Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
When the clouds bring us rain, it can leave us pretty limited as to what to do at the moment. Sure we can still get out and enjoy nature but what if we feel like hiding out at home for some of it? How can we still stay active and avoid boredom?
With yoga of course!
Here are three games that we love to play at home rain or shine!
Toe-ga is 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.
All you need is some pom poms and a pot (cake tin, mixing bowl etc). Pour the pom poms into the middle and then everyone uses their feet to pick up the individual pom poms and place them into the pot/ bowl. I like to use different sizes to change things up. This is a great way to work those toe muscles in a gentle and fun way. It is simple, fun and easy to clean up!
Follow the leader
Sometimes the simplest games are the best one! If there are 2 people playing, stand to face each other. If there are three or more, stand in a circle or pair up.
You can include some yoga poses, some funny dances, jumping over things and so much more. Be sure to go first so that you can show them a few possibilities and then let everyone have a turn to be the leader.
Rock, Paper, scissors
Start by asking the child / children what they think ‘rock’ would look like. We usually go for a pose that looks most like child’s pose or knees to chest. Then do the same for paper and scissors.
Get into partners if there are more than two of you. If there is an odd number, someone can play on the next round. Once in a partnership, stand back to back with one another. As you count one, take one step forward. Two, take another. Three, and another. Say ‘Draw’ and quickly get into your poses, either rock, paper, or scissors.
As we do not have winners and losers in our yoga practice instead, we focus on how we can join these poses together. We sometimes stack the rocks, scissor massage the rocks (chopping hand motion), join the scissors together by coming into a double boat kind of posture and so on. The possibilities are limited only to the imagination. Then we go again.
Free ABC YOGA CARD GAME
Another resource you may find useful is my free ABC Yoga Card deck download with pose guide and game ideas. You can find that here.
There! Three great yoga games that you can play at home! Will you be trying any of these games? Would you like to see more game ideas or have you got any that you would like to share with others? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Loving Kindess walking meditation
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness and meditation. There is no one right way or one way that suits all. You may even just be looking to mix things up a bit. This is a wonderful meditation that both children and adults can benefit from. If you are practicing with a child just guide them through the process.
With the weather a little warmer it can be quite nice to take our meditation practice outside and I know for us, we have really needed it. A chance to unwind, process emotions and come back to ourselves.
This meditation is quite a well known for improving wellbeing, reducing stress and for practicing self acceptance. It can also be a good one for improving our relationships with others, allowing us to be compassionate and choosing love.
You should allow ten minutes for this meditation. I love practicing this when I am walking out in nature, whether its a park or a beach but you can practice anywhere, just be sure to keep a safe awareness around you i.e. watch out for traffic etc.
Start by bringing an awareness to your body as you walk. How does it feel? How does it move? Is your breathing fast or slow? Next, repeat these loving kindness phrases as you walk:
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I experience ease.
If your inner critic makes an appearance, practice self compassion. Gently but firmly close the door on that mean voice and come back to repeating the phrases. Repeat these five times and then move on to the next part.
Now, start sending out this loving kindness to someone you love, whom you think might need it right now.
May they be safe.
May they be happy.
May they be healthy.
May they experience ease.
Silently repeat these phrases five times
Next we focus on sending love to someone we don't know. Maybe you see someone walking past you, or off in the distance.
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you experience ease.
Now imagine all of you together. Yourself, your friend/person you love and the stranger.
May we all be safe.
May we all be happy.
May we all be healthy.
May we all experience ease.
After repeating this five times, bring your attention back to your breath. Notice any sensations or feelings that have come up or any insights that you may have gained through doing this meditation. You may even like to set an intention to bring these feelings of love, kindness and community with you into your day.
This is such a beautiful practice, maybe now more than ever. We are all connected and one and going through something so surreal. Let us do what we can to look after our own health and wellness while hoping it for all around us too.
Please let me know if you try this out and share any experiences you would like to in the comments.
The Stream of thoughts
What is on our minds? Often a whole bunch of things. It can get very overwhelming. In this practice we look at slowing down. Letting go of our thoughts, even just for this moment, to come back to ourselves. We begin to notice feeling emotions, questions, sensations, worries and thoughts. Taking the time to do this can allow you to release nervous energy and of what is troubling you and allows you just to take the time to breath. This exercise is great for teenagers and adults. It can be practiced together or alone.
It can help to have someone guide you through this or you may like read this in full and then set yourself a timer of 10 to 15 minutes to practice this activity.
Take a cross legged position on the ground or sit up nice and tall on a chair. You may like to close your eyes, or take a soft gaze in front of you. As we start to still ourselves, we may notice a lot of thoughts running through our minds. Notice this, and then bring your attention to your breath.
Take five long, deep breaths to help calm and settle you into this moment.
Now imagine yourself sitting on a grassy hill, Maybe you are sat up against a tree or on a nice blanket. Feel the warmth of the sun shining down on you as you breath in that nice fresh air. Next to you is a stream. Notice how the water is flowing. Is it flowing quickly or slowly? Does it seem calm or hurried?
As you sit here, bring your awareness back to your thoughts. As a thought pops into your head, notice it. Notice if your body reacted to it in anyway. Notice if your breath changed at all. Now take this thought and place it on the stream. Watch as the flowing water takes it away, Do this as many times as you need to do. Some thoughts may be harder to let go, they may find their way back but just repeat the process.
Now bring your focus back to your breath. Can you keep it here or is there a thought that keeps popping up? Acknowledge it and send it down the stream.
When your timer goes off, take a few deep breaths, wiggle your fingers and your toes a few times and gently come back to the room.
You may choose to journal after your experience. Did any thoughts keep coming up? Had you been aware of them before? Is this something that you can ask for help with?
You can repeat this process as often as needed. Practicing regularly will help you to calm your mind for longer periods. It will also help you to check in with your body and mind and tap into the parasympathetic nervous system (a rest and digest state). We switch from worrying to nurturing our bodies systems for long term health including digestion, repair and immunity.
You may like to visit this blog on Self love, that inner critic and breaking out of comfort zones: Click Here
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!