Disclaimer :: Nanda Yoga sponsored and crafted the content featured in this article.
During this crazy and unprecedented time, where our daily routines have been disrupted, what can we do to keep our families (and most important, our children) mentally and emotionally healthy? How can we create new and lasting routines that will build strong and resilient children?
Dealing with and understanding uncertainty is very abstract concept for children. As parents, we want to create space where they feel connected and grounded. To accomplish this, it is important to find an activity that focuses on the social, emotional, and physical well-being of your child. Something like . . . yoga!
Children are natural yogis; they experience most everything physically. So, when they stretch their legs and pair it with calming breaths, it has an immediate effect on their bodies. Yoga physically enhances children’s flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. It allows them to play, explore, and have fun in a safe, inclusive, and non-competitive environment. Yoga creates emotional balance and trains the child to listen inward to his or her body’s feelings and ideas.
Beyond enhancing gross motor skills, yoga teaches children coping techniques to help them stay calm during life’s stressful moments, which can help manage stress and social anxiety. Yoga also improves executive functions in children’s brains like cognitive control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.
But what if you don’t do yoga or maybe you don’t know how to adapt your own practice to incorporate your child? No worries, we have some really fun ideas for you to use, so you can weave mindfulness and movement into your family’s daily routine.
In order to manage expectations, start small. Begin with a few simple and fun breathing exercises like Five Finger Breathing or Bumble Bee Breathing. In just a few minutes of breathing, children can shift from anxious and excited to calm and relaxed.
Next, you can begin to introduce mantras. Mantras are positive words thath encourage positive thoughts that can later influence positive actions. Mantras are a great family activity. Take a moment at mealtime or during quiet time to identify mantras that work with your family. At our house, we are currently focusing on: I am so safe, I am so kind, and I am so loved.
Make It Fun
Kid’s yoga is not adult yoga. It is all about fun and empowering children to challenge and explore their body’s abilities. We don’t worry about alignment or closed eyes and perfectly still bodies — all those things will come. Yoga is a practice; it is something that constantly evolves. We focus on PLAYING yoga because play is the language of children.
Start with a fun flow like a Sun Salutation and encourage your children to make the sounds of the poses. Ask questions that spark creativity like: What type of branches does your tree have? What happens if you are stranded on an island, what will you need to escape? If they say a boat, plane, or hot air balloon ask them to show you what those poses look like with their body. Incorporate music and create stories about characters that interest them. Partner Poses are also a really fun way to bond and play yoga with your family.
You can stream Nanda Yoga videos on your living room TV so your family can spread out and have fun!
Add in Mindfulness
Try creating a gratitude journal with your family. These journals encourage us to pause, notice, and appreciate the things in life that we often take for granted.
When you are on a walk or outside playing try using this Sensory Scavenger Hunt to spark some insightful conversations of awareness. Have your child pause and notice three things they can see, two things they can hear, and one thing they can feel. See where your children’s curiosity and imagination takes them.
When introducing children to mindfulness, it is important to manage your expectations. Our goal is to normalize the experience of awareness so that it grows over time, kind of like planting a seed of mindfulness.
Keep in mind that creating a mindfulness and movement practice at home should be unforced and fun. You can make it a family activity at mealtime, add it to transition time before homework, incorporate it when you are playing outside, or make it a part of the bedtime routine.
Kate Garrett Murphy is the founder of Fort Worth’s first children’s yoga studio, Nanda Yoga. She is a registered 200-hour yoga teacher and has more than 100 hours of children’s yoga certifications. In addition to her children’s yoga certifications, Kate is also certified in pre/postnatal yoga, baby yoga, and movement as well as infant massage therapy. Working with children has always been Kate’s passion; she is so excited to have created this beautiful space for the Fort Worth community to enjoy. As a certified child life specialist at Cook Children’s and a degree in early childhood education, Kate has firsthand knowledge of the great importance that a child’s health and well-being plays in their development.
Nanda Yoga is located at 2408 Montgomery Street (on the corner of Pershing and Montgomery).