Guest post by Monetta Wilson
The ancient practice of yoga has a variety of physical, emotional and psychological benefits. It can build strength and flexibility, promote mind-body connection, and relieve stress and anxiety. All over the world yoga is being recognized for the many benefits it can provide. Yoga and mindfulness are being incorporated into millions of lives on a daily basis.
Children of all ages can enjoy these and other benefits by practicing yoga. Yoga can help children build body awareness as well as an early appreciation for physical activity. Yoga also helps children develop an appreciation for mindfulness that can help relieve stress and anxiety. It is a myth that children do not experience stress and anxiety. Outside of traumatic events, daily events can be a source of anxiety for children. Simple activities such as going to the bathroom, eating lunch, or traveling on the bus can be a source of anxiety. Yoga and mindfulness can help.
There are many activities that children can do to help them calm down when they feel anxious. They can breathe, chant, meditate, move or any combination of these items. The simplest of these is breathing. Teaching children to take big belly breaths can be very powerful. Ask the child to breathe and push their belly out as far as it can go. Then watch it deflate as they breathe out. Let them do this a few more times. This causes them to focus on the breath instead of the source of the anxiety and causes them to calm down.
Yoga Moves for Anxious Kids
A mantra is a word or phrase that can be repeated on its own or during a meditation or breathing practice. You can let the child choose their own or help them choose one. Examples of mantras for children are “Love”, “I am, love”, “I am calm”, “I can do this”. They can repeat the mantra quietly when they feel anxious or while practicing their breathing.
For some children simply moving can help them relax. When I taught high school before I was a yoga teacher, I would send my students outside to run around if they needed to calm down and were having trouble focusing. They loved it! They would be calm and relaxed and focused afterward, and would sometimes request this. Of course running outside is easier in the Caribbean where we have no winter, however, the point remains that simply moving through poses can help children relax.
As you can probably guess yoga is most effective against stress and anxiety when you combine a few of these activities, in my book Yoga with Aunty Mo, I combine movement, breathing, mantra, and meditation. I take the children through movements and encourage them to breathe, relax and go to their happy place. I kept the words simple and rhyming so that children could easily memorize and repeat them. My goal in writing the book was to give parents and teachers a short activity that they can use to help children calm down. Parents and teachers in my village love it but most importantly the children love it.
About The Book
Yoga is fun for the entire family. Follow along to this exciting book that teaches the joy of yoga in a simple and easy to understand the story. This book is a love letter to children set in the village of Mon Repos on the island of Saint Lucia. It takes the child on a journey through a simple yoga routine that can be practiced daily. It is appropriate for children of all ages and a great bedtime read.
An important part of yoga that is often neglected is self-reflection. Self-reflection is important for self-acceptance, self-improvement, and growth. Children can practice self-reflection using journaling. It helps them look back on their day, celebrate their successes and learn from any mistakes. It is also an opportunity for the caregiver to bond with the child and provide guidance.
Based on these principles I have created a simple printable mindfulness journal for children.
Click here to download the journal and instructions.
Feel free to share with other parents, teachers, and caregivers. I hope your little ones enjoy yoga as much as mine do and that it helps them lead rich and fulfilling lives. Yoga is amazing and can give children skills that will last a lifetime.
Have your children tried yoga? What is their favorite mindful activity?
About Monetta Wilson
In 2018, Monetta released her first yoga book for children, Yoga with Aunty Mo is a delightful little book for children of all ages. Monetta wrote the book as a love letter to the children in her community who love to practice yoga with her. The book is set in the village of Mon Repos on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. It features colorful images of the children practicing yoga and enjoying nature. In Yoga with Aunty Mo, Monetta takes the reader through a simple routine that can be practiced daily to leave them feeling calm and relaxed. Monetta is proud to share this book where black and brown children can experience the joy of yoga as well as the joy of representation in literature. Yoga with Aunty Mo is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback format. Monetta also blogs at www.yogawithmo.com