Meet the Expert – The Benefits of Yoga for Kids

Cynthia Levin from Connect Kids Yoga

Meet the Expert is all about seeking out insightful and helpful advice for your children. This week I caught up with Cynthia and we talked all things yoga. I love her vision which is to inspire kids to believe in and connect to their brightness within and I learnt a lot about the benefits of yoga of kids which I would love to share with you…

Cynthia profile pic

What are the benefits of teaching our children mindfulness techniques?

Does this sound familiar? You’re late for an appointment and on a mission to get there with your preschooler in tow. Your curious little one has stopped and pulled on your hand “Look, Mummy” she says. She has spotted a lizard lazing in the sun. She looks. She watches. She notices every little detail of that lizard and what it’s doing. She watches until it scurries away.

Children are naturally mindful so it is us as parents that need the reminder to be mindful. Mindfulness put very simply is “being aware”of the present moment. Paying attention to the sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, feelings. Watching and observing these without any judgements or becoming attached to them. Mindfulness brings clarity, compassion and wisdom. It helps kids to be deal with big emotions and be calm. Kids can begin to self-regulate by being aware of their thoughts & feelings, notice whats going on for them in that present moment & to take steps to calm down.

Simple tools like becoming aware of their breath and feeling their stomach rise and fall with each breath (belly breathing) can be used to bring their attention immediatley back to the present moment. Some other mindful exercises are listening to a bell ringing until they can no longer hear the sound which is great for calming kids down and bringing their attention to their surroundings. Going on mindful walks barefoot on grass or sand to feel the sensations underfoot is another one and also belly breathing with a buddy (great for bedtime) where you can place a favourite teddy on their tummy and watch as the teddy floats up and down with each in and out breath

Practicing mindfulness and including these essential skills in your parenting can greatly benefit our children, our families, our world. They learn to pay attention to what is going on at that moment and pause before acting, and it helps children calm down, regulate their emotions, make better decisions and relieve stress!

Do you have any techniques for calming children down before bed?

Try to establish a regular bedtime routine. Setting up a routine allows kids to know what is expected and can create a calm and relaxing atmosphere. To “set the scene” for bed, turning down the lights, playing soft, relaxing music and burning calming essentail oils like Lavendar can be helpful.

Our number one technique of course is to practice a Yoga 4 Kids bedtime sequence. Incorporating yoga into your child’s bedtime routine can help them shift their minds focus through relaxation and breathing and prepare them for a restful sleep. Our “Sleepy time Yoga” is a beautiful, calming, relaxing 10 pose sequence that will be sure to have your little yogis ready for bed & asleep in no time!

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 3.57.42 PM1 Mountain to Moon. Standing tall, reach arms over your head, stretching your arms above your head

2 Reach for the Stars. Stretch arms diagonally. Come back to centre & swap sides.

3 Gather the Clouds. Stand with legs wide, knees bent, breathe in, gather the clouds in arms & reach up above your head. Breathe out , bring arms back down. Repeat 3 or 4 times with breath

4 Earth Rolls. Come back to earth! Roll down slowly breathing out, breathe in roll up. Repeat 3 to 5 times with breath

5 Butterfly Bliss. Soles of feet together & flap your butterfly wings (legs

6 Sleepy Butterfly. Roll forward sleepy butterfly. Can you get your butterfly nose on your butterfly toes? Stay in forward fold for 3 – 5 breathe

7 Teddy’s Legs Up the Wall. This pose is a great transition to your child’s bed. Rest a favourite teddy on their legs which will encourage them to keep their legs up

8 Teddy’s Tummy Time Belly Breathing. Time to put teddy on our tummys. You can count to 4 & breathe in, count to 4 breathe out. Encourge your child to watch teddy move up and down as they breath. This excersie will create instant calm!

9 Roly Poly Teddy Bear. Hug knees in & give your self a big squeeze. Roly Poly onto your pillow & under your covers.

10 Wish Upon a Star. Time to send good wishes out into the world. Have your child think of one wish for themselves, one wish for someone they love & one wish for the world. You may like to play a meditation for kids at this point or simply end with big goodnight hugs & kisses. Sweet dreams little Yogis!

How can we help our children to manage anxiety?

Stress and anxiety are one of the biggest issues affecting our children today. 14% of Australian children and adolescents aged 4-17 have mental health or behavioural problems. (National survey of Mental Health and Well-being, Canberra, ACT). With these figures so high the importance of teaching our kids the tools to deal with stress and anxiety are paramount.

As mentioned earlier practicing mindfulness can help alleviate and cope with stress by bringing kids back to the present moment. Focusing on the “now” can take attention off the worries. Simple breathing techniques like belly breathing can assist with this.

Once again, our number one way to manage anxiety and stress is through yoga. Our Yoga 4 Kids courses are specifically designed to help kid’s mange & cope with stress. Special breathing exercises, yoga poses for stress management, relaxation techniques like yoga nidra, guided mediations to help kids let go and journal work to encourage kids to identify and deal with emotions all combine together to make a positive difference to their outlook.

Do you have any tips for busy parents trying to find a few moments of calm in the day?

It’s so important for parents to find some “me time” in the day, even if it’s for a 10 minute recharge, ready for the next round. Here are three ways to find that recharge time:

Make yourself a priority! As busy parents we tend to put everybody else first and take what’s left for ourselves. Change your mindset and make your “me time” top on your list of things to do. Schedule it into your calendar & set this time aside for you. Call on your family or friends for help. Better still swap babysitting time with your friends who also have kids.

Keep it Simple! Not all “me time” has to be lengthy and quite frankly is much harder to come by. Instead focus on small snippets of time throughout your day. Your shower time is not always, but usually a time when you can be by yourself. Savour it by spending a little longer pampering yourself. If your still blessed with a nap time, don’t make the washing or housework your first priority…remember tip no. 1. Instead use that time to recharge in your favourite way.

Get up earlier and get organised! Yes we know your already tired and just want more sleep, but getting up as little as 15 minutes earlier can give you that much needed time for you. Please, please, please do not use this extra time to get a head start on your work. Strictly “me time” stuff allowed only; meditate, practice yoga, journal, read, whatever YOU need.

What are the benefits of yoga for children?

The benefits of Yoga 4 Kids are immeasurable! The effects are immediate AND long lasting and set our kids up with the tools needed to be successful, productive, well-balanced adults.

So why yoga for kids? Here are our top 10 reasons why you should choose Yoga 4 Kids:

Builds and maintains flexibility and strengthens growing bodies

Enhances concentration and increases focus

Increases self-esteem and boosts confidence

Teaches present moment awareness and develops mindfulness

Cultivates a peaceful, relaxed state of body & mind and creates calm

Gives tools for stress management and cultivates resilience

Sparks creativity in ripe imaginations

Encourages kind peer and social interactions

Enhances body awareness and improves overall wellbeing

Teaches discipline and responsibility in a non-competitive, all-inclusive environment

Connect kids YOGA’s founder and owner, Cynthia Levin has been working passionately with kids for more than 23 years. With a background in Early Childhood she understands the needs of growing little minds & bodies and the connect kids YOGA programs reflect this. Our specifically designed, non-competitive Yoga 4 Kids program encourages kids from toddlers to teens, to develop to their full potential in a fun and exciting way. Our Yoga 4 Kids boosts confidence, increases mental clarity and focus, builds strength and flexibility plus improves on overall well-being. In addition to these wonderful skills, connect kids YOGA fosters creativity, love, compassion, respect, inner strength and self-acceptance, providing a connection to themselves, their peers, their community and their world.

Kid’s yoga classes are VERY different to adult yoga! Kid’s yoga is loud, full of energy and creativity. Kids need to express themselves through play, movement, singing, songs and music and engaging with one another. Seasonal classes infuse movement, music, yoga games, breathing exercises, imaginative play, storytelling, creative arts and relaxations to CONNECT KIDS to their mind, body and spirit. Quiet and reflective relaxations and breathing exercises follow high intensity movement and games allowing kids to release built up energy and stress then, reflect and connect.

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