Yoga Inspired Breaks To Take With Your Kids While They Are Learning At Home

A few years ago there was an anxious little boy unable to go to bed because he was going to get to go to Disney Land the next morning.  Despite his Mom’s efforts to convince him the sooner he went to bed the sooner he would wake up and get to go he just could not settle down.  He went through nearly every basic emotion in the book.  Joy, anticipation, surprise, fear, sadness and disgust.  He was so overjoyed he was jumping up and down both literally and figuratively then he reached the point where he was tired and even fearful that he might sleep through the morning and miss his chance to go.  The lights went out and he was told his time was up, it really was time to go to bed or there might not be a trip to Disney in the morning, but he just laid there pleading that he really couldn’t sleep. 

This little boy was my good friends and I thought this might be the perfect time to see if a little yogic breathing might help calm him down.  I had recalled from teacher training all of the mothers throughout the program discussing how they wished their child and every child had the chance to experience something like this, that the concepts and training would allow their children to learn to be humble but confident and feel more comfortable with who they are when they face unfamiliar obstacles and that the tools it offered would assist them through many of life’s hard situations and relationships. 

I walked over to him and asked him if he minded if I sit with him for a few minutes and if he wanted to try some of the cool things I had learned in yoga.  He agreed as he was willing to do anything to stay awake and pass the time.  We took 5 deep breaths together, then we started to count to our breath first quietly then silently.  Then he laid down and placed his hands on his chest and his tummy and he played around with puffing his tummy up with each breath, then trying to continue to do that with his eyes closed, then we stopped monitoring the breath and just relaxed but before I could get to that part the little dude was sound asleep.  I felt so humbled and honored that I was able to help him and truthfully surprised at the profound effect something so simple had on someone who just moments ago was jumping on the beds.

I have thought back to this situation as I keep hearing through the media, parenting blogs and personal friends and family that things are a little crazy at home right now.  School has been cancelled and a lot of parents have found themselves with a new responsibility of needing to lead at home instruction for their children.  On top of this no play dates and the usual activities are limited to solo or family only outdoor play.  From what I have gathered this has some parents grasping at straws to find things to keep their children on track with school requirements during the day as they don’t understand why if they are stuck at home they cannot go outside and play and are distracted by being in their own home and expected to sit still and learn.  For a child this makes no sense and is frustrating but parents must press on and stay on top of teaching.  Here are a few fun things you can do to get them back on track when their minds have started to wander.

Quick and Calm: A quick breath-work break to calm and relax when frustrated

  1. Start by sitting upright either on a chair or on the floor in a comfortable cross-legged position. 
  2. Gently tuck your chin so the top of your head is pointing straight up to the sky.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Take 3-5 deep breaths remembering that part of the deep breath is the exhale, make the exhale long and try to get all of the air out.
  5. As you inhale count to 4, as you exhale count to 4. Do this for 3 breaths.
  6. Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly.
  7. As you inhale see if you can fill up the belly first and then the chest, with your hands connected to the body see if you can feel the belly and the chest move puffing up or outward.
  8. As you exhale see if you let the air come out of the belly first and then the chest feeling the belly and the chest become soft and sink back inward.
  9. Continue to feel the chest and belly move for 3-5 breaths.
  10. Breath normally but keep your hands on your belly and chest, no need to expand the belly and the chest now.
  11. See if you can feel your heart beating.  Do this for a moment.
  12. Gently release your hands from your belly and chest and flutter open your eyes blinking a few times before fully opening your eyes.
  13. Smile 😊  

Movement to focus and refresh: A few minutes of simple poses in a sequence to increase focus and awareness and refresh in between school lessons

  1. Stand up nice and tall.
  2. Roll your shoulders up to your ears and then down your back.
  3. Let your arms fall down to your sides but have your palms face forward (this is tadasana or mountain pose).
  4. Inhale and sweep your arms all the way out to the sides and then up overhead with your palms facing each other.
  5. Exhale and grab your right wrist with your left hand and slowly bend to the left.
  6. Exhale and grab you left wrist with your right hand and slowly bend to the right.
  7. Inhale come back up tall with arms overhead.
  8. Exhale bend at the elbows and draw your arms down until the elbows are in line with the shoulders, you will look like a cactus. See if you can let your heart reach upward towards the ceiling or sky.
  9. Inhale sweep the arms back up high.
  10. Exhale cactus arms, lift the chest out and up slightly.
  11. Inhale sweep the arms back up high.
  12. Exhale cactus arms, lift the chest out and up slightly.
  13. Inhale sweep the arms back up high.
  14. Exhale let the arms float out to the sides and down and fold forward to reach towards your toes.  Keep a small bend in your knees.
  15. Take your hands and grab the other arms elbow.  You will look like a rag doll. Sway the torso side to side gently and back and forth as well if it feels ok.  Do this for a moment.
  16. Release your hands from your elbows and let them hang low towards the floor.
  17. Bend into the knees so your hands can touch the floor.
  18. Move your feet outward so they are a wide, about 2 feet apart.
  19. Inhale and bend even more into your knees and bring your hips down toward the floor while you lift your chest up.  Your hips will be between your legs and below your knees but not on the floor and the chest will be upright.  Bring your hands together in front of your chest.  You can try to close your eyes and see if you can keep your balance.  This pose is called a yogi squat or malasana/garland pose.  It looks a little bit like a frog.
  20. Exhale and release your hand to the floor in front of you and straighten your legs so that you are back where you were in the forward fold.
  21. Inhale and sweep your arms all the way out and up overhead.
  22. Exhale, let the palms find each other and let them come down and stop in a prayer position in front of the chest.
  23. Close your eyes and take 3 breaths.
  24. Gently open your eyes.

Play time after lessons are over: Some fun and interesting poses to look forward to doing once the day is over.

These poses are fun because of their names and kids are naturally pretty good at them.  As with any yoga pose please encourage your kids to listen to their body, and that it should not hurt.  Remind them that these require flexibility and they might not be able to do it at first but will over time if they keep trying.  If they push themselves too far they can hurt themselves and that if it starts to hurt they should gently come slightly back out to the pose.  This is not only how they avoid hurting themselves and never wanting to do it again but it is also how they learn awareness and how to listen to what their body is telling them giving their mind a chance to react.

Camel pose (Ustrasana)

Tree pose (Vrksasana)

Happy Baby pose (Ananda Balasana)

If those were fun try some more poses that are kid friendly can be found here.

If you have more than one child at home or once you are able to reconnect with others check out these videos for poses with partners.  This is a great way for children to bond and I have seen children practice partner poses first hand and they have so much fun doing it, just be prepared for a lot of “Mom, mom, come and look at we can do!” over and over again.

Yoga poses with a partner videos:

Karma Kids Yoga Partner Poses

CelebrateYoga

If your children had fun with these exercises get them more involved and do it more frequently.  There are so many great books and activities that explore yoga poses and mindfulness to get your child started. 

I absolutely love the idea of getting your child involved in yoga at a young age.  Since they are flexible they can really have fun with it and explore their own self awareness and reap the physical benefits.  It can help build their confidence but also teach them they must work to see reward therefore it softens their ego.  It can increase empathy as they learn how to understand their feelings and consider others in return.  It also teaches them how to handle adversity and challenges on their own as they are the only one in control of their breath and movements and progress over time.  They learn how to be gentle with themselves but also challenge themselves all while gaining the ability to focus.  There is a lot of information out there about the benefits of yoga for kids.  I invite you to not only take my word for it but also explore what others have to say so that you can work towards introducing this wonderful practice to your little loved ones.  I have listed several articles below for you to explore. If you found these exercises fun and noticed that they helped your children while trying to get through he school day I would love to hear about it.  Please follow my blog for more info about getting yoga into your everyday life and share in the comments below.

https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/yoga-for-kids

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-15075/7-ways-kids-benefit-from-yoga.html

https://www.doyou.com/8-benefits-of-yoga-for-kids/


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