Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
It's Important to slow down sometimes.
Criss Cross Apple Sauce, or otherwise known as easy seat or Sukhasana is one that is often used by children in schools and at home. Traditionally this posture is one used quite often for meditation. Even though it is referred to as easy seat, it is not always easy. The hips need to be open and the back strong and alert. While some can find comfort in this pose, it is important to explore use of props to support this pose, especially if we expect to be there a while (for example during a meditation).
Benefits of this pose
Ways to find support in this pose
There are many ways that we can help children find support in this pose. We could offer a block, or a folder blanket to sit on. We could practice against a wall. We could put blocks underneath the knees and blankets under the ankles. This could even be done sitting up on a chair.
Practice at home
Try this pose (your variation) while seated back-to-back with your child. Can you match each other's breathing? Keep breathing in and out, focusing your awareness on your breath and the connection between you both.
Time 1 or 2 minutes.
Other poses to try at home:
Crocodile pose is a nice one to practice, it can fit into so many themes or can be practiced on its own. This is a great pose to teach diaphragmatic breathing. Benefits include calming the nervous system, reducing stress and tension and it can stimulate digestion.
To practice this pose, your child comes down to lay on their belly and they rest their head on their folded arms. It can help to wiggle from side to side before finding stillness.
Laying on the belly in this way helps bring the feeling of the breath into the back and sides of the body. Guide your child to take a long slow breath, feeling their belly expand like a balloon. As they breathe in, ask them to notice if they can feel their breath in the back of their body. Let them take a few breaths here and then see if they can take their breath to the sides of their body. Invite them just to notice where their breath is going as they breathe in and out.
Want more support in this pose? Try adding a firm pillow lengthways to support the torso while keeping the head and shoulders on the floor.
Comment with SNAP if you're going to be giving this a go with your little ones this week!
Want more inspiration? Check out this pose from last week >> Supported Fish
Did you know this pose can help calm the nervous system, support the immune system and expand and open lungs, which helps with breathing?
It was the perfect choice for today when energy was low and little man wanted to join me in some Yoga practice
To get into the pose:
1.) Take a bolster or rolled up blanket (sausage shape) and lay it lengthways on your mat.
Sit down with the bolster (or blanket) in the small of your back.
2.) Lay your torso and head on the bolster so that they are supported. We also used a small blanket here under the head for added comfort.
3.) Bring your pointing finger and thumb together and gently tap around the heart area. This is said to help immunity. Alternatively, just let the arms relax down by the sides.
4.) Ask your child "how does that feel?"
This pose is a great one after being at school, reading, drawing or hunching over playing video games or practice before bed.
Comment below with your favourite smiley face emoji if you're going to give this pose a go!
Come back next week for the next pose in this series!
Are you always forgetting names or are you amazing at remembering them?
Remembering names for multiple classes can be challenging. It sucks because you really care about these children and want to create strong class bonds, you don't mean to forget their name! The good news is this is about to change! With these fun games you'll be able to remember names so much better but also help the class remember each other's names - one of the first steps in a lasting friendship.
Friendship is always a big part of my children's Yoga classes and if that is important to you too, check out these fun games. I have few tips at the end of this blog post so don't miss them!
Name Name Name
This is probably my classes favourite, but I only really do this one for ages 7+.
Everyone stands in a circle except for one person who stands in the middle (this could be you to start). The person in the middle has to say another person's name three times. The people in the circle must stay alert and focused because if their name is called, they must quickly interrupt by saying the person in the middles name only once. If the person in the middle is successful, they can switch places, if they were interrupted before they could finish then they remain in the middle and try again. This game involves quick thinking and also helps to build that memory of the names of those in your group through the repetition.
Name and share
This is a simple go to game where we pass a ball or prop around and share our name and then one thing that relates to the theme of today's class - favourite animal, something they are grateful for, favourite pose, one thing they hope to learn this term etc. This is a good one to practice as a re-cap, or when you have one new person joining and want to introduce everyone again, but it can also work at the beginning of a new term. It is a really good one for the younger classes too. You can make this more fun by passing the ball with your feet or having to blow a pom pom to the next person, not being able to choose the person next to you or including movement such as poses etc.
Have you met my friend?
This is a great partner activity. Everyone goes into pairs, and they are going to share 3 things each with each other plus their name. After learning these 3 things we meet back in our circle and then we go round the circle introducing our partner. This is fun on its own but if you want to add a little to it with the older students then ask them to exaggerate everything! So, if their partner says they have a dog, they will tell the group "They love dogs so much that they have 5 of them!". If they tell their partner, they like chocolate then they could tell the group "They love chocolate so much, they can't go a day without it!". The more dramatic and exaggerated the funnier. This version works best with teen classes.
In your circle, one by one everyone introduces themselves and shows one yoga pose or movement. For example - Hello my name is Natasha *stands in tree pose*. Everyone says Hello Natasha and then they stand in tree pose. You can say hello again on the other side to balance out any poses that may need both sides practiced.
This carries on with everyone getting a turn. It may be helpful to put out some Yoga cards for inspiration.
This game is much like the previous game. We stand in our circle and introduce ourselves with a pose. The difference is that instead of just saying hello back to that one person we create a chain. For example
Hello my name is Natasha *tree pose*
Hello Natasha *All Stand in tree pose*
Hello my name is Sam *Warrior pose*
Hello Sam *All stand in Warrior pose*, Hello Natasha *all stand in tree pose*
Hello my name is Hattie *Happy baby pose*
Hello Hattie *all come down into happy baby pose*, Hello Sam *warrior pose*, Hello Natasha *tree pose*
This carries on for everyone in the group so it's a real test of memory, not just remembering names but the poses they selected too. Luckily you all have each other to help each other to remember. This only works if the group is not too big, or it could take a very long time! If you do want to play it in a large group I would suggest, starting again after 8 to 10 people.
To balance out the poses that can be practiced on two sides, you could go through it all again on the other side or pause and do both each time.
This one is much like Name and Share where everyone takes turns to introduce themselves and something about the chosen topic, but they do it while laughing. The laugh can be completely fake but by the end it usually ends up very real. This one is good for any age group; the older ones can meet it with some resistance at first which makes it all the funnier when the laughing becomes real.
Which game was your favourite?
Will you be adding any of these games into your classes? Comment below!
And if you have any other games or tips you would like to share, I'd love to hear them!
Here are a few other tips to end with that may help with remembering students' names:
1. Repeat the name back to them on meeting them. Making sure that you are pronouncing it correctly.
2. Have a sign in sheet for each class with your students' names so that you can glance at it before class starts each time.
3. Don't just play the name games at the start of term but throughout.
4. Join in the games yourself, it's important not to just observe but to get in there and play too!
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Looking for more lesson inspiration? Check out my lesson plans here: Etsy