The Adventures of Super Stretch Mindfulness & Yoga Fitness Program For Children™ believes that every adult wants a happier, healthier, well-adjusted, and resilient child but as parents and caretakers we race through the day, solving challenges at work and at home, so that we can move on to the next thing.
Life changes all the time and sometimes it feels like you’re operating in quicksand and that does not in any way, shape, or form help us feel grounded and in the present moment! This actually creates that chaotic, icky, tense, irritable, nagging feeling that won’t go away. L
Don’t worry you are not alone. Stress and anxiety are some of the most debilitating emotions that people can experience. It can make our whole body and mind go into an inner state of turmoil. We don’t want our children to pick up the same habits because we are always in ‘go’ mode.
Health and healing occur when we are more aware. So, the more that you engage in mindful, therapeutic movement skills and relaxation techniques to calm your stressed nervous system AND invite your child to join in, the more they, in turn, will pay attention, get a handle on their emotions, and learn to respond wisely vs. reacting. Then with this adeptness, they can become resilient humans and manage their most challenging times of the day. When we raise a child with as much kindness and skill as possible, they grow up with a strong body, clear mind, and a pure heart.
There are so many amazing practices and activities one can do to slow down, pay attention, act with kindness, and manage emotions. I’d like to offer you some simple, fun, and easy sensory integration tools and self-regulating techniques to start your family on the path to wellness.
Playful, Mindful Movement:
Children love to move and be physical. Engaging in yoga fitness poses can have an immediate positive effect on their mood. Create optimal alignment, connection, and balance while increasing flexibility, strength, and coordination in their growing bodies and minds.
Physical tension and restlessness are on the rise for kids and yoga helps to release tight wound up muscles and keeps them relaxed, safe from anxious and distracted thoughts.
Here are some of Super Stretch’s favorite moves for you to try:
Prana The Colorful Balloons
Breathe in to get big and light, breathe out to let go and regroup. Sit comfortably on a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Place your hands to knees and breathe in and out through the nose. Breathe in to fill your body up as you arch your back and open chest to the sky. Breathe out to deflate it and move belly to spine as you look to your belly. On the next inhale bring arms to the sky. On next exhale bring arms back down and give yourself a big bear hug. Try this practice ten times in a row. This pose opens the chest and allows back and shoulders to release tension.
Jaya The Starfish
She goes with the flow of life and regenerates as she breathes from the center of her body. So can we! Let’s try, lay comfortably on the floor. Inhale and breathe into belly while reaching and stretching out limb-to-limb as long and wide as body can get. Then exhale and melt into the floor. Try this practice five times in a row. This pose helps to release tension and is a fantastic way to teach children self-control and to have better body awareness.
Shake It Off!
Agitated, have too much energy, and just can’t stop wiggling? Don’t deny that feeling – dance out the sillies or the crazies with a dance party! Turn on some music and enjoy the freedom.
*Remember when teaching children yoga movement that you are strong and centered; there is no need to be perfect. We don’t have to even force movements that we do. We just need to take a step forward to be the best you can be by breathing and stretching at your own pace. There is always going to be room for improvement and growth. That is why Super Stretch tells kids, “Practice is progress.”
Breath Work Practice:
Super Stretch always tells kids, “When you take three deep breaths, magical adventures happen!” The power of taking intentional breaths is truly magical to children; it makes them feel like super heroes.
A common symptom of anxiety is the feeling of tightness in the chest or breathing pathways. By practicing intentional, deep breathing exercises one can reduce the heaviness and stress, stop the downward anxiety spiral, and offer a body/mind connection so that children find harmony and lightness of BE-ing. This moves out the tantrums and frustration to create a place of balance, connection, and calm.
Here are some of Super Stretch’s favorite breathing exercises for you to try:
Three Part Breath
This is one of the main yoga breathing practices for grounding down. Be in a comfortable position. (Can do this seated or laying on your back.) Place one with hand on belly and the other hand on heart. Feel the deep breath and feel your heartbeat. Breath is slow and deliberate. Inhale – Belly, Lungs, and Ribs. Exhale – Ribs, lungs, belly. Try this for two to five minutes. This is a wonderful tool to show a child how everything in their body and mind is interconnected.
Roaring Like Simha The Lion
Playful and simple animal noises help to relax tension in the jaw and allow the Vagus Nerve to send the ‘happy hormone’ through the body, which tells it to find a state of calm.
Back-To-Back Breathing With A Parent Or Friend
Just like it sounds, a simple way to settle in, nourish connections, and make space for quiet time together. Try this for two to five minutes.
Super Stretch says, “The only way to get into the habit of being compassionate is to actually practice it! And it should start with kindness towards yourself.”
Mindful awareness is a purposeful pause to slow down and create space to tune into one thing at a time. It is the practice of being aware of your thoughts and feelings at all times without becoming your thoughts. This concentration and focus on one’s internal well-being teaches people to pay attention without judgment, learn to regulate anxiety, and determine how to avoid stressful stimuli which is super to help kids to be free from negativity.
It is really important as a parent, friend, and guide to be role model and practice mindfulness. Then you are literally teaching yourself and your child positive psychology. That kindness matters. And compassion and gratitude are a form of happiness. You are also exploring the underlying causes that show us how the brain works and learn to understand what triggers us to flip our lid.
When we know hour our brain works and have a mindfulness practice we can then in turn help the limbic system calm down so that the thoughtful brain, your prefrontal cortex, can have a turn. This is the part of the brain that helps us to slow down and make positive choices.
When you start the practices do short increments of time. Then move on to longer stretches when you are ready.
Here are some of Super Stretch’s favorite meditation exercises to experience and practice together:
Gazing Into A Crystal Ball
Choose an object to look at in nature, a plant, outside the window, a toy, or a favorite family object. For two minutes just watch the object and breathe. It shouldn’t feel any particular way. Just bring your attention to the sensations of breathing in and out. And if a thought or distraction comes into your mind let it pass and focus on your breath. Once the two minutes have passed have a discussion about the practice. What did you experience? How did the breath feel? Remember to state that it’s ok if they notice their mind wandering. During the day your child will use the meditation tool to recognize mind their is wandering and bring it back to feel grounded during challenging times.
Our attitude changes everything! This is a super bedtime practice to focus energy and to show compassion towards others. Plus, it helps you to end the day on a positive note. Simply say out loud, “May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I be safe, May I feel loved.” Repeat three times sending kind thoughts to anyone you want to – your family, pets, friends, grandparents, teachers, even people in the world you have never met before.
When we plant the seeds of mindful movement and breath work practices we give children positive coping strategies to manage stress. We teach them compassionate skills and healthy habits to cultivate that will last a lifetime. So that they can feel anchored, aware, and awake, to ride the waves of life’s ups and downs and be super people inside and out.
Breathe, Stretch, Play. Make NAMASTE a part of every child’s day! Love, The Adventures of Super Stretch Mindfulness & Yoga Fitness Program For Children™