Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
9/30/2023 0 Comments
Children who have developed emotional intelligence are better able to communicate their feelings and needs, and they are more empathetic towards others. This leads to better friendships, less conflict, and a more positive outlook on life. They are better able to manage stress and challenges that come their way.
Practicing Yoga and Mindfulness
One of the most effective ways to help children develop emotional intelligence is through practicing yoga and mindfulness. Yoga and mindfulness help children become more aware of their thoughts and feelings while teaching them how to regulate their emotions in a healthy way. By learning to focus on the present moment, children can learn to manage their emotions and reduce stress and anxiety.
Playful Games and Activities
Incorporating yoga and mindfulness into your child's daily routine can be a fun activity that you can do together. Here are a few examples of playful ways that can help develop emotional intelligence in children:
1. Yoga Poses
Yoga poses can help children develop body awareness, balance, and concentration. You can encourage your child to try different poses such as the tree pose, downward facing dog, and moving between cat and cow pose using the breath. You can use yoga cards or play games such as Yogi says (much like Simon says! but instead 'Yogi' gives the instruction) to make this even more playful. You get more game ideas here.
2. Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing is a simple yet effective way to help children regulate their emotions. Encourage your child to take slow breaths in and out, and to focus on the sensation of the air moving in and out of their body.
3. Emotion Charades
Emotion charades is a game where children act out different emotions such as happy, sad, angry, and scared. This game can help children recognize and understand different emotions. Use your whole body or just facial expressions. I like to use a coloured sensory scarf to drape over our faces so full attention is on each other, blocking everything else out. I also like to play mirror my face using this same concept, where the other person tries to mirror what the other person is expressing.
4. Gratitude Journaling
Encourage your child to keep a gratitude journal where they write down or draw things they are thankful for each day. This activity can help children develop a positive outlook on life and increase their emotional resilience. It is amazing how many things skip us by when we don't think about it. Things we really were grateful for in that moment, skip us by because of our busy lives or we were on to the next thing. By taking time to slow down and think about those things again, not only do we get to remember everything we are thankful for but we get to experience and tap into that feeling of gratitude once again.
By teaching your child to be more mindful and aware of their emotions, you'll be setting them up for a happier and more fulfilling life. Incorporating playful games and activities into your child's daily routine can make learning emotional intelligence fun and engaging. So, start practicing yoga and mindfulness with your child today and watch them grow into emotionally intelligent individuals.
The intention of this challenge is to really help your child learn how to check in with how they are feeling, identify different emotions and start to practice ways to calm themselves down.
This challenge aims to help families develop emotional intelligence through awareness, support and expression. The practices selected for each day are intended to promote physical and emotional well-being.
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9/24/2023 0 Comments
Today we are going to talk about a very important style of yoga that is often overlooked when it comes to practicing with children - restorative yoga. As a children's yoga teacher, I understand that some people might think it's impossible for young children to sit still and be calm. I often share about how children do not need to sit still and be calm to practice yoga! I have two wild ones myself and I know if I tell them to sit still and be calm.....it’s not going to happen easily. You know those moment where you’re sat in a nice restaurant and the food is taking a bit too long and your little one is starting to get restless and they start climbing on the seat and you tell them to sit down but you can see their hold body is desperate to move around - Yes, I get it. Staying still can be challenging.
The Nervous System
First, let's talk about the nervous system. Children's nervous systems are still developing, and they can easily become overstimulated by the world around them. When this happens, they might become hyperactive or irritable. Restorative yoga can help to calm the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation.
So, what does restorative yoga look like for young children? It doesn't have to be a long practice - even just a few minutes of stillness and deep breathing can make a big difference. I like to call restorative yoga, cosey yoga with my little ones. We make it as cosey as we can by using props such as bolsters, cushions and blankets.
The Sleeping Butterfly
One of my favourite restorative poses for young children is the "sleeping butterfly." Have your child lie on their back with the soles of their feet together and their knees out to the sides. Place a small pillow or blanket under their head and play some soothing music. Encourage them to take slow breaths in and out. If they would like to they can close their eyes or use an eye pillow! (Comment below if you'd like to see a tutorial for how to make your own with the children at home!)
Variations: Bring more support into this pose by placing yoga blocks or cushions under the child's knees and even their hands.
You can also practice this pose using a bolster.
To practice sleeping butterfly pose with a bolster, start by placing a bolster or rolled up blanket behind your child, so they are sitting against the bottom of it. Then have them bring the soles of their feet together and their knees out to the sides, like the wings of a butterfly.
Next, gently encourage your child to recline back onto the bolster, supporting their head and shoulders against it, allowing them to relax and deepen the stretch in their hips. Once they are comfortable, encourage your child to breathe deeply and relax into the pose. You can also guide them in imagining that they are a butterfly, flapping their wings and flying through the air.
See how to practice ‘The Sleeping Butterfly Pose’ by watching this tutorial >>
By incorporating restorative yoga into your family's yoga practice, you are not only helping your child to calm their nervous system, but you are also setting a good example for them. Rest is just as important as movement, and by prioritizing both in your family's yoga practice, you are helping your child to develop a well-rounded yoga practice that will serve them for years to come.
So, let's all take a deep breath together and remember - rest is just as important as movement. Happy resting, yogi family!
Other Blog Posts of interest
How to meditate without staying still
9/17/2023 0 Comments
Drive Your Way to Mindful Play
Joining their world of play
I sat down and I started to play with the cars with my son (on our yoga mat). After playing his way, I asked him if he could make a tunnel by doing a downward facing dog and I would see if I could get the cars through with a big push. He was excited to try this out! We did a few like this, taking it in turns and then I wanted to add the breath too. I asked if he could try blow the cars down as they drove - this was quite funny because some of the cars did coincidently roll over because of the way I had pushed them but it looked like he was flipping them over with his breath.
We tried a few different poses to see which ones would make good tunnels (and which ones wouldn’t!). Then he had an idea, what if we made our body into a ramp! We explored which poses would make good ramps! Driving the cars up and down each pose was lots of fun and sound effects were definitely a welcome part of this practice. Next, we sat opposite each other and basically played pass the car, taking turns to push it to each other. But, because we wanted to make this part of our yoga practice, we incorporated our breath. We breathed in as I pushed the car to him, and breathed out as he pushed the car to me.
This is one of my favourite practices to do near the end of a family yoga session - the steam roller! For this I get my bolster as my child lays on their stomach and I roll it over them like a steam roller. This can also be done with a cushion, smooshing each part of their body down (in fact we do this with a cushion every night right now too as part of his bedtime routine). The gentle pressure is really calming and grounding (just make sure you’re checking in with them that it feels good, and asking if they want more, less or to stop). Then switch around! Only smoosh gently and not on the face of course! Just lightly on the body, arms and legs.
Bonus way to practice this is by getting them to be the steam roller! I share this practice in this video >>
Now there was some peaking, but that’s okay, he stayed there while I encouraged him to breathe slowly and I put the toy cars on him. I put them on his legs, arms, belly and chest. When he opened his eyes and we were done, I said okay let’s see if we got them all and I started to take the cars off slowly as I counted them - this gave him a little extra time in his resting pose. Remember you are not looking for this to be a certain way, it doesn't even have to be a super calm and quiet moment. The main goal here is to be present and focus on connection.
Then he wanted me to have a go at laying in savasana, which I very reluctantly did. Joke, I was delighted. I laid down and closed my eyes very happily. He even got a picture of the cars balanced on me after.
Now that I am writing this, I wonder if we could have done more than 12 cars?! Can you do more than 12? Try this car practice with your child and let me know how many cars you can balance on your child or they can balance on you while lying in savasana (resting pose).
I will give a special prize to anyone who can send me a video or picture on Instagram tagging me @amazing_me_yoga ;)
Mia from Playful Heart Parenting kindly shared some games to add to this blog post for the car enthusiasts here! I love her playful approach to parenting and she shares such imaginative ideas! Here is what she shared:
Toy cars just have that timeless appeal when it comes to lighting up a child’s world with wonder and joy. But, let’s be honest — the thought of getting down on the floor and just rolling the car back and forth might feel more like a chore than a chance to connect with your kid. Here are a few out-of-the-box, creative ways to have fun with your kids with toy cars that will spark creativity and connection:
Mia has so much to share about play! I absolutely love the gems she shares! Go and have a look at her other posts at playfulheartparenting.com and connect with her over on Instagram at @playfulheartparenting
Other posts of interest:
Three games you can play at home to beat rainy day boredom
Here are some ways that parents and teachers can encourage play and help children develop to their fullest potential.
1. Encourage imaginative play
Children have amazing imaginations, and by giving them the space and materials to play, you are helping them to think creatively and develop problem-solving skills. Whether it's building a fort out of blankets or creating a story with action figures, imaginative play allows children to explore their own ideas and develop their own solutions.
2. Make time for outdoor play
Not only does outdoor play help children develop their gross motor skills and improve their physical health, but it also encourages them to engage with nature. Whether it's climbing trees, playing tag, or simply exploring the world around them, children can learn so much from being outside and experiencing the world first hand.
3. Play with your child
It's also important to play with your child. Playing together not only helps to build a strong bond, but it also helps to develop their social skills and emotional intelligence. Whether it's playing a game of catch, practicing partner poses, or doing a puzzle together, taking the time to play with your child can have a big impact on their development.
4. Use play as a teaching tool
Play can also be used as a teaching tool. By using play to teach new concepts and skills, you can make learning fun and engaging for your child. Whether it's playing a game to learn math or using puppets to teach language skills, incorporating play into learning can help your child develop a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
This is also why children's yoga has so many playful elements involved. Yoga can help children develop mindfulness, self-awareness, and relaxation skills, which are all important for managing stress and anxiety. By incorporating playful elements like animal poses, songs, and games, children's yoga becomes a fun and engaging way for children to learn these skills.
5. Make time for play
It's important to make play a priority in your child's life. With busy schedules and endless distractions, it can be easy to forget the importance of play. But by making play a priority, you are helping your child to develop into a well-rounded, happy individual.
As a tired and busy parent myself, I know how hard it can be to tap into our own playful sides. But by taking the time to play with our children and encouraging their imaginative play, we are helping them to develop to their fullest potential. So why not take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and go and play? Your child (and your inner child) will thank you!
Need some inspiration?
Those who know me would be able to tell you that I am passionate about teaching children how to care for their well-being. I do this through playful games and fun activities. In my membership Family Yoga Game Night I include imaginative play, connecting with nature, playing with each other, playing as a teaching tool and I help even the busiest of families make time for play!
Incorporating imaginative play into your yoga sessions is a fantastic way to engage children's minds and keep them interested in what they're doing. By encouraging them to use their imaginations, you're also helping them to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills, which will serve them well throughout their lives.
You'll never be short of playful ideas, as each month you'll get access to a collection of games, mindful practices and yoga sequences. Perfect for your home practices or for teachers to use in their lesson plans.
Enrolment is now open!
What is Family Yoga Game Night?
Discover how to effortlessly manage stress and anxiety, create and maintain healthy family routines, and connect with other parents in a supportive community.
This is your opportunity to finally address the challenges of raising emotionally intelligent children in a meaningful way, with the guidance and accountability of experienced children's yoga teachers.
This is the only online course that offers age-appropriate activities and resources for children aged 4 to 12, while also empowering parents to develop emotional regulation skills and let go of societal expectations.
Join us and discover the transformative power of practicing yoga and mindfulness with your children.
Click here to see what is included in Family Yoga Game Night.
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