Yoga and Mindfulness for children.
How can Yoga help?
Yoga can help with anxiety as it really allows us to be in the present moment. By focusing on moving the body with the breath and how each pose feels we are staying in the moment and quietening busy minds. It can be challenging to go straight into a mediation so yoga can be a really good tool to prepare ourselves for stillness. Yoga can also help to release built up tension from our bodies and align us energetically.
Cat / Cow
Start in a tabletop position (knees below hips, wrists below shoulders). Inhale and drop the belly down towards the mat as you look forward. Exhale round your spine, arching your back like a spooky Halloween cat and relax your head, looking towards your belly button. Inhale, move through back to your cow pose, lifting your heart, dropping the belly. Exhale back to your cat. Move with the breath here, repeating at least three to five times.
Start on all fours and then bring your hips back so that your arms are stretched out in front of you. Bring your forehead to rest on the mat or on a yoga block or bolster. Having the legs together will help to support your spine. This may not feel like a resting posture for everyone, so another option is to bring your big toes together and knees as wide as the mat and then fold forward, bringing the forehead towards the mat.
Begin standing with your feet together or hip width apart. On an exhale, bend your knees and fold forward bringing your belly against your thighs. Bring your hands to the ground and let your head hang heavy. You may like to work on straightening the legs in time. You can stay here for three to five breaths or for just one exhale as part of a flow.
Puppy Dog Pose
Begin on all fours, knees above hips. As you breath in walk your arms out in front of you and bring your chest towards the mat. You may like to have a yoga block underneath each forearm if that feels better. Rest your forehead on the mat keeping your legs exactly where they started. Breath here for three to five breaths.
Legs up the wall
This is a wonderful restorative pose that helps your body to relax and restore. Start by sitting sideways against a wall and then swing your legs around so that you are laying on your back with your legs up the wall. Doing it this way will help you to get your bottom as close to the wall as you can. Straighten your legs, resting your heels on the wall. Your arms can rest beside you or bring them to your belly. Anytime you need a break during this pose you can bring your legs into a butterfly position by bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together. The more you practice this pose the longer you will be able to stay in it for. Try staying in this pose for at least two minutes or longer if you feel you need to.
How is your child feeling about going back to school? Do they have at least one thing they are really looking forward to? These poses can be used before school, after school or any time you and your child has time. You could practice them all or just choose one or two for that day. Legs up the wall is one of our favorites before bed!
This is a beautiful meditation for children and teenagers that can be done at home. Adults can benefit just as much from this practice so feel free to set a timer and join in. So often people think the idea of meditation is to have no thoughts but actually trying to quieten the mind so that we can allow ourselves to hear our unheard thoughts can be very empowering.
To be able to direct these thoughts, we must first be aware of them. Bring an awareness to these thoughts without judgement, without labeling them good or bad. Each time a thought comes to your head return back to the number one so that you are not 'running away with the story'. One to two minutes is a good time frame for this exercise. You may choose to journal after or to talk to someone you trust about what came up for you.
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