In February, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds announces that up to 370 schools in England will take part in a series of trials testing different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health.
In schools across England, children will be taught how to meditate, techniques for muscle relaxation and breathing exercises for mindfulness.
The secondary school students will also learn about awareness and how to increase this in their everyday lives.
I discovered Yoga and the relaxing side effect of that practice when I was pregnant with my first.
Ever since, I've been practicing on a semi-regular basis.
3 years ago, I trained as children's yoga instructor. I introduce children to yoga and mindfulness. (for info, I trained with Yogabeez and with Enchanted Wonders)
We also practice as a family.
I am currently working on a few projects that will involve introduce parents to yoga and mindfulness and how to use calming tools at home with their children.
There are a lot of information, books, toys and videos about Yoga and Mindfulness.
But it's hard to know how to start and what to do on a concrete level with your little one!
You may think, reading this, that Yoga is just a trendy word and that is ridiculous to practice with children.
I don't think that children practice Yoga and meditation like we do.
We practice Yoga to be flexible, to quiet down our mind and to be present. When you practice yoga, you will have to pay attention to your breath and to your body. You will be "mindful".
Mindfulness activities is less about the physical aspect and more about the meditative aspect.
Mindfulness is a non spiritual form of meditation and is hugely promoted in the health sector with positive effects backed up by Science.
But why do we need more mindfulness (in any shape by the way, it might be Yoga or swimming or Meditation...) ?
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Do you remember the last time you were not busy?
The last time you were not checking your phone for a day?
The last time you were waiting somewhere without scrolling your Social Media Account?
20 years ago, we had plenty of mindfulness moments: waiting at the bus stop, cleaning with only the radio or television in the background, sitting next to a friend on the bench, breastfeeding our baby while gazing through the window, sitting in the bus, walking the dog without a phone…
Now, the same activities would involve a scrolling on a phone for the majority of us, most of the time.
We have lost our thinking time, our “I do nothing” time.
We have to force ourselves to be mindful.
In this modern digital world, parents have a hard time to remain present and peaceful. Add to this, the normal “parenting challenges” and it has become more and more difficult to be focused on our children and to react with calm to the daily challenges.
I believe that children are "naturally" in the moment and mindful. They are naturally attuned to their body. But as we, the grown-ups, we loose touch with our basic needs, we loose ourselves in the digital world and keep ourselves busy and on the go, we might generate anxiety in our children. Not to mention that our children are exposed to higher pressure, being for longer periods of time in daycare and schools, being under the pressure of more testings and for the teenagers, being stressed by an uncertain future.
In my opinion, it's why Yoga and Mindfulness are so popular. It's like an antidote to our Modern world.
Parents book their children in my after-school yoga class because they complain about their children being anxious and hyperactive. Parents come to my Family Yoga class to "spend quality time" with their children. I have observed that those who benefit the most from my yoga and mindfulness classes are the families who practice together. And when I teach in a nursery or school, it works only if the staff is involved and enjoys the session too.
With this series of blog posts, I want to encourage you to try these activities with your child. You will benefit from the stretching, mindful movements, connection and relaxing time together.
And also, those activities are just fun!
To start with today, I will share some of my favourite YouTube videos. There is nothing better than seeing a session!
I recommend that you watch those videos by yourself, that you practice the movements and after, you can introduce those activities to your child.
My favourite warm-up song:
(You can download this video on most apps like Itune, Deezer and so on...)
I also do any classic songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes...
The Classic Sun Salutation - children's style
I love Kira Willey's version. The song is catchy and children follow the movements very easily.
The video quality is rubbish but that will give you an idea!
Another great warming song (and keep those pompons for later!)
By now, you and your child will be well warmed up!
So time for some calming activities:
You can pick one of my 8 calming activities that I have shared in this video:
Now, it's time for some Yoga poses!
I generally use cards and books to show what to do. You can receive some free printable cards on this website.
I use the Enchanted Wonders cards very often.
Here is a video from the creator:
If you don't have experience with yoga, do the simply ones like Cat, Dog and Tree pose.
There is no need to correct your child, to move his limbs... Children will copy you and will be much more careful than you!
I also like this Nursery Rhyme pose:
And here 5 super easy Yoga poses to start with:
By now, you are probably ready for a bit of relaxation!
I do a simpler version of this Lemon squeeze relaxation: (do you want me to film my own version? Let me know in a comment!)
Or you can just listen to a relaxing music and lying down next to your child, cuddling and massaging each other.
And remember those Pompoms you used at the beginning? I show in my 8 calming techniques video how to use them as a relaxing tool: place them on your child's body, instructing her not to move. That really helps the little ones to stay still!
Just find a nice cosy way to end your yoga session!
I hope you will find this blog post useful!
If you try some yoga based activities with your children, let me know!
And stay tuned for more inspiration in this series of blog post!
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