Mindfulness, Yoga and Wellness for families
I love downward facing dog especially in kids yoga. The amount of times I see one and two years old children just naturally taking on this pose is amazing. In this post we look at the benefits of this pose, how to do it and how to make it fun!
SANSKRIT: ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA
Sanskrit is the language of yoga and is the language in which many historic yoga texts were written. We don't usually go into this in children's yoga but it is always nice to connect back to it's roots and learn about the history of a pose/practice.
How to Practice Downward Facing DOG
Start in a table top positions, on your hands and knees. Knees should be below hips and hands in line with shoulders. Walk the hands forward slightly, turn elbow creases towards the front of your mat and press into all 10 fingertips. Curl your toes in under and gently lift your hips up. Your knees can stay bent or work to straighten them bringing your heel to the ground or towards the ground. Relax your head and neck and be sure to hyperextend the arms, so that you are creating a downward V shape.
Fun in this pose
This pose doesn't have to be a Dog, it could be a tent, a unicorn or a tunnel! It can be anything you imagine it to be! It is also fun to pair it with other poses like:
Dog to Frog or Downdog to Updog.
It can also be fun to partner up and take turns in taking the dog for a walk or creating fun ways to do a Downward Dog as a partner pose!
If you would like to see a post on doing that, let me know!
3 ways you can connect with Nature this week with your children.
"Many studies show the positive links between direct experiences in nature and children's mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. The studies show that regular direct access to nature can: increase self esteem and resilience against stress and adversity" (Quote found here)
Taking the time to connect to nature has a huge range of benefits. It allows us to really get back to our selves and find a sense of calm. Here are three ways you can connect with nature this week.
1. Plant something
You don't have to be an amazing gardener, you can keep it really simple. You could plant some basil seeds in a pot on your window, or perhaps plant some flowers that the bees will love in your garden. Whatever you choose to plant, take the time to care for it and watch it grow. I always find watching something grow from 'nothing' so satisfying.
2. Feed the birds
We made some really cool DIY bird houses/feeders last week.
(This one is really cool).
Check out what foods are good for the local birds here.
3. Cloud watch
I love laying in the sun and cloud watching but with the unpredictable weather that may not be happening this week. However, cloud watching can be enjoyed whatever the weather and from almost anywhere. It can be really calming but also allow for creativity. I am sure we have all played the game at one point where we try to see animals and different shapes in the clouds.
This is a great activity with the kids, especially if they do enjoy their screen time as it allows for long distance eye practice.
It is also fun to talk about your different perspectives and if you can see anything the same way as each other. For example, when doing this activity once with my daughter we could both see one cloud as a duck but another cloud we could see completely different things; I could see a unicorn and she could see a dolphin.
Nature is not a place to visit...
...it is home.
How do you like to connect back to nature?
Do you already do some of these activities? Let me know in the comments ♥️
The Importance of Gratitude
This is a running theme in so many of my blog posts, lesson plans and general day to day living. We like to include some form of gratitude into our day whether it is writing it down before we go to sleep, talking about it, playing gratitude themed games or using it as a theme for our art.
Gratitude can make you happier and healthier, physically and mentally. I write about the benefits of gratitude more in this blog post : Have an attitude of Gratitude.
Gratitude is a mindset and not something we can hold in our hands or point to so we have to get creative in the way we teach it to our children. Instead of focusing on getting children to see it, we should bring focus on getting children to feel it. A great way to do this is through art. Children have such beautiful imaginations and it is wonderful to see their creativity flourish. This can also be a really fun opportunity for adults to get creative.
Start by setting up a clear space, without distractions of television. You could even take this activity outside if it is a nice day! Get pens, crayons, glitter, paint or anything you feel like getting arty with today and your paper ready.
Choose from the following prompts to help your child (and yourself if joining in) feel the gratitude in what they have at this very moment.
1. Draw something that makes you happy.
2. Draw someone you love.
3. Draw something that makes you feel good.
4. Draw someone who helps you.
5. Draw something that makes you feel thankful everyday.
I would love to see some of your drawings! Feel free to share with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag me on social media www.facebook.com/amazingmekidsyoga www.instagram.com/amazing_me_yoga or right here in the comments! Enjoy!
The benefits of Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations can help change your whole day. They can ease stress, build confidence and help you to take control of your thoughts. Being in control of your mind is a huge deal. When we let our minds wonder untrained they can go all over the place but by bringing an awareness to our thoughts we can begin to ask ourselves - is this true? Is this my opinion? Have I inherited this view from someone else? Then we can add in our affirmation. A positive phase we have chosen to help focus our mind where we want it to go and focus on what we want it to believe.
You can start using affirmations by writing them down and putting them on your mirror/ some place you'll see often, using them as passwords, using them in meditations or simply just repeat to yourself when needed.
Examples of Affirmations you may choose to use:
I Choose to be Happy
I will be present with each moment
I am enough
I can do hard things
I am loved
I know my worth
I am capable
My heart is open, love pours in and out freely
If you are having trouble with believing the affirmation this can be damaging so I would suggest you re-word it in a way that can feel comfortable to you.
For example - I am beautiful. This could be a really difficult one for someone to repeat in front of a mirror or to themselves if they were having real body image issues. By repeating it to themselves over and over it could get very upsetting. Instead this person could say - 'I am learning to appreciate my beauty' or 'I am learning to love myself exactly how I am' or even 'My body is healthy and functions well.'
How can we encourage our kids to talk more positively to themselves?
Children mirror us! The easiest way to get your kids in on this is to practice it yourself. My six year old is a fantastic example of this. I have my positive affirmations on my mirror and will regularly read them out loud in front of the mirror when she is around. She stands in front of the mirror and says 'looking good!' and strikes a pose to herself or will say something equally cute and inspiring. She then wanted to write her own affirmations. She even wrote a couple for me including 'You are a great mum' and 'you're doing a great job' which just looking at makes me smile every time.
I have attached a fun print out for kids but they could all be used by adults too!
It has space to create your own affirmation too. If you haven't got a printer, feel free to download and copy out the affirmations by hand.
If you enjoyed this blog post please give it a thumbs up and share it with others. Have a wonderful day <3
Free Worksheets for children
The importance of gratitude
Gratitude creates an awareness of all the good things in our lives. The more you think about what you are thankful for, the more you will find you have to be thankful for. Having a gratitude practice has a huge range of benefits for both adults and children. It is something we practice a lot at home so it makes an appearance in my yoga lesson plans regularly!
I have created some fun worksheets we have been doing at home as part of our 'operation home school' so I thought I would share it with you guys too. Scroll down and below the picture of each worksheet is the pdf download.
If you enjoyed this you may also enjoy this daily planner sheet for health and fitness goals etc (opens in new window).
Let me know what you think in the comments below and If you would like to see more like this! Sign up to the email list to here about more mindfulness and yoga you can practice at home!
Get your free worksheets below
Letting go of ego
You may have had this in your classes as a kids yoga teacher or in any other class. The child is unresponsive and doesn't seem to what to take part in anything you have planned. Sometimes it is about changing our approach to teaching. Maybe they learn better through other methods or maybe they just aren't giving your approach any attention regardless. In this case we have to let go of ego, let go of expectations and just be there. Show that child that when they are ready, you are there. Keep the invite open and ask them now and again if they are ready.
How to Include and Unengaged Child
It is not a rule that everyone has to join in. Sometimes even as adults we just don't feel like it. When a child is new to a group, it may be their first group class out of school or just their first yoga class, they may not be sure if they want to join in. They may have anxiety around it or their maybe something else holding them back.
So how can we include a child that doesn't want to join in with the group?
A way I like to keep these kids engaged is to give them a very important job. A job they can do from the sidelines. I give them their own special yoga mat and assign them their role. These may include my special owl watcher. This owl perches on their mat and peeks out from his owl eyes (often using hands in a binocular shape) and just watches to make sure everything is going okay. If the owl feels we are too noisy he can give us a hoot. This allows the child to feel part of the group without expectations of leaving their comfort zone too much. Also if they choose to give a hooting noise, it is a great sign that they are slowly feeling more safe to get involved in the group. Observing the class allows the child to see that it is a fun, safe, supportive space to be in and actually it might not be the worse thing to join in.
Another role I may give someone is as the Volume controller. The volume controller sits on the sidelines and has a magic switch, when they dial it up we can go louder and when they dial it down we go quieter. This is seen as a great game for all but also allows this child to observe what's going on and have a little bit of control over it which can be very empowering for a shy or nervous child.
These are just two ways in which I aim to include someone who is not ready to join the circle. Then at the end I often move the circle to them so we can all end the class together. This lets them know that they were an equal part of our class and we saw and appreciated them. It is amazing how quickly they then come around to joining the circle and week by week become more and more comfortable with those around them and the structure of the class.
If these ideas don't work. We just keep showing up. We let them know that we are not giving up on them and they are important.
"And if those children are unresponsive, maybe you can't teach them yet. But you can love them today, maybe you can teach them tomorrow" - Jeffrey R.Holland.
What ideas do you practice when you have a child that doesn't want to engage in the class? Please share your ideas in the comments or head to our brand new forum full of class ideas, themes and general support and inspiration!
Why schedule a screen free family night?
Screen free family nights can be such a great thing to include into you week or month. It can allow you to do something different as a family and really be present with each other. Now don't get me wrong, I love technology and as a family we enjoy our screen time. While I am writing this my little dude is cuddled into me watching paw patrol. He is in the process of giving up his nap and if this buys me some time, well, so be it.
I am also quite enjoying Just Dance 2020 on the Xbox as well as getting quite stuck into 'my time at portia' with my eldest. We also really enjoy movie night with pizza, popcorn and cuddles on the sofa. Now I've never seen this in any mindfulness blogs or books but I am not trying to be perfect, just trying to be real. I don't want parents feeling guilty for having that screen time, its okay but how about we aim to include some screen free time too? I have found scheduling it so that you and the children know it's coming. It is also very important to see this as the opportunity for fun that it is, it is NOT a punishment!
sCREEN free ideas
I hope you have fun with these ideas and if you have any more please comment below as I would love to hear them!
Let me know if you are going to be scheduling in any screen free movie nights!
A great way to calm down while having to use focus and concentration. Our toes are crammed in shoes all day and this is a great way to stretch them out and release any tension. Working as a team we picked up all the coloured pom poms to put in the pot.
You can try this at home and get inventive, you can use a cake tin and separate different colours, or different sizes etc. Be sure to change foot half way through. This is a great activity and really works those toes muscles in a gentle and kind way. It's simple, fun and easy to clean up!
Mondays' class we will be diving into the concept of friendship. What is friendship? What makes a good friend?
Friendship is often underrated, considering the tremendous impact it has on our well being. Early-childhood friendship is something that is frequently overlooked as a positive developmental influence. Recent research shows the importance of friendship, and its impact on mental and physical health.
In Amazing me yoga we try to encourage new friendships and work on ways we can practice yoga together. We practice partner poses as well as letting the children create their own poses with a partner or as a group. Kids Yoga is not just about the stretches and the poses but about developing social skills.
Through yoga, children learn valuable verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and become
increasingly aware of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all beings; an understanding
that is essential for a healthy social life. Emotional and cognitive skills that we learn in
the relaxing environment of a yoga class can serve us greatly when faced with stressful events
throughout our lives.
As instructors, we do all of this without long lectures; it is all discovered and developed through
doing, through playing games, through working together and through yoga journeys. While yoga is more beneficial for children when done in a group, it is also much more fun!
Have you got any childhood friends you are still friends with? Have they had a positive impact on your life? Were your parents supportive of this relationship? Did they help it grow? Share your experiences below.