provides heavy work/deep pressure, which is calming and organizing
Provides tactile input
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOGA?
Children can play Yogi Says, which is just like Simon Says, but with yoga poses. Better yet, let them create their own Body Sox pose, crawl, walk, or slither in it.
Body Sox can also be used in relaxation as a calming sensory escape. Put on relaxing music and/or weighted materials to enhance the experience.
What are you waiting for? Sign-up for a class and try one out!
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children