Yoga Hunts and Mindful Games - Easter fun with children
Easter is a great time to engage in fun and mindful activities with your child. Yoga and mindfulness games are a perfect way to celebrate this holiday while keeping children active and supporting their wellbeing. Here are some ideas for incorporating yoga and mindfulness into your Easter celebrations.
Create an Easter egg hunt with a twist by adding yoga poses to the mix. Write yoga poses on small pieces of paper and place them inside plastic eggs (if you have them already, if not let's be more environmentally friendly by just doing cardboard egg shapes! I promise, it works just as well!). Hide the eggs (or egg shapes) around your garden or home and have kids search for them. Once they find an egg, they must perform the yoga pose inside (or what is written on the shape). This is a fun way to get kids moving and practicing yoga while searching for eggs.
No time to plan? I have you covered! I have a free Yoga hunt pack available to print off (with some egg-cellent jokes may I add) available here:
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Mindfulness Games and practices
Another way to incorporate mindfulness into your Easter celebrations is by playing mindfulness games. One game that kids love is the "mindful breathing" game. Have kids sit in a circle and take turns holding a small object, like a stuffed animal or egg. Each child takes a deep breath, then passes the object to the next person in the circle. The intention is to focus on the breath and stay present in the moment.
Another fun mindfulness game is "mindful listening." Ask the children to close their eyes (or take a soft gaze down in front) and listen carefully to the sounds around them. After a few minutes of listening, have them share what they heard. What is the furthest away thing that they could hear? What was the closest thing? Could they hear their own breath? What about the person next to thems' breath? This is a great way to help kids tune into their senses and become more aware of their surroundings.
Don't wake the Easter Bunny!
One person lays in the middle of the room with a Easter egg beside them, this is the Easter Bunny. The bunny is guarding the egg but is very tired. Everyone else gathers in a circle at the edges of the room. As the ‘bunny’ sleeps, the children must sneak up to get the egg (this could be a real Easter egg which could then be a prize or just a pretend one. If the bunny hears any noise, he/she/they can wake up and scare everyone back to the start. If someone is successful in getting the egg without waking the bunny, the game can end here (and maybe they get to keep the egg, take it in turns to allow everyone to win one) or for something extra they have to get it to a certain spot before the bunny wakes and chases them. If they get caught, the game starts again. It’s fun to switch turns so that everyone can have a turn being the bunny.
Another fun mindful practice is taking a 'Rainbow Walk.' Take a walk out in nature or use this activity on a walk to school or the shops etc. It can be a fun way to walk mindfully. Look around and see if you can see something for each colour of the rainbow.
Can you see something that is red? Orange? Yellow? Green? Blue? Indigo? Violet?
With Easter eggs being in huge supply at Easter, how could we not take this time to mention a 'Chocolate meditation'?
This one is a lot of fun for kids and adults alike! Just be sure to choose a chocolate that is suitable for everyone you are practicing with (e.g. Nut free, vegan etc). If the children are comfortable with it, allow them to close their eyes. Then place a piece of chocolate into each person’s hand. Instruct them to feel the chocolate in their hands and smell it for a moment before they place it on to their tongue. When on their tongue ask them to bring attention to how it feels in their mouth. Can they feel what shape it is with their tongue? What tastes are they getting? Explain that there is no need to answer these questions out loud, rather just in their own heads and then you can have a discussion at the end. Now can they feel the chocolate start to melt? How does that taste? Where can they taste it? Allow this time mindfully having the chocolate with your prompts and when everyone is finished discussing how they felt about that practice. You may like to repeat and give no instruction, just allow them to experience it in their own way in quietness.
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Easter is a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends. Incorporating yoga and mindfulness games into your celebrations can help kids stay active, focused, and mindful. By adding these ideas into your family traditions, you can create a fun and meaningful Easter experience for kids of all ages.
What is your child's favourite thing about Easter? Comment Below!
And don't forget to get your free Yoga hunt print out, this will help make Yoga fun and engaging for your child this holiday.
teach your child how to fill their cup with these 7 tips
What does the term ‘fill your cup’ mean?
Do you know at the end of a long day, where you’ve helped everyone with everything, and you just feel done? You’re ready to climb into bed, and feel like if one more person touches you or asks for anything, it is possible that you may go insane? This is when your cup is empty. You've been pouring from it all day, filling up everyone else’s cup but leaving nothing for yourself. Maybe someone will come along and fill it up for you, but quite often, you need to find ways to fill it back up yourself.
The same goes for our children. Their cups drain and empty just like ours, and while we try to fill it up for them, it is important that they know how to fill it up themselves too.
7 tips to help you teach your child to fill their cup
Tip #1 Start with self-awareness
Self-awareness is so important when it comes to practicing self-care. Without it, how will children know what their body and mind are trying to tell them? How will they know what care they need?
Read more about the importance of Self-awareness here.
A great place to start with self-awareness is to do a check in. I'll be posting a video for a simple, quick practice that you can do with your child to check in with the body, mind and breath. Look for this at the end of this post.
Tip #2 Notice how you fill your cup
What lessons are your children learning from you? How are you modelling self-care? How do you manage stress in front of them? It can help to talk through what you’re doing sometimes. Instead of just disappearing for 5 minutes because you need a break. Tell them you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed and just need to breathe for 5 minutes. Sometimes invite them to do this with you (when you have the headspace to do so, sometimes you really do just want them 5 minutes alone and that is okay too). Never blame them for the stress or say “You’re stressing me out so I need 5 minutes.” but just that you are feeling that way. Tell them what helps you when you do feel that way. Talk about what you enjoyed when you were a child with them.
What you do for self-care is probably not going to be what they do for self-care. They may try it out, but they are going to find their own path. Don’t force something because you like the way it makes you feel, just model it. It’s enough that you are showing that you have self-care practices, they’ll feel inspired to have their own, even if it’s something completely different.
Tip #3 Fill your cup together!
Just as we can fill our own cups or each other's cups, we can also fill our cups together! Do something your child loves with them, or something you both enjoy. Spend this time together, connecting and being really present. It could be reading, baking, rock climbing, going on a day trip or holiday, swimming - anything that lights you up and makes you feel good, peaceful or just simply present.
Tip #4 Saying No is self-care
Sometimes your child may not want to do something that you would like them to do or that someone else wants them to do. Listen to them when they say no and support their choice. Society has made it so we are so praised for being busy, and this has started to spill over on to our children. So many after school activities, family get togethers, homework and chores - sometimes it can get too much. Just like we need a break, so do they. Let them know that it’s okay to say no to something when they need a break. It’s not lazy or naughty - sometime’s it’s self-care.
Expression is a form of self-care. Quite often children are not asked their opinion on things enough. Expressing how they feel, even if it goes against what we think is ‘best’, is so important and we need to hold space for them to do that.
Tip #5 Make it a routine
How can you encourage them to make self-care part of their daily routines? How do you make it part of your routine? Is there something you do each night before bed or when you wake up in the morning? Self-care is so unique to all of us so it really is up to each individual person and family to see what works for them, but whatever that is, keep going with it.
Tip #6 Self-care isn’t always doing - sometimes it's nothing
Sometimes it’s not a plan or something scheduled, it’s just a rest where there is nothing to process or do, just rest. It can be as simple as laying down on the sofa or putting your head on a desk for a few moments.
Tip #7 Have fun!
Outside of schedules and plans, what does your child like to do that just makes them happy? What do they want to do more of? What absolutely lights them up? How can they do more of this?
Fun is something that is often underrated, when in fact it is so important - for children and adults!
How do they know what it is that brings them joy?
It comes back to tip number 1!
I’m sharing this with you today because I strongly believe that self-care is an essential tool to teach our children to support their wellbeing. Yoga is an amazing practice that can support your family with self-care practices. It can help with all of the 7 tips I shared here today, my favourite is that it can help your family to release stress and tension, calm the mind and actually allow you to enjoy rest.
Rest can feel so frustrating when your brain is telling you that you should be doing something or that you need to be busy or moving around. Yoga can help prepare your body and mind for rest and bring you into a state of calm that feels safe to rest in. It can get the wiggles out, not just in the body but in the mind too. Yes, I said it, your mind can be wriggly! So let's get the wiggles out and find a space where we can just be. This is how we can teach children to fill their cups.
I have shared 7 tips with you that will help your child to fill their cup and practice self-care. In this post we have looked at the importance of self-awareness, your own practices and habits as a parent, the importance of connection and spending time together, boundaries, routines, taking time when we need it and not as part of a schedule and also the benefits of having fun.
If you haven't already, check out the video about doing a 'check in' with your child below.
Get your free guide here: Calm Seas
For more tips and practices that will help your child fill their cup, manage big emotions and have some fun, join the Amazing Me Yoga Community on Facebook >>
Supporting your family with Yoga and mindfulness
Other Blog posts of interest
Discovering yourself - A journey of self-awareness for children
5 Simple yoga poses that can support your child's emotional wellbeing
Have at attitude of gratitude
Discovering Yourself: A Journey of Self-Awareness for Kids
This place gets crazy at the weekend, but the kids love it. They were jumping and playing for the whole hour, coming back to me with their little red faces, ready for a drink, when they were done.
As we are walking out, after the playing and after our food, my youngest stops, sits down and puts his hands in the soil of a plant pot at the bench.
Now we all want to get home at this point and in the past I could have been tempted to rush him along or tell him to stop, but I stopped with him to let him have this moment. He was completely present with the feel of the soil in his fingers, paying no attention to anything around him, not caring about what others would think. He was just at peace with the earth.
I know how when we go to places like this, no matter how much fun he has, the overstimulation is a lot for him to handle. It comes out after in all kinds of ways especially if we don’t take time to transition from one task or activity to the next. In this moment, he wasn’t just sticking his hands in the dirt for the sake of it, but because he was practicing self-regulation. He was grounding himself with this sensory experience.
He can do this with ease because we practice self-awareness.
Self-awareness is an important skill for children to cultivate as it allows them to understand their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations. It also helps them to recognize their strengths, weaknesses, and understand their own unique needs. When children are not self-aware, they can struggle to make decisions, cope with stress, and manage their emotions. This can lead to increased anxiety, stress, and feelings of helplessness.
Yoga can be an effective tool to help children become more self-aware. Yoga encourages children to focus on their breath, body, and emotions. It can help them to become mindful of their mental and physical states, allowing them to better understand and recognize their own patterns of thinking and feeling. Yoga can also teach children how to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and build resilience. In addition, yoga provides children with an opportunity to connect with the present moment and cultivate a sense of calm. All of these aspects of yoga can help children to become more self-aware and empowered to make decisions that are in their best interest.
Practicing mindfulness as a family can help promote self-awareness among family members and create an environment of understanding and support. Mindfulness helps individuals recognize their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to events in a non-judgmental way. By coming together as a family to practice mindfulness, you help create a safe space for children to express their feelings and learn from each other.
For example, take the story of the Baxter family. They all had busy lives with school, sports clubs, work etc, but after a suggestion from a friend, they decided to try mindfulness as a family. They started by spending some time each day sitting together in a comfortable, quiet space. Each person was encouraged to take a few moments to focus on their breath and observe their thoughts and feelings.
After just a few weeks, the Baxter family began to notice positive changes. They were more aware of their emotions and how they were affecting their actions. They could also better recognize how their behaviour was impacting each other. The family members also became more patient and understanding of each other's needs and feelings.
Overall, the Baxter family's life changed for the better. They were able to better communicate their emotions and needs to each other, leading to more connection and love. Mindfulness helped them become more self-aware and live more intentional lives.
This is possible for your family too.
A great family activity for cultivating self-awareness is to play a game of “I Spy.” Each family member can take turns describing something they see in the room, such as the colour of the furniture or the shape of a picture frame. As the game progresses, family members can get more creative and describe their feelings, likes, and dislikes about their surroundings. This game helps children and adults alike practice observing the environment around them and understanding how their words and feelings can affect their experience.
We have started practicing another version of this in the morning when waking up. We start out day with a big 'good morning' stretch. We take a slow breath. Then we then look around the room and name three things we like.
This is such a lovely way to wake up mindfully. Give it a try together this week!
If you are interested in helping your child with big emotions and self-awareness. Check out my free booklet ‘Calm Seas’ > Download now
Other posts of interest:
What you need to know about self-regulation and your child
Have an attitude of gratitude
Three games you can play at home on a rainy day
5 Simple Yoga Poses that can support your child’s emotional wellbeing
As parents, we want our children to grow up healthy and happy. We want to support their wellbeing and make sure they are managing challenges and daily stressors in a healthy way.
Yes, Children experience stress too.
One way we can help support our child’s emotional wellbeing is through yoga. Yoga supports physical and emotional development in children, and can be a great tool for teaching them about their emotions and how to manage them in a fun way.
In this post, we’ll explore what emotional wellbeing is, why it’s so important for children, and how yoga can help foster it. We’ll also look at practical tips for introducing yoga to children including 5 simple poses to nurture emotional wellbeing in children.
Thanks for joining me on this journey, for more support with children’s wellbeing and Yoga, be sure to check out my Calm Seas guide here>> Family Yoga - Calm seas
I talk more about this topic on my new wellbeing chats series on Youtube. You can Subscribe>>here<<
What is emotional wellbeing?
Emotional wellbeing refers to the ability to manage one’s emotions in a healthy way, to be aware of one’s thoughts and feelings and to express them appropriately. Expressing your emotions appropriately means understanding and being aware of your feelings and responding to them in a healthy way.
Why is it so important for children?
This is important for children so that they are able to recognize how they feel, and navigate challenges and difficulties that come up each day. We all have stress in our lives, and we can’t bubble wrap our kids from it. We can provide them a safe space, a comforting shoulder and help them learn the tools they’ll need to meet these daily stressors, including learning about healthy coping skills. It is also important for children so that they can build meaningful relationships with others, handle disappointment, and manage other difficult emotions.
How can yoga support emotional wellbeing for children?
Yoga can help children with emotional wellbeing by giving them the space to slow down, to check in with themselves, to release built up stress and tension from the day, to find playful ways to elevate their mood and balance their energy, to bridge the connection between body and mind, and to practice self-awareness including awareness of how they feel in their body.
We can use Yoga and Play to learn about different emotions, to explore how we feel different feelings, and allow ourselves to just feel. It’s not always about moving through different emotions, sometimes we just need to sit with it or be with it, and know that it is okay to do so.
This is where the practice of Ahimsa in Yoga can come in. Ahimsa is one of the Yamas in the Yoga Sutras. To practice Ahimsa is to practice non-harm. This can include ourselves, physically and emotionally. So how this relates to emotional wellbeing could be meeting ourselves with compassion, allowing ourselves to feel the way we do without shame or judgment. Children can also practice non harm towards others when they are feeling big emotions, so not hitting and instead practicing a coping skill.
3 Practical tips for introducing yoga to your child
5 Simple Yoga Poses to Promote Emotional Wellbeing in Children
Legs up the wall pose
This is a great one for slowing down and encouraging children to rest. Rest is essential for children's emotional wellbeing, as it helps to reduce stress, promote healthy brain development, and foster a sense of balance and security. When children are able to take time to relax and unwind, it can help them to manage difficult emotions, such as fear and anger, as well as promoting positive feelings, such as happiness and contentment. Rest also gives children time to recharge and can help them to better focus and concentrate on their daily activities.
How to practice: This is a wonderful restorative pose that helps your body to relax and restore. Start by sitting sideways against a wall and then swing your legs around so that you are laying on your back with your legs up the wall. Doing it this way will help you to get your bottom as close to the wall as you can. Straighten your legs, resting your heels on the wall. Your arms can rest beside you or bring them to your belly. Anytime you need a break during this pose you can bring your legs into a butterfly position by bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together. The more you practice this pose the longer you will be able to stay in it for. Try staying in this pose for at least two minutes or for as long as you feel you need to.
What we practice on the mat, we take with us off the mat. One thing we want to support our children with is facing challenges and breathing through them, so let’s practice a challenging pose together on the mat. Warrior 3 is a great challenge because it requires focus and determination and can also be supported using props. Challenges don’t always mean doing things alone, sometimes we need support. This support could be helping each other to balance, using a wall or getting support from a chair.
I love how this pose encourages us to take up space. Just like our feelings deserve to be seen and heard. We shouldn’t have to play small or hide away. This pose can also be paired with an affirmation that makes your child feel empowered. Here are a few examples you may like to choose from, or create your own one together.
There you have it! 5 simple yoga poses to promote emotional wellbeing in children. Which one is your favourite? Comment below!
Have you got your Free Guide all about self-regulation, coping skills and how you can help your child with big emotions? Check it out here> > Calm Seas
Other Blog posts of interest
What is self-regulation?
Did you know that Yoga, play and breathing practices are all great ways that can help with self-regulation?
Learning ways to self regulate can help children properly process the things that are going on around them and react calmly when things don't go their way.
It is not about suppressing or ignoring any difficult or uncomfortable emotions but about not letting them take over and make children behave in a way that they don't actually want.
A child who is dysregulated may:
Self-regulation is a set of skills that help children understand their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, as well as the emotions, thoughts, and behaviours of those around them. It helps children to manage their reactions and responses in a positive way. It also helps them develop the ability to stay focused, make good decisions, and practice self-control. With self-regulation, children can learn to take responsibility for their own behaviour, set goals, and work towards achieving them. This can help them to become better problem solvers and more self-confident
Self-regulation skills are key to children understanding how to calm themselves when needed such as when they're feeling angry, frustrated, anxious, worried or excited.
This helps children to navigate the world and meet new challenges. These could be scenarios such as waiting their turn, going to a busy shop, not getting the toy that they wanted, leaving a parent, going to a new place or managing disappointment.
Interestingly, the process of learning self-regulation begins when they are babies. They learn a lot through watching and observing you! It continues to develop into adulthood, but even as adults, we need tools to help us!
Here are some fun ways to practice self-regulation for children
When is the best time to start practicing some of these ideas? Yesterday, but since you can't do that, today will work fine too. My point is, that it is never too early to start and these practices can be embraced at any age, even adults can benefit from these practices, as we never stop experiencing stressful or challenging circumstances that may need us to check in with ourselves and regulate our emotions.
Download My Free toolkit for helping children with self-regulation
Other blog posts of interest:
My ultimate list of books that help children identify their emotions
Five minute mindfulness for children
Everything you need to plan your Valentine's Yoga Class with Children!Read Now
Happy Valentine's day!
Did you know that the first valentine's day was in year 496?
While some people believe Valentine's day to be a very commercial day, it is rich with history and traditions. While the celebration has changed through the years, I think that the underlying theme of love has always been strong. When I think about love and Yoga, I think about Anahata - the fourth chakra.
The fourth chakra acts as a bridge, connecting our outer relationships with our inner worlds, joining the physical and the spiritual.
Seven themes to play with when planning your class
Choose one of these themes to focus your class around.
Seven poses to include
The breath and the heart
Our breath is one of the key components to opening the heart chakra. Bring an awareness to the breath through out the class and give one of the below practices a try with your group.
Heart meditation - Placing your hands together at the heart, closing the eyes or softening the gaze and taking a few moments just to breathe into your heart space.
Ho'oponopono Meditation - I found one on Youtube here.
Meditate on the colour green - Use colourful props or a visual journey including green spring leaves
Metta Meditation - This loving kindness meditation is a wonderful one to end with. I remember practicing this around Christmas time with one of the schools I was visiting and one of the children thought I was saying "May you live with ears" Instead of "May you live with ease". You can find many scripts online for loving kindness meditations, I will definitely share more about this at a later time.
No children's Yoga class is complete without a game or two! I like to play these games nearer the start of class or after our pose practice.
Love Tower - Write poses and actions on Jenga blocks. Play the game as normal but practicing the poses on the blocks as they get pulled out.
The Hugging Game (great for Family Yoga classes) - Hugs have so many benefits! They can strengthen our immune system, balance the nervous system and are a great way to show your love and support. It is however especially important to ensure that the child wants to be hugged. Hugging is only beneficial if it feels safe and comfortable for both parties and consent should be practiced even if your child loves hugs with you usually.
Choose someone to be the hugger. They then go to the other side of the room. They then run, skip, dance or move like and animal towards someone and gives them a big hug. They may like to stay here for about 10 seconds to allow that oxytocin to start pouring through. The person who got hugged then becomes the new hugger. This can be played with adults and their children or with children in the group. It could even be like a game of tag but with hugs!
My heart will go on -
I got to play this game with a fantastic teacher during one of my trainings. I am not sure what the name of the game was originally, but I have called it ‘my heart will go on’ because we played this to a certain popular song. This game is played in pairs. Choose a song (one that isn’t too long) and decide who will be the dancer and who will be the creator. The dancer must close their eyes while the creator moves the dancers’ body to the music. It may help to be the creator the first time you play this together and then swap. The creator moves one thing at a time such as a leg tapping up and down. The dancer must keep this momentum going. If the creator was to move the dancers' arms up and down, the dancer must keep that movement going – up and down, up and down, until the creator taps to stop or moves them into a different movement. The foot may be tapping as the creator then guides the dancers’ arm to go out and in. So multiple movements can take place but try to keep it quite simple. It can feel very free to get lost in the music and let your body be guided.
When the song is over the same song is going to be replayed. The creator will step back, and the dancer will try to recreate the dance.
Say to your group “Do you remember the dance you just did? Try to practice it without your partner moving you”
It can be so beautiful to watch this as the creator, seeing your dance really take on new life. Of course, it is going to look quite different, but it is fun to see how they remembered it in their own bodies.
The dancer and creator can then choose a new song and switch!
What else could you do in your Valentines Classes?
There is so much more you could do, you could add in some arty activities, scavenger hunts, affirmations - so many possibilities!
Looking for more Inspiration or for a gift you can give your students after class?
Check out my ultimate Valentines Day for Kids Pack on Etsy! It is at it's lowest price ever right now!
I hope these ideas will serve you well not just on Valentines Day but through out the Year - because Love is always a good theme.
Have a great day!
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5 minute mindfulness practices for children
Feeling overwhelmed, need some focus or just want to feel the peace of the moment? Check out these practices for children. Five minutes may not sound like much but it can make so much difference to your child's day. Choose one and give it a try today!
Equal part breathing
Focusing on the breath is a good way to ground your energy and be present with what is. It can help us go from feeling rushed, panicked or stressed into a more calm and relaxed state by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. A good place to start is with breathing in for the count of four seconds and then out for the count of four seconds. You can adjust the timing if needed but keep the inhale and the exhale the same length for this practice.
Colour your thoughts
Art is such a great way to express ourselves. Ask your child if they'd like to sit for a moment and just bring an awareness to how they are feeling. With paper ready in front of them and pens or crayons of different colours ask them to use different colours to show how they are feeling. Allow them to express their thoughts however they feel called to do so. Letting everything come flowing out from their minds on to the page. There are no expectations for it to look like anything or be a certain way. There is no wrong way to do this.
Go on an adventure using a guided meditation
Guided meditations are amazing to settle busy minds and help your child to settle into rest. Check out this Space adventure meditation available Free on my website: Space Adventure
Be present in the moment, here and now
Being in the present moment can either be the easiest thing in the world or the hardest! For children and adults alike! Children are great at being present as they play, or present as they stop at every stick on long walks but even children have days when their mind feels busy or they feel overwhelmed. Inviting children to just be, nothing else to do can be an important practice. This could be while on a walk, while laying on their Yoga mat or at any moment at all. If this feels like a struggle, it is okay to just notice that struggle. Pay attention to whatever comes up without judgement. Just letting it be.
Think of three things you are grateful for
Gratitude is one of my favourite kinds of mindful practices. It can be as simple as naming three things you are grateful for each day. You can read more about gratitude and gratitude practices here >>
Have an attitude of gratitude
Drawing prompts for gratitude
Gratitude scavenger hunt
Which one will you practicing with your child today?
Grab your free Family Yoga guide here!
How does worry and anxiety show up
Children quite often don't come out and say 'hey, I'm feeling really anxious about going back to school'. Instead, it shows up when you're trying to get everyone ready to leave the house and your child is stressing out about their trousers being too tight and then too loose, one shirt is too itchy, the other is uncomfortable and where is their other coat and then they are screaming at you or their sibling about something that would otherwise not be a problem. For them it can feel like the walls are closing in and everything is so overwhelming and if we are not aware of what they are experiencing we may mistake this behaviour as being difficult or whining.
Back to school anxiety or worry does not just happen on the morning itself, it can show up the night before and even weeks before on extended breaks when they know that the time is getting closer for them to go back to school.
How can we help our child?
When my child is experiencing this, part of me just wants to take them out of school, start home schooling and avoid what is triggering the anxiety. Currently that is just not an option, and I'm no phycologist but I'm not sure avoiding the trigger is the most helpful one in this scenario - in some cases it may be. I am only speaking from my experience with my family.
Talking about anxiety and worry before it shows up can be really helpful. For us we have identified that anxiety shows up on Sunday nights or evenings before school starts after a break. Identifying any patterns and how it shows up can be really helpful for both you and your child. It also allows you to have a conversation about it while the child is in a relaxed state. When a person is feeling stressed or afraid, the amygdala (part of the brain) releases stress hormones that prepare the body to fight the threat or flee from danger. During this time it's like there is a staircase up to the logical side of the brain and there is a stairgate that is blocking the person from getting there. More can be read about this at The Amygdala and Anxiety | IntechOpen or I would highly recommend the book The Whole-Brain Child by Dr Daniel J. Siegel and Dr Tina Payne Bryson.
If you want to help you have to open the gate before you can talk to that logical side.
We will talk about opening that gate in a moment but for this part let's just focus on what we can do before worry shows up.
If you have together, identified a pattern, it is best to address the worry than to hope it just disappears and wont be a problem anymore.
Journaling can be a very helpful tool as can talking about it. The first thing to talk about is
What will worry or anxiety try to do - what will it look like, what did it look like before.
Answers could be that it tried to give me a tummy ache, or made me feel really irritable, or I couldn't sleep. This is really a personal experience that changes from person to person. Practicing self-awareness around this can help to take the power away from the worry and back to your child. We use to have a worry monster teddy that would eat the worries that were written on paper, this allowed us to role play and quite visually take the power away from the worry.
Play therapy and professional support
Play therapy or other specialised professional support may help your child in cases where they are experiencing high levels of anxiety. Yoga and mindfulness is a wonderful practice and can be really helpful but is not a substitute for medical and professional help. If you feel like they need extra support, I would highly recommend you seek someone out locally or online. You can then ask them if any of the practices I recommend would be beneficial alongside that treatment.
Yoga and Mindfulness
"Yoga is such an effective practice for children experiencing anxiety because it soothes their mind which, in turn, soothes the body’s stress response. Yoga can very quickly alleviate the feelings of anxiety and stress in the mind, which gives the body the signal to slow down all the physiological arousals. That means the calmed-down mind translates to a calmed-down breathing pattern, a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure."
Read more here : The Power of Yoga for Children with Anxiety (anxietyfreechild.com)
Remember how I said we need to open that stairgate? Well, this is how we can do that. We can soother the mind and in turn, the body. There will be practices that really resonate with you and some that don't. Take what works for you and leave the rest. Note - this is not a quick fix and does not aim to 'cure' anything. It is simply a practice - and with practice comes repetition. This is how Yoga and mindfulness helps - we need to keep showing up and practice, practice, practice. This is why it is important to me to make these practices playful and fun, so that children will want to keep showing up, so that they can enjoy the practice and feel it's calming effects.
5 of my families go to practices for managing anxiety
What practice we do really depends on how my child is in that moment (or how I am if it is for myself) and also where and when this practice is taking place.
Tracing hand breath - We practice this with a song as we trace our pointing finger up and down the opposite hand, breathing in to trace up and breathing out to trace down. Check out this song by Kira Willey - Peaceful and calm. We love practicing this every night to settle down for bed.
Legs up the wall pose
This is a wonderful restorative pose that helps your body to relax and restore. Start by sitting sideways against a wall and then swing your legs around so that you are laying on your back with your legs up the wall. Doing it this way will help you to get your bottom as close to the wall as you can. Straighten your legs, resting your heels on the wall. Your arms can rest beside you or bring them to your belly. Anytime you need a break during this pose you can bring your legs into a butterfly position by bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together. The more you practice this pose the longer you will be able to stay in it for. Try staying in this pose for at least two minutes or for as long as you feel you need to. We love this pose at bedtime.
Start in a tabletop position (knees below hips, wrists below shoulders). Inhale drop the belly down towards the mat as you look forward. Exhale round your spine, arching your back like a spooky Halloween cat and relax your head, looking towards your belly button. Inhale, move through back to your cow pose, lifting your heart, dropping the belly. Exhale back to your cat. Move with the breath here, repeating five to ten times. We love this practice in the morning, on the bed or on a Yoga mat.
Brahmari / Bumblebee breath
Brahmari is a form of Pranayama that includes Pratyahara - 2 of the other branches of Yoga that isn't asana (the poses).
How Brahmari works is that it vibrates the pineal gland and produces a calming effect. It helps to bring us back into the present moment in a big way. The vibration and physical sensation can be grounding and some people claim it reduces anxiety and panic.
Even small children love this one, but we often call it Bumblebee breath. Notice how the hum sounds a little Bumblebee like?
If covering the eyes or ears does not feel good for you, take a soft glance at a wall or the floor. Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses which helps to limit outside distractions.
Practice this for 2 minutes or start with 5 or 6 repetitions. Notice how you feel after. Repeat this throughout the week if it has a calming effect on you to help bring balance and peace into yours and your child's day. We like this one at time during the day or evening.
Squeeze and release
Lay down on your yoga mat or on a blanket. You may like to close your eyes or take a soft gaze to the ceiling. Take three deep breaths. Bring your attention to your hands. Squeeze them in to fists and then with a big breath out release your hands and relax them. Now bring your attention to your feet and squeeze. On an exhale, release and relax. Now squeeze your hold body, and then relax on the exhale, sighing it all out. Feel yourself relax even more as you breath in and out. Take a minimum of two minutes here or longer if it feels good.
I hope what I have shared here has been useful in someway and that you feel better prepared at helping your child with any worry, stress or anxiety that they have around going back to school. You are not alone in this. So many parents are reaching out to me wanting help when it comes to their child and anxiety. I hope these practices can help you as they do my own family. The aim here is not to get rid of anxiety, that is not my area if it is possible. All I am experienced in is meeting the anxiety, sitting with it, noticing it and using the breath, mindful awareness and movement to bring a bit of calm.
I hope I have shared some of that calm with your family today.
The Family Yoga Challenge
Want more inspiration for practicing Yoga and Mindfulness at home with your Family? Check out this 5 day Family Yoga challenge!
How to Practice Present Pose
Otherwise known as bow pose
Sankrit name: Dhanurasana
Lie on your belly and bend your knees, reaching back to hold your ankles with your hands. Inhale and pull your legs with your hands and pull your hands with your legs,find that opposition. Bring your heels far from your bottom and lifting your head, chest, and thighs from the floor.
If the ankles are out of reach, experiment with placing a strap around your ankles to extend your reach (If you don’t have a strap, you can instead use a belt, towel, or the rope from a dressing gown).
Another prop that may be used is a rolled-up blanket or towel under the thighs or chest.
Have fun in this pose
If the grown up is confident in this pose and has no back pain (we never want pain in our yoga practice!) then the child can sit inside the 'present'. Any excuse to climb on us while practicing Yoga right ;)
Not Christmas at the time of reading this or just don't want the Christmas theme? Stick to calling this by its proper name (mentioned above) or maybe it's a shopping basket..... or even a turtle, maybe it's a spaceship!
Can you move side to side in this pose? How about forward and back? Can you hold it still for three breaths? How does the pose feel in your body?
Don't practice if....
Don't go practicing this after your Christmas dinner unless you want to be seeing it again! This one does not feel good after eating, stay clear.
This pose is also not recommended for anyone with migraine, diarrhoea, who is pregnant, has low or high blood pressure or who has any kind of low back or neck pain.
Always speak to a doctor before starting nay physical practice if you are unsure.
The Family Yoga Challenge!
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Other posts you may enjoy
Pose of the week: Santa's sleigh
Three games that you can play with your children while laying down
Attitude of Gratitude
Have some Christmas fun with this pose! One person makes the sleigh by coming into Navasana (Boat Pose). The other person then places pom poms or teddies in the sleigh by balancing them anywhere on their Yoga partner. How long can you hold this pose? Remember to breathe!
How to practice Santa's sleigh (boat pose)
Family Yoga / Partner Play
As mentioned above you can practice this pose together by taking it in turns to fill the sleigh with 'presents'. This is a great way to explore the pose, practice the pose and hold it for longer durations but most of all, it is a great way to play with it and have fun together.
Other ways you can practice this pose together are by making a double sleigh - joining the feet together or having a reindeer pull the sleigh, what would that look like?
You can find more ways to play yoga together in my Free Guide! Sign up via the home page or click here
For more Christmas themed Yoga....
For more Christmas Yoga, check out my book 'Christmas Yoga for children and their adult' available now on Amazon.