By Amanda Vilenica-FieldKids (as well as Adults) these days are exposed to so much in their daily lives, so much so that many of us end our day feeling a little frazzled, over stimulated and sometimes beyond tired. When have we made time to connect to how we are feeling throughout the day? Can you remember the last time you dropped into your inner world and rolled with the waves of your inner terrain? You being the adult who is reading this. We are what our children will inevitably grow into, do we want our children to be stressed out, junk food eating, numb automations? We have options. Lots of options. More options available to us than at any other time. And now is the time to act or maybe now is the time to become still.
Kids yoga can address some of the issues kids are faced with in todays’ world. Via the art of storytelling and the gift of yogic wisdom we can drop into an imaginary world sometimes long forgotten even for 8 year olds. We can become warriors on a battlefield or surfers on a massive wave, we can be tortoises hidden in a shell, fish in a pond, dogs, cats, pigeons and so much more. Through yoga we can meet children in a place where they can have fun, but it’s a place where we can build a deep sense of self love and acceptance, kids can gain confidence in dealing with daily stuff by way of tuning into their own intuitive sense of self as well as learning to breathe deeply and fully from a young age.
I have three children, all of who have practiced some form of yoga or meditation and the wonderful part of this for me (besides having kids to practice on all the time!) is that they are open to the possibilities offered by yoga. They already know the power of yoga as a practice. From being able to tune into the breath as a way of falling asleep or as a tool to assist them in calming down, as well as the awareness to know when something within their body in not feeling so good and being able to articulate that or even the self awareness to know and take action when something is not feeling altogether ‘right’ for them. Yoga is about connection and when we join the dots of the physical body to the breath to self awareness a wonderful connection transpires.
Simple ideas you could try with your kids are:
- Connect to the breath by blowing onto a feather, experiment with the breath by blowing as gently as possible so the feather barely moves and then blow really hard. Play with fast breathing, hard breathing, slow breath and crazy breathing.
- Cat, Dog, Snake, Mouse is fun! Flow from one pose to another as slow as a moon walker or as speedy as Speedy Gonzales! (Traditional yoga poses here are Cat (Bilasana), Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Cobra (Bhujangasana) and Child (Balasana).
- Balance Poses are fun to do – Tree (Vrkasana) Pose is a good one where you can use a stopwatch (boys love this especially) and give kids their time and doing weekly can give them an opportunity to increase strength through their legs.
- Donkey Kicks – great fun for building upper body strength – getting ready for Handstand!
- The Spaghetti Test – one in pairs, one person gets to lie down and become loose and wobbly like spaghetti. The other person gets the job of performing the Spaghetti test by picking up a limb and gently giving it a wobble. The test is for the person lying down to be as relaxed and trusting as possible and the test for the tester is to honour that role and be trustworthy. You can turn this is into a puppeteering game by move their limbs around and then even taking your hands away and being a conductor, using your hands to ‘magically’ lift your partners limbs and body parts off the floor and into yoga poses, even crazy yoga poses never seen before!
- And then there is Deep Relaxation (Savasana) – laying with your child or children, breathing together, maybe talking them through their body and gently encouraging awareness to enter their physical form. Following Savasana children are usually very settled and quiet and after a while may begin to talk, allow what comes to come.
What I especially love about Kids Yoga is allowing it to happen. Kids are such creative beings that you can create a whole yoga practice just by following their creative spark! In a world where so much is controlled and constrained allowing an opportunity to flow is so freeing for us and our kids! Yoga for Kids is just what it is for us adults, a chance to reconnect with ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our spirit as well as an opportunity to connect with each other building strength and flexibility, awareness and ease.
Amanda Vilenica-FieldJuma Health & Yoga