Discover the benefits of children’s yoga with these effective and calming exercises
Whether it’s the result of technology or modernisation, there’s no doubt that today we live in a world where everyone’s in a rush, even our children. From shuffling between school and football practice to finishing homework and playing games on the iPad, they are constantly switched on.
This daily stress can affect youngsters in multiple ways, which may cause them to act out when they wear out.
“When kids get tired they act wired rather than lethargic,” explains Sasha Quince, a yoga instructor and mother-of-two. “Daily stresses affect children more, and these days with the increased school work and time spent on smart devices, they are constantly on the go.”
While the benefits of yoga are spreading among adults, elements of the practice are also becoming popular to help channel children’s energy and quiet them at the end of the day.
“Yoga enhances coordination, focus and self-confidence, eases stress, releases feel-good hormones, builds connection and soothes the central nervous system,” Sasha explains.
“The goal of bedtime yoga is to help children shift their focus and mind onto something simple and calming, away from daily activity. Yoga provides relaxation, breathing and soothing movements to cultivate this.”
If you think your youngster will struggle to sit still long enough to take deep breaths, Sasha says that yoga actually comes naturally to children, so it’s worth making time for. Here are Sasha’s top tips and exercises to help children relax before bedtime.
Before you begin, set the environment by creating a quiet space away from distractions. Try dimming the lights and turning on soothing music.
Your child can benefit from just one or two exercises, or the whole routine, but remember not to push them too much.
Watch the video for Sasha’s tips and an explanation of each exercise, and read below to find out more about the series.
Good night dance
This movement helps release extra energy and stretches the body for bedtime.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Reach up to the sky with both arms, bend down to touch the ground, bending your knees here if needed, before returning to standing.
You can add your own words with the movements. Sasha and her children like to recite: ‘Good night moon, good night stars, good night Abu Dhabi’.
Forward bending helps soothe the central nervous system and reduce stress and anxiety. This is a particularly nice practice for working parents that are away from their children during the day.
Sit facing each other with your legs in a V shape. Put your child’s feet at your knees and hold on to each other’s elbows, keeping your spine straight. If you need to, you can both bend your knees. Gently rock back and forth while singing your favourite lullaby.
Double ice cream scoop
While traditionally called child’s pose, this one is renamed to make it more fun. This restorative pose stretches the lower back and hips and helps calm young minds. It eases both mental and physical tension. With the adult in child’s pose, have the child gently climb onto the centre of your back and curl up like a seed, or scoop.
Sitting cross legged with your backs against each other, this pose will help form a bond as parent and child feel the warmth of each other’s bodies. It also increases body and breath awareness and soothes the parasympathetic nervous system.
Keep your backs straight. You can also hold on to each other’s hands for a stronger connection.
Belly breathing with a furry friend
This exercise has various benefits including reducing hyperactivity, increasing lung capacity and improving quality of sleep.
As your child lies down on their back, place a small stuffed toy on their belly and ask them to take a few breaths into their belly rather than chest. As their tummy naturally rises and falls they will see their furry friend move up and down.
Sasha recommends the adult demonstrate this first. Keep in mind that younger kids breathe naturally into the belly but older ones and adults may find this more difficult. Practice is key: think of inflating the belly like a growing balloon.
Known as savasana, this restorative pose helps relax the body and mind while the added sense of touch is soothing.
As they lie down with their eyes closed, encourage your little one to relax by telling them that they are a light spaghetti noodle. Hold their legs and gently shake the tension out, then do the same with their arms. Gently massage their arms, legs, face, back and head.
You can add a mantra using your child’s name: ‘Qaiam is relaxing, Qaiam is calm, Qaiam is at peace.’
Find out more
Sasha hosts regular kids yoga classes at The Dome at Rawdhat, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, opposite Hilton Capital Grand. To find out more or register, visit: letsgoyogame.com
Want to become a certified kids yoga teacher? Sasha will host various teacher training programmes during 2017. Find out more: sashaquinceyoga.com