A Children's Yoga and Creative Movement Company
Article: “Will you please CALM DOWN!?!”
Written by Jennie Abbot, Director of Harmony Kids Yoga Company
Let’s face it, the reality of living with children means that we as parents may find ourselves either weekly, daily or hourly saying to our children, “Can you please CALM DOWN?”
Sound familiar? Asking children to CALM DOWN can be for any number of reasons such as: when the child is angry and having a tantrum, sad and upset to the point of crying uncontrollably, frustrated and agitated because their homework is challenging, scared of imaginary monsters under the bed, or over-excited because of too much sugar at a birthday party.
As a mother of two children I have often been heard uttering these same words. But a few years ago I realized something that shocked me! As parents, we know the life skills and values we want to teach our children, such as how to tie their shoes and use good manners. But I was shocked to realize that teaching our children how to deal with and recognize different feelings, vocalize what their body and mind need to self-regulate, and to calm down their bodies when they are upset is NOT something we as parents typically know how to teach. But these are crucial life skills that our kids need!
How exactly do I calm down?
So in asking my own children to “CALM DOWN” I realized, up to that moment, I had not given them the tools they need to deal these BIG feelings they were experiencing. This was not something I grew up learning and not something I myself was very good at doing when I was upset either. Think about it for a moment, how many adults do you know that deal with anger and frustration by doing things like slamming doors or yelling at other drivers on the road?
The AHA moment came when I began to integrate the self-regulating tools of Yoga for myself, my children and the awesome kids that I teach through Harmony Kids Yoga. The response has been (and continues to be) incredible! Children of all ages find Yoga calming tools fun and easy to use. I love hearing the success stories from families of children who have replaced yoga tools with time outs and have seen improvements in their children’s overall well being. The children are so empowered and excited to have healthy ways to manage their emotions. Its truly amazing to watch!
Calming Tools to use at Home!
There are two simple tools that you can use right at home to offer your child a way to calm their body, mind and heart whenever they feel the need. The first is a simple breathing exercise called “Ocean Breathing.” The second is a tool called a “Yoga Mind Jar.” When children are introduced to these tools at a young age, they will be able to voice their emotional needs more easily and accurately, building social-emotional skills, self confidence and body awareness. These tools will enable them to grow into thriving adults who are able to weather the inevitable ups and downs that life brings.
Try these two easy Yoga Tools at home today!
Yoga Tool #1: Ocean Breath
Check in: “How does your body feel?”
Sit comfortably on the floor. Make your back tall to allow lungs room to expand and contract fully.
Inhale deeply through the nose (as if you’re smelling a beautiful flower or yummy baked cookies)
Exhale deeply out of the mouth with a sigh (making the sound of an ocean wave)
Repeat 3-5 times. Check in: “How do you feel after using ocean breath?”
Yoga Tool #2: Yoga Mind jar
The Yoga Mind Jar is a calming tool for your child. The jar can be placed in an area of your home that your child may access any time they need a break. They give the jar a big shake and then practice ocean breathing as they watch the glitter and wait for it to settle. They may need to repeat this process several times until they feel calm and peaceful. Lying on the floor on the tummy and watching the sparkles also aids in engaging the back breathing muscles, which de-stress the body very effectively. When combined with ocean breathing, the jar is calming, magical to watch and invites the body to receive the sensory input needed to organize thoughts, focus attention and calm the nervous system.
You Will Need:
One plastic water bottle with tight screw on-lid (VOS Water bottles work well) You may glue the lid on if you wish.
Clean the water bottle, remove any labels, make sure bottle doesn’t leak with lid on. Put approx. ¼ cup of glitter glue into bottle, followed by 3-6 drops food coloring and a generous dash of sparkles. Fill bottle a bit over ¾ full of very warm water. Close lid tightly. Shake vigorously until all glue has dissolved. Add label if you wish, glue cap shut if you wish. Place in a quiet corner in a central spot in the house, so everyone in the family remembers the Yoga Mind Jar and Ocean Breathing are always there when they need it!
Yoga Mind Jar Tag (tie onto lid with piece of string):
My MIND can be a BUSY place when I’m excited, angry or sad. I sit in a QUIET SPOT and give my jar a SHAKE, I watch the sparkles SWIRL and take SLOW DEEP OCEAN BREATHS in my nose and out my mouth. As I breathe, I watch the sparkles SLOW and settle DOWN. I feel my mind and body RELAX. I am peaceful and I am calm.
Yoga Tools Tips: Introduce the Yoga tools and start by participating with your child until they are comfortable to practice on their own. Gently remind them in times of stress, anger or upset that these tools are available to calm their bodies down and invite them to share their feelings with you. Encourage your child any time you see them using these tools and always reinforce the healthy choice they are making for their body. When they feel calm and ready to connect with others again, offering a hug is always a nice way to show they are encouraged and supported.
1. Maintains flexibility and strengthens growing bodies
2. Enhances concentration
3. Increases self esteem
4. Teaches present moment awareness
5. Cultivates a peaceful, relaxed state of body and mind.
6. Gives tools for stress management
7. Sparks creativity in ripe imaginations
8. Encourages kind peer and social interactions
9. Enhances body awareness
10. Teaches discipline and responsibility
The answer is YES and NO! In a typical kids yoga class you will see many of the same poses that adults enjoy, although often times with imaginative sounds (such as barking dogs in downward dog) so YES children's yoga is just as beneficial for children as adults. Children's yoga (unlike adult yoga) isn't calm and peaceful all the time (although some of the class it is, depending on our game, story or if it's relaxation time) Classes are generally noisy, joyful, bubbly, creative and full of tons of energetic, healthy fun!
Kids Yoga has all the benefits of Yoga for adults, while being specially tailored to kids! By using games, imaginative stories, colorful stories, uplifting music and creative movement, kids are naturally drawn to the many benefits of yoga while learning in an atmosphere of creativity and fun!
Kids Yoga is about exploring and learning in a fun, safe and playful way. Yoga and kids are a perfect match! Here's what children (and adults) can learn from yoga:
- Yoga teaches us about our bodies: when we practice the physical poses (called asanas) we learn how to move more freely and with greater ease and awareness. These postures help our bodies become strong and flexible.
- Yoga teaches us how to breathe better: when we breathe deeply and fully and become more aware, we can bring peacefulness and energy into our bodies.
- Yoga teaches us how to use our energy more effectively: when we practice yoga, we learn how to use the existing energy in our bodies, to feel more relaxed, focused or motivated.
- Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind: when we practice yoga we learn how to be still. This helps us to listen with attention and make good decisions.
- Yoga teaches us about balance: when we practice yoga, we learn to be more aware about the need for balance in our lives. This could mean equal stretching on the left and right sides of our bodies or making sure we balance our very busy time with equal quiet time and relaxation.
- Yoga teaches us about taking care of ourselves: Yoga is a great way to move our bodies and feel healthy. And teaching children how to take care of themselves is one way to show love. As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good nights' sleep!
The beauty of yoga is that children can practice at home, with a friend, or with a group. Many schools are now teaching yoga to young children and there are many choices of after-school or weekend classes for kids and their families. Everyone can enjoy yoga, from tots to great grandparents!
Professional organizations that focus on children also support the idea behind yoga. For example the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The National Association of the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that children should participate in activities that support the development of the whole child. This is exactly what yoga is about!
Link to original article from PBS website: http://www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness/sport-and-fitness/why-yoga-and-kids-go-together/
Copyright Harmony Kids Yoga 2014. All rights reserved.