Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
In this blog I want to share with you several ideas I use for some special Super Hero Yoga! You can use these ideas at home with your children or if you are a teacher you may like to use these in your yoga classes. Get creative, use little bits or use it all, change it up or keep it the same. Make it your own. Enjoy!
Super heroes need to focus. Bumblebee breath is a great practice for blocking everything else out and really focusing inward, it is great for when you are overstimulated, overwhelmed or just lacking focus.
To start sit up in a tall but comfortable position (use props to sit on, lean on a wall, sit in a chair or in a cross legged seat on the floor). Take a slow breath in through the nose and then hum or buzz it out, feeling the subtle vibration. Now try this again but closing the eye (or taking a soft gaze down) and putting the hands over the ears - this helps to block out outside stimulation. Then breathe in again and make the gentle hum/ buzz out. Keep this going for five rounds.
Create an obstacle course or story with props
You can use different props to create a whole super hero adventure. Blocks can become tall buildings, yoga straps can become tight ropes, pom poms can become magical, yoga mats can become charging stations. Yoga straps also make great laser lights which can be really fun to play with as a team. Two people can hold the laser/ stap (or more) and then someone else can try to get past without touching the laser. You can get very creative here, let your imagination go wild, you can also use sofa cushions, blankets, chairs or any other props you can think to use. Need a little more inspiration? Let the kids guide you!
The plank game. This works best for three or more people. Everyone comes into plank pose - knees up or down. The object of the game is to count to ten while holding the pose. But if only it was that easy, no, here is the twist! You must count as a group at random. If two people say a number at the same time, you must start again from one. Because no one knows who is going to count next, it makes it a game of intuition as well as strength. It is also a lot of fun.
Superman - Laying on your stomach, placing your hand down by your sides pressing into the mat, inhale lift the chest. Exhale down. This time try again but lifting the feet too. If this feels okay you may like to try extend the arms out in front, pretending to fly high.
Partner Superman - Help each other to fly by practicing Warrior 3 Pose together, supporting each others balance. Remember to practice both sides.
Wonder Woman - Goddess pose or Warrior 2
Spider Man - Mountain Climbers but slow and mindfully
Partner Spider Man - Like the slow mountain climbers but one person lays on their back and the other person goes on top almost mirroring the other person. The bottom partner holds the top persons legs, and the top person places there hands on the bottom partners knees. Try to move together. Stay safe and check in with each other.
Iron Man - Strong Mountain Pose with hands on hips
Hulk - Practicing our breathing to Calm down, Lions breath could be a fun one to play with too.
How do Super heroes like to relax?
A great opportunity to talk about relaxation and methods super heroes may use to relax. There can be some very serious suggestions like yoga and some not so serious suggestions like hanging upside down like a bat. Let it be an open space for talking on this subject and maybe ask them how they like to relax.
Take a moment of calm. This could be a typical savasana, a guided visualization meditation, story time, squeeze and release method or rolling up in the yoga mat or a blanket like a super sausage.
You could also do some mindful colouring - maybe design their own cape or costume. You could end with some journaling for older children - writing what they think makes them super or if they could have any power, what would it be? etc.
These are all just ideas that you could use if you wanted to put together a little yoga session for your child or if you are a yoga teacher, your class. They are all just ideas so you don't have to do them all or use them all in one session, you can choose parts you love, add your own ideas and let it suit you and your little ones. You could also just choose one thing a day and turn it into many sessions. The main thing is to have fun and enjoy!
Comment below with any ideas you have on this theme or tell me your favourite from this blog!
Other Posts you may like: Gratitude Scavenger hunt
Five activities to help children to concentrate
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In my Yoga classes we have a mix of energetic games and movement and some slowing down and quiet time. The children actually love the slow, relaxing activities and start to ask for them when practiced regularly. It takes starting small, making it accessible and making it enjoyable. In this blog I will share with you some of the methods I use to practice quiet and calm in my classes and at home.
It sounds so simple but there is so much fun that can be had with the breath with a huge range of benefits. When children are focused on their breath, they are taking time to be in stillness, to check in with themselves and to calm the nervous system, which is still developing in children. The breath can be used to help to relax the body and to increase oxygen supply. It is also a great tool for helping us to lift our mood, relieve anxiety and can help us in different yoga postures.
For younger children, practicing breathwork is going to be more focused around smelling, using fun props (see next section) and visuals where as with older children you can dive deeper into proper techniques. Here are a few examples:
Younger Children: Flower Breath
See Video: Here
Join your pinky fingers, thumbs and the base of your palms together to form a flower. Bring the flower up to your nose to take a big smell. What colour is your flower? Do you have a favourite flower? What does it smell like? Repeat a few times.
Older Children - Breath of Fire
See Video: Here
This is a fun way to get children practicing breath of fire otherwise known as Kapalabhati.
The inhale is just a natural breath in and the exhale is rapid and focuses on those abdominal muscles contracting.
The breath in matches the length of the breath out.
This breathing practice is great for exercising the respiratory muscles, improving focus, digestion, letting go of stress and strengthening abdominal muscles.
Props are a great way to get in some quiet time and to set the scene ready for some calm. It could be that you have a calm corner, a calm basket or a special blanket you use for relaxation. You can use props to help with breathwork such as a breathing ball, pom poms and paper straws.
You could use eye pillows, mindfulness cards, glitter jars, rain sticks, sound bowl, bell, rolling up in your yoga mat, magic stones or crystals etc. There are so many different ways you can utilize the use of props.
Here is one example:
Pom Pom obstacle course
Create a little obstacle course that the child can then use a paper straw to blow a pom pom or cotton ball from the start line to finish line. You can make this easy and get more challenging as you go. You can also play this by just doing this from one end of the yoga mat (or table) to the other.
Who says quiet time can't be fun? Here are a few of my favourite quiet games for groups.
Everyone sits in a line. Write down a sentence - this could be an affirmation, a quote or even a tongue twister. Then give this bit of paper to the person at the back OR just whisper it to them. They then lean forward and whisper it to the person in front of them. They can't repeat it so whatever the person in front thought they heard they pass on to the person in front of them. It keeps going and then the person at the front stands up and shares what they heard with the rest of the group. The person at the back can then let everyone know how much the original message changed (if it did at all). Everyone must be quiet in this game to allow for the message to be heard so it is a great way to practice patience, sitting in stillness and quiet.
Everyone sits in a circle, encourage them to sit up tall but comfortable. One soft toy is then passed to who ever is sitting the quietest. That child then takes a moment to hug the toy, take a few breaths and then must pass it to another child who is being nice and quiet. This game works really well for younger children. Be sure that everyone gets a turn, if someone is struggling to be quiet, don't punish them by not giving them a turn, help them instead.
Story time is a great opportunity for quiet and relaxation. This could be a short fable or a story book, you could even read a guided relaxation. So many options with this one. Story time is great before bedtime for a reason, it can really help a child to relax, calm and focus.
We have included all kinds of stories in my Yoga classes such as Fox makes Friends by Adam Relf, A child's version of The Wizard of Oz, Listening with my Heart by Gabi Garcia and so much more.
Maybe you're sick, maybe you're just tired but the kids don't get it, they want your attention, now! For those times when you want to play but haven't got the energy, here are three fun games you can play together!
You may also like this previous blog post full of fun ideas for Screen Free Family nights >> Here.
You lay on the sofa, face down on a comfy cushion, maybe you even have a nice blanket on you. The child/children then place one of their toys on your back. You then have to try and guess what toy it is. So simple and yet can be so fun. You can start giving out to the toys saying 'what are you doing on my back 'name', I'm trying to go to sleep'. Then when there is no toy on your back you can start to snore until they find another toy to wake you up.
This is where you get to be the very demanding patient. Asking the children for nonsense things to pass to you or real things like chocolate from the fridge. It is the children's job to make sure you are getting lots of rest and checking up on you.
Don't wake the Giant
This is where you get to hide under your blanket while the children build Lego or blocks around you or even stack cushions on you. They must do it really quietly as to not wake you - the giant. If they wake you, you give a big stretch knocking everything over and off of you, Put on a little bit of a show here before going back to sleep.
All these games require a little effort but not too much and you still get a bit of a lay down. You could also play different talking games like I-spy, read or make up stories or just throw on a movie and cuddle up. Parenting is challenging anyway but on days when you don't feel like doing anything or are feeling run down, it can be soo hard. These games are so handy for times when you are feeling like that.
Which one will you be playing? Have you any other ideas? Let's help each other out here ;P Comment below!