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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Becoming a master builder
Yesterday, I became the ultimate builder with my kids. We ventured into the trees, determined to build our own den. When we got there, we found a beautiful den that had already been built and I asked the kids "Do you want to play in this one, or will we still build our own?". The answer was of course "Build our own!".
We don't buy lego sets that are already made, because where's the fun in that?! Playing with the set is fun for a while, but most of the time it goes on a shelf for display or gets broken up and made into something else.
We wanted to create something unique and special, something that we had created together!
And you know what? It was a total success! Not one argument arose between my little builders. They supported each other, carried heavy branches together (we're talking almost a whole tree on some occasions), looked out for me when I got a little too close to the thorny brambles and really leaned into the teamwork required to make an awesome den! But the best part? My 10-year-old said to me - "all the anxiety disappears out here in nature. It's like none of that stuff matters. We need to do this every week!". They both really enjoyed it, as did I!
Sthira and Sukha
Parenting is a lot like building a den. It takes effort and patience to raise children, but when we create a safe and nurturing environment for them, we can find ease in our role as parents. And when we practice yoga together, we can tap into that same sense of ease and connection.
In my yoga classes I often talk about the concept of sthira and sukha.
"Sthira" refers to effort, while "Sukha" represents ease. Together, they form a balance that is essential to a successful yoga practice and can be applied off the mat as well. In parenting, effort refers to the energy and determination we put into our parenting, while ease refers to finding a sense of calm and relaxation in our interactions with our children.
On the mat, finding the balance between sthira and sukha means holding a pose with strength and stability, while also finding ease and calm within the pose. For example noticing where you are gripping in a pose, especially if it is a challenging pose and you're gripping or holding your breath. It's the balance between holding on and letting go.
Off the mat, it means finding a balance in life between effort and ease, working hard but also taking time to rest and recharge. This balance can help us to find a sense of peace and harmony in our daily lives.
By practicing effort and ease in our parenting, we can create a balanced and harmonious relationship with our children, one that is both loving and supportive.
Family Yoga and Sthira and Sukha
To create a family yoga practice, it's all about finding the right balance. Think of it like mixing a smoothie: you need a little bit of strength (sthira) and a little bit of ease (sukha) to get the perfect blend. This might mean doing some challenging or energetic poses and games as a family, but also taking time to breathe and relax.
And let's be real, it's not always easy to find time for yoga when you're a busy parent. but incorporating yoga into your day can make a huge difference. By doing this, you're not only teaching your kids healthy habits, but also creating a little bit of peace and harmony in the family.
Teaching Sthira and Sukha to Children
In children's yoga, sthira (effort) and sukha (ease) are important because they help kids find balance in their practice. By teaching kids to find strength and stability in their bodies, while also practicing with a sense of joy and relaxation, we can help them learn to regulate their emotions and focus their minds.
Here are three playful ways to practice sthira and sukha with children:
1. Tree Pose with a twist
Have kids stand in tree pose, with one foot pressing into the ground and the other resting against the inner thigh. Then, challenge them to slowly turn their heads from side to side, as if they are looking for a bird in the branches. This playful variation encourages kids to find both sthira (steadiness and effort) in their standing leg, and sukha (ease) in the soft movement of their head.
2. Resting pose with a story
End your class/ family yoga session with a final resting pose, like savasana, and invite kids to relax completely on their mats (or on a blanket or even their bed). Then, tell a calming story or guided visualization that encourages them to find both sthira in their bodies (finding stillness and grounding), and sukha (relaxation and calm) in their minds. For example, you might guide kids through a visualization of floating on a cloud, or taking a peaceful walk in the woods. This restful practice helps kids integrate the lessons of sthira and sukha into their bodies and minds.
3. Sthira and Sukha Exhales
Breathing practices can be a powerful tool in finding balance between sthira and sukha. By consciously controlling the breath, we can regulate the nervous system and calm the mind. Slow, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and reduces stress. This can lead to a more balanced state of being, allowing us to find both stability and comfort in our bodies and minds.
This practice can help balance the flow of energy in the body, promoting harmony and well-being. This practice is good to practice with older children (7+) or just for ourselves!
Parenting with Effort and Ease
Incorporating Family yoga into your parenting approach can bring about a sense of ease and effortlessness to your family life. As a mindful parent, you can cultivate a conscious approach to parenting that promotes balance and harmony.
In this post we have covered the concept of Sthira and Sukha, which refers to finding the balance between effort and ease. We have spoke about how to practice this concept both on and off the mat. I have shared ways to practice yoga with children in practice and in parenting. Embracing this approach can help you to find more balance in your life, your parenting, your teaching, and in the lives of your children.
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The importance of understanding children's needs during summer
9 things children need their parents to know
Here are the 9 things your child needs you to know this summer!
1. We need structure
While summer can be a nice break and can be a chance to have a little more freedom from structure, some structure is needed. I know for us when we've had no structure over the weekend, it's 1pm and I've realised the kids haven't even brushed their teeth. Having some kind of routine in place especially in the morning and evenings can be really helpful for children as they know exactly what to expect and what is expected of them. Structure helps children feel secure and reduces stress.
You can create structure by setting regular bedtimes and wake-up times and planning daily activities. For example, parents can plan weekly outings to the park, library or museum, and schedule time for reading, playing games, practicing yoga or doing chores. By creating structure, parents help their children feel more secure and reduce stress during the summer months.
2. We need playtime
Play is so important. It is a great way for children to de-stress and process everything that is going on. Play is essential for children's development as it supports their physical, emotional, and cognitive growth. Through play, children learn to explore, problem-solve, socialize, and express themselves. Regular playtime also helps children reduce stress and anxiety while boosting their self-esteem.
During summer, there are many creative and engaging play activities that families can enjoy together. Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and going to the playgrounds are great for physical development and bonding as a family. Art projects, such as painting, drawing, and crafting, are perfect for stimulating creativity and self-expression. While we love to add play into our yoga practices, we also like to make time for free play. This is time when the children's imaginations really shine.
3. We need rest and downtime
Summer can be full of fun and active activities but it is important to balance that out with some downtime too. Making time for slowing down and resting is important to help support your families well-being. There are many ways that we can slow down. We can practice calm yoga practices including restorative poses, we can practice mindfulness activities like mindful colouring, we can read stories together or even get cosey for a movie night. It is nice to explore different ways of resting so that we can get the physical, mental and emotional benefits each different practice brings.
4. We need time in nature
Getting outside is so good for us. I know when my kids are bounding of the walls and I am feeling stressed about it, getting everyone outdoors for some time in nature is like magic! Nature gives us what we need in that moment, either space to run around or space to slow down. It could be getting to the nearby parks or going off for a beach day but it always leaves us feeling good after.
5. We need social connections
Social connections help children with social and emotional development as they provide opportunities for learning important social skills.
During the summer, there are many safe and fun ways for children to connect with friends and family. Having a picnic in the park, going on a bike ride, or playing outdoor games are all great options. Virtual playdates and game nights can also be a fun way to stay connected with friends and family who may not be nearby. Engaging in group activities such as summer camps, yoga classes, or sports teams can also be a great way for children to make new friends and build social connections.
6. We need nutritious food and hydration
Good nutrition and hydration are essential for children's health and well-being. Try incorporating fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Not only do they provide important vitamins and minerals, but they also support local farmers and the environment.
Hydration is also important during the hot summer months, so encourage your child to drink plenty of water. Infusing water with fresh fruits and herbs can make it more flavourful - no fancy bottles needed.
It's important to approach nutrition from a non-diet perspective and avoid toxic diet culture. Instead, focus on nourishing your child's body with wholesome foods and encouraging them to listen to their hunger and fullness cues. This way you can help your child develop a healthy relationship with food.
7. We need opportunities to learn and grow
Summer can be a fantastic opportunity for children to learn and develop new skills in a fun and relaxed way. From outdoor activities to creative projects, there are plenty of educational and enriching options to choose from. For example, visiting a local museum or taking a nature walk can be both educational and enjoyable. You can learn about interesting topics in a way that is enjoyable and doesn't mirror school work.
Engaging in family yoga practices can be a great way to teach children about self-regulation and mindfulness. This can be great to practice over the summer, especially if they are prone to anxiety when it comes to going back to school.
8. We need quality time with parents
Family time can be hard to come by, especially with busy schedules. Making time with your children where you can be fully present is so important and can help support their well-being as well as build stronger bonds. There are many ways you can spend quality time together. Think about something that brings you both joy, something that you don't find yourself getting easily distracted from and can enjoy the time together. One thing we love to do is our Family Yoga Game Night.
With Family Yoga Game Night, you can set aside time each week to connect with your loved ones in a meaningful way. You can find more details here: Family Yoga Game Night.
9. We need to feel loved and supported
Every child deserves to feel loved and supported. It's important to show love and support to children during summer and beyond, and building strong and positive relationships with them is crucial. To achieve this, try to be relaxed and playful while spending time with your children. These small moments can have a big impact on your relationship with your child. By taking care of yourself and prioritizing your own self-care practices, it will allow you to show up with more patience and calm during the holidays.
To summarize, here are the 9 things children need their parents to know: structure, playtime, rest and downtime, time in nature, social connections, nutritious food and water, opportunities to learn and grow, quality time with parents, and feeling loved and supported.
By creating structure, engaging in creative play, spending time in nature, connecting with loved ones, and prioritizing well-being, you can have a fun and mindful summer with your children.
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