Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
How do you start your morning?
When you're a parent sometimes you don't get to choose when or how you wake up. You may start the day at full impact, a kid jumping on you and putting their bum in your face or a cry from the next room that makes you leap out of bed to check they are okay. This instant adrenaline rush or feeling of frustration or just plain feeling exhausted is a real rough way to start the day. It doesn't have to be like this though, there are ways you can start the day calmer, even with kids!
The number one way to start your day...
There is one way that I see recommended to start your day constantly - CONSTANTLY!
It is one that i don't like and I will not be doing, even though it makes perfect sense. It is to wake up half hour before the children..... It's a pass from me. Okay, so it make sense. You get to have some time for yourself and ground before the children wake up, you get to enjoy the peace and quiet and ease in to your day, you can workout, practice yoga, meditate, sit out in the garden, read a book, cook a wonderful breakfast, have a peaceful shower - anything you choose. The problem I have with this, is my little dude has an inbuilt sensor. He knows when I am not in bed and he comes looking for me, even if its 2 or 3 hours before he is due to be awake, he knows! This means not only does my time alone get gate crashed but it means I'm going to have a stroppy child by noon. Maybe this works for some, and maybe it will work for me again one day but for now it's a hard pass SO how can we start the day more grounded apart from this way, because every minute of sleep is valuable.
5 ways to start your day feeling grounded...
My little dude is always in my bed by morning even if he slept well in his own bed for the most part. So when we wake up we usually start the day with a "good morning.", smiling at each other and give each other a big hug. Then we take a few breaths together. Sometimes we will do this hugging or we will practice tracing hand breath (where you trace your left hand with your right pointing finger, breathing in to come up and breathing out to come down). My daughter is still sleeping soundly at this point so if you have two children that are sleeping soundly this can be done alone, with a partner or with the dog! The important part of this is to just take a moment to breathe, to smile and to say "good morning."
Place your feet on the ground
When sitting up, place your feet on the ground and just pause here. Take a moment just to feel the ground beneath you and come back to the breath. Take three breaths here before carrying on with your morning.
Wash your face
So I'm not talking hygiene here, I'm sure you have that covered but just splashing cold water on your face can help you to feel grounded, and signal to your body that it is time to wake up. This may also be a great time to set an intention for your day.
Whether you take a good morning stretch, a 15 minute yoga practice, a work out, or put your favourite song on and move for two minutes, it can really help wake up the body. This can be very gentle, or more energetic. It can be 2 minutes or 20 minutes, alone or as a family - It is whatever works for you and that particular morning. This helps you to just be in the moment. At that time, there is no to do lists, it is just you, moving in a way that feels good. The key is to bring an awareness to your body and pay attention to any sensations in the body as you move.
I love to start my day off with a cup of coffee but this could be any drink that you like to start your day off with. I have mine in a red cup to symbolise the root chakra, the chakra that is related to grounding and stability. Bring an awareness to this simple act of having a drink. How does it feel holding the cup in your hands? Is it hot or cold? Breathe it in, does it smell of anything? Take a few slow, intentional breaths here. You may also like to visualize a red ball of energy at the base of your spine. With each sip, see it getting brighter and more vibrant. See how it illuminates downward as it grounds you. Sit with this for a few minutes.
My journaling practice is in the evenings so when I journal in the morning, I usually keep it quite short. It feels so nice to put pen to paper and just write for five minutes. Here are some of the things I will journal about in the morning.
1. Any dreams I had last night. If I remember anything, it can be nice to write about it. It also trains our brains to remember.
2. I pull an Oracle Card and write about that. I write about what it means to me or anything that comes up.
3. Gratitude. Usually this is in my evening practice but it can be a really lovely way to start your day. If I have practiced a guided mediation around gratitude that morning, that does inspire me to write out gratitude earlier than the norm.
4. My daily intention - I make this when washing my face as previously mentioned but here I write it down too.
5. Affirmations. I will often choose an affirmation for the day or for the week such as
'Today, I choose patience' or 'I am calm and grounded.'
6. My to do lists. If i feel like I'm going to forget something so everything is buzzing around me head it can be very helpful to write it all down and decide what's important, what would be nice to get done and what can wait. It also helps to see if I am being realistic with my expectations of myself.
So there are just a few of the ways that help me to feel grounded in the morning. Those mornings you jump right out into a chaotic rush around, where the kids start arguing and the cereal falls on the floor are exhausting!! You can choose not to do that any more! Take this time to ground. You can do this, and the more the children see you practicing this, the more they'll join in with the practices or feel inspired to create their own calming rituals.
What is your biggest take away from this blog post? I would love to hear! How do you ground yourself OR how will you be grounding yourself from now on?
Some other posts you may like are:
22 Mindful Practices for Stressed out Mums
How to Practice Quiet Time Activities with Children
Three games you can play with your children while laying down
Healing Affirmations for your Root Chakra
Hey there mamma,
Are you feeling like you're not getting enough time to yourself? Is it making you stressed, irritable and less patient with your children?
I know this can be a challenge so I'm here to help.
Over the next three weeks I will be sharing tips with you to make staying calm so much easier. Make sure you follow along to catch them all.
Here is the first tip.
Take a mindful moment each day. Multiple times if you can! There are so many ways we can a moment, without adding on to our already busy schedules. Some mindful moments we can take while doing things that we were already going to do - just with more intention and more awareness.
Being mindful is not too difficult once you get into the regular practice of it and it will take you from feeling stressed out, to feeling present and calm.
As it is 2s day (22/02/2022) I thought it only right to share with you 22 of my favourite ways to tale a mindful moment.
Ignore that first sentence because you already made it here! Yay!
I posted this on my Instagram but I wanted to share it here with a little more to it, because saying brush your teeth without explaining how it can be mindful just doesn't feel right, of course you brush your teeth and you're still stressed, like wtf!!
Take a walk
Taking a walk mindfully means staying present. So often we take a walk to get to the place we need to be and it is spent rushing there without any regard to our surroundings. Take some time to slow down, breathe deeply, pay attention to your senses. Any smells, what you can hear, what you can see - maybe something you missed before, what can you touch? One way I heard someone practice mindful walking before is to imagine their is an alien in the sky and he wants to know about what your experience is like in this moment. He has not been to Earth so he needs everything explained in real detail, set the scene, describe the moment.
Take a Yoga Class
Yoga is a great way to get present and be in the moment and it doesn't have to take too long. If you have time it may be nice to get to a local class but if not there are so many wonderful practices online (and not just my own ;) ). Even if you take as little as five to ten minutes, it can really help. You can find free videos on my Youtube channel or Check out my online classes here.
I love journaling, it really helps me to work through whatever is going on, gain focus, let go and it is also a chance to get creative if you bullet journal. I wrote out some great journaling prompts for the new year, last year, but I am sure they will be as relevant now as ever. You can check that out here.
Otherwise just start writing about your day and see what comes up.
Brush your teeth mindfully
Brushing our teeth is (probably) something we do at least twice a day so why not make that more mindful? Instead of rushing through it, why not try taking your time. Bringing attention to how it feels, tastes, the movements you are making with the brush, the smell of the toothpaste. It might sound ridiculous or unnecessary but it can be a great way to get present, ground your energy and pause a moment. When we just rush through our day, that's when the stress builds and builds.
One of the most simple ways to de-stress is with the breath. When we pause to take some slow, intentional breaths we can move from that fight or flight mode into our parasympathetic nervous system - our rest and digest state. The place we can feel calm and ease. Try it now, taking a breath in through the nose, filling up the belly. Pause. Exhale it all out through the nose or mouth. Try taking a few more, relaxing the shoulders down and unclenching the jaw.
This is a great practice for morning or night. Just say three things that you are grateful for, like really grateful for. You can journal these, have an accountability partner you text these too or share this practice with your children (my person favourite). We do this before bed or at dinner time. I love a good gratitude practice, you can find a fun gratitude scavenger hunt for the children here. Or read more about the benefits of gratitude here.
Do you ever eat on the go, shove something into your mouth while you're making the kids pack lunches, or maybe skip meals? This week, try and eat at least one meal mindfully. We love to all have our dinner at the dinner table and sit together to practice this, not to say we never eat in front of the TV, but for the most part we like to keep our meals together mindful. If doing this on your own and in peace, make sure it's something you really enjoy and savour every moment.
Be aware of your thoughts
Bringing awareness to your thoughts makes it so much easier when negative thoughts come up . This way you can question them, redirect them or stop them in their tracks. I love a practice I often do with the children for this (it works for adults too) and it is called Pom Pom for your thoughts.
Cherish the next hug with your child
The importance of hugs and positive touch is amazing and also a great opportunity for a mindful moment. Really take notice of this hug, cherish it and save it in the memory bank, it is so precious.
Take a shower or a bath
Just like the brushing off the teeth. Something we do anyway, so how can we turn this into a mindful moment? We can remove distractions and be present. Taking time to wash each part of our body with love and gratitude for it. Taking your time. Bringing awareness to the sensations of the temperature, wash cloth, soap etc. Maybe have some nice smells from a candle or the bubble bath, and breathe, savour, enjoy.
Connect with Nature
You could pair this with the mindful walk or find another way. Maybe out in the garden, planting your onw herbs, feeding the birds, putting bare feet on the Earth outside, swimming in the sea (safely with a friend) or paddling in a stream. There are so many ways you can connect with nature.
Count your steps
This is a great one if you are feeling stressed and maybe a bit angry. Much like when you get a child to count to ten before they react, this is a practice of pausing before reacting. Take ten slow steps, maybe even backwards. Breathe with each step.
It can feel soo good to go and get a massage. Time and budget doesn't always allow for this unfortunately. Here is a great practice I recorded the other week that includes some Yoga and self-massage.
Three Senses Exercise
What are three things you can see?
What are three things you can hear?
What are three things you can touch?
Light a candle and place it on your kitchen table. Sit up tall on one of your chairs and just take two minutes to watch the candles flame. Breathe, relax the shoulders down and try to let go of any tension. This is a great way to meditate for those who find it hard to close their eyes and go within or for people who are more visual.
You can find some great info about chocolate meditations here
Body Scan meditation
A body scan meditation is basically where you lay down (or sit up tall) and bring awareness to each part of your body individually in turn. You can do this on your own or find a guided meditation for guidance. The app Insight timer if full of these types of meditations and all for free!
Write yourself a letter
Every year I write a letter to future me. I include my hopes for the year but also what I have accomplished (because it is easy to forget and take these things for granted). I tell myself what I am proud of me for and anything else I feel like including. I seal it in an envelope and then I put a date on it to open in one years time.
It can also be very therapeutic to write a letter to yourself in the past, what would you like that you to know. Sit down and take your time with this one.
I love taking a mindful moment with my tea or coffee. It is quite often my go to. Feeling the heat of the cup in my hands, closing my eyes and holding the cup up to my nose and taking a big breath in and out, savouring that first sip. I love it so much I included it in one of my practices on youtube - Yoga for Menstruation with affirmations.
Stroke a pet
How cute are they honestly?! I love animals. We currently have two cats and two guinea pigs. Having a mindful moment cuddles with one of them is the best. Have you got any pets? Next best thing is cuddling a cushion, not quite the same but grounding all the same and it wont scratch you if you do it wrong! Haha
Pull Tarot or Oracle Cards
You do not have to be an expert to do this. You are very much guided by your intuition (and possibly the help of a guide book if needed). It can be a great way to pause, ask questions, see what's going on for you, how you are feeling etc. You could even just start with some nice affirmation cards. I have a great deck for anxiety. Sometimes I will sit, breathe while I'm shuffling the deck and then pull one from the pack. It is always what I need to hear in that moment.
Draw or Colour
There is a reason all those mindful colouring books for adults and for children are becoming so popular. It can be soo calming. Did you ever colour as a child? Or did you love to draw? How about in adulthood? Do you express your creativity? It can be a great way to get into a flow state. A place where you are present with what you are doing and stress just melts away.
There we have it! 22 Mindful activities you can start from today!
Please let me know your favourites, maybe you do a few of these already or have some other ones you would like to share? Comment below!
And if you really want to achieve more calm and less stress as a mum then you can check out my latest course - Yoga for Mum Stress. Trust me When I say - your future self will thank you.
Maybe you're sick, maybe you're just tired but the kids don't get it, they want your attention, now! For those times when you want to play but haven't got the energy, here are three fun games you can play together!
You may also like this previous blog post full of fun ideas for Screen Free Family nights >> Here.
You lay on the sofa, face down on a comfy cushion, maybe you even have a nice blanket on you. The child/children then place one of their toys on your back. You then have to try and guess what toy it is. So simple and yet can be so fun. You can start giving out to the toys saying 'what are you doing on my back 'name', I'm trying to go to sleep'. Then when there is no toy on your back you can start to snore until they find another toy to wake you up.
This is where you get to be the very demanding patient. Asking the children for nonsense things to pass to you or real things like chocolate from the fridge. It is the children's job to make sure you are getting lots of rest and checking up on you.
Don't wake the Giant
This is where you get to hide under your blanket while the children build Lego or blocks around you or even stack cushions on you. They must do it really quietly as to not wake you - the giant. If they wake you, you give a big stretch knocking everything over and off of you, Put on a little bit of a show here before going back to sleep.
All these games require a little effort but not too much and you still get a bit of a lay down. You could also play different talking games like I-spy, read or make up stories or just throw on a movie and cuddle up. Parenting is challenging anyway but on days when you don't feel like doing anything or are feeling run down, it can be soo hard. These games are so handy for times when you are feeling like that.
Which one will you be playing? Have you any other ideas? Let's help each other out here ;P Comment below!
Winter is officially upon us. Today marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. From here, the light will start to return to us. The days start to once again grow longer and longer until we reach the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. This is a great time to reflect and set intentions. You may like to start visualizing the year ahead. It can be a great time for planning but slow down on acting on that right now. Conserve your energy where you can, take rest and really nurture yourself - mind, body and soul.
Winter can bring with it the winter blues, the light is slowly returning but we still have long periods of darkness and cold. Here are some ways your can nourish your mental health in this time.
1. Practice Yoga and Meditation
You don't need much to start a Yoga or meditation practice from home. Nothing fancy at all in fact. A yoga mat can be very helpful and some comfortable clothing for moving in, and sign up for a class or follow along to some Youtube videos.
Here is a Gentle Yoga Practice that is focused around Self-love - Click here.
I have Live online Classes starting in January which can be found here.
For meditations I love the Insight timer App.
2. Get enough rest
Don't underestimate the power of getting enough sleep! For some reason I always feel the sleep I get before 12am is the most valuable, like it is worth twice as much. For this reason I make an effort to have an early night at least once or twice a week but I always aim to get 7 to 8 hours sleep. And if you can take a nap - amazing, do it! Winter is definitely a time to rest so have movie nights and cosy evenings when you can and don't be afraid to say No to things you don't actually want to do.
3. Go for a walk
When light is limited, it can be great to get outside while it is light but it can also be quite magical to take a walk later on when all the Christmas lights are on. Wrap up warm and get outside each day, it makes coming home and getting cosy that little bit more sweet.
4. Spend time with people you enjoy spending time with
It is okay to say No to spending time with people who drain you, or at least make an early escape plan right?! As I said Winter is all about conserving your energy, don't let energy vampires suck it all out of you. Take care of you, spend your time with people who light you up and make you feel good. Meet up for a cuppa or plan a Zoom chat if you have to! But keep those connections going. Winter can be very isolating even before 'all of this' so it is good to talk.
5. Enjoy a new hobby (or an old one you havent had time for)
Bonus points for not trying to turn it into work! Keep the hobby just for you, keep it fun and playful. Maybe its an activity, a sport, something arty, something creative, puzzles - anything. I love a hobby that gets me into a real flow state - like how yoga does, I get into a real flow state when I get stuck into a puzzle. Time seems to disappear and I'm completely lost in what I am doing. Do you have something like that already or something you have been wanting to try? Comment below!
What other ways can we look after our Mental health this Winter?
There are so many other ways that we can take care of ourselves this Winter. What would you add to the list? What helps you?
The Importance of Self-Care
As parents, we take on a lot of responsibility for someone else’s needs and happiness. Sometimes we can neglect our own needs because we are so busy looking after our loved ones. Of course, taking care of them is great, and you should do it with love, but you are important too. Self-care should be made a priority so that you are in a good position to help others and you don’t end up burning out, feeling over worked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated. It can be helpful to schedule in time for self-care on your daily planner just as you would an important meeting or appointment. Taking some time for you can make all the difference. I’m sure you have heard the Cliché saying about filling your own cup first as you cannot pour from an empty cup. Cliché it may be, but it is so true.
We cannot teach what we haven’t learned. We can’t expect our children to grow up strong, happy, and carefree if we don’t model that behavior ourselves. Taking this time for you is not selfish. It will make you a better parent. It will allow you to show up at your best, less likely to snap at the smallest thing or to be too fatigued to listen whole heartedly. Taking care of yourself will allow you to recharge and feel balanced again.
What is something that you love doing? Maybe you haven’t done it for a while, maybe even not since having children. If you’re stuck for ideas give this next exercise a go. Have a pen and paper ready to jot down your ideas.
Spark Joy Activity
Sit in a cross-legged position on the floor (you can use a pillow or yoga block to lift the hips slightly) or sitting up tall on a chair with feet firmly on the ground. Allow your hands to rest naturally on your lap or palms open to the sky.
Take between 5 – 10 deep, slow breaths. Allow the mind to clear as you focus your attention on the breath. Any time your mind starts to wonder, bring it back to the breath. Close your eyes if it feels right to do so.
Once you are settled, think about when you were a child. What activities did you really love doing? How did they make you feel? Did you enjoy baking, painting, horse riding, dancing, singing, playing board games, getting out in nature? The sky is the limit here. Think of anything you can.
Once you feel inspired open your eyes and start to write down as many activities you can think of that you once enjoyed.
Now look at the list and see if anything listed would spark joy in your life now.
Another way to add in a little self care to your week...
I have new yoga classes starting next week (23rd September 2020) for parents wanting to connect with themselves and other parents and to move their body in a way that feels good. No need to worry about childcare or traveling as it is all from the comfort of your own home. Click here to book now.
Take the 7 day self care challenge!
Check out my free 7 day self care challenge here.
You may also be interested in
Self love, that inner critic and breaking out of comfort zones.
Please comment below what sparks joy for you. Have a great week!