It’s pretty challenging to be young these days. With the onslaught of social media and its distractions, temptations and tendency to overstimulate young brains, the rise of eco-anxiety, as well as peer and school pressure, it’s no wonder that our youth are showing early signs of stress and stress-related challenges.
Yoga, and its sister practices of mindful breathing and mindfulness activities, is a fun, non-competitive activity that builds physical strength and improves coordination while simultaneously cultivating tools to manage anxiety, build resilience and bring calm to heated moments.
Mindful breathing teaches children about the ‘magical breath’ that lives deep inside of them and can be accessed at any time, without anyone knowing. Extending the inhale and exhale regulates the nervous system and helps you to feel calmer almost instantly.
Here, Beth Borowsky from The Karma Class, shares a short sequence to do at any time to cultivate strength, build confidence and induce calm. Roll out a yoga mat each, play some soothing instrumental music and have fun.
Balloon Belly Breaths
Sit in an easy cross-legged position with a tall spine. Choose a favourite colour balloon and lay hands over your belly. Inhale slowly through your nose and imagine blowing up your balloon belly. Feel your belly swell as your balloon inflates. Exhale and draw your belly towards your spine. Take five deep belly breaths – feel how your mind settles and calms. This is a great breath to do in bed before bedtime. It also helps to support a strong posture.
Sit with legs extended and a tall spine. Spread your belly and legs with your favourite filling. Inhale, stretch your arms to the sky. Exhale, fold your body over your legs. Take 5 even and smooth breaths – feel the stretch at the back of your legs and the release in your back body.
From hands and knees, inhale, lower your belly and open shoulders and chest – chin slightly lifted. Moo like a cow. Exhale, arch upper back, tuck chin into chest and meow like an angry cat. Repeat this cycle 5 times – a great release for upper back and shoulder tension and building good posture.
From hands and knees walk hands slightly forward and feet slightly back. Lift your bottom high into the air like an upside-down V. Keep knees slightly bent and relax your head and neck – bark like a dog! Can you lift one leg up at a time to pee?
Sit on your heels and slowly bring your forehead to the ground. Rest your arms alongside your body.
Take 5 deep breaths - feel how calm, quiet and still you can be.
Stand tall and strong and lift one foot to rest on the inside ankle of the second leg. Soften your gaze. When you feel balanced, slide your foot slightly up your inner calf. Knee alert - do not press foot against your knee. Reach arms to the sky like branches and wiggle your fingers like leaves or bring your hands together at your chest. Take 5 deep breaths - feel your strength and power. Switch sides.
Lie on your back with your knees bent out to the sides and your feet pressed together. Close eyes, relax arms by the side or place them on your belly and enjoy 5 Belly Breaths. Feel your hips release.
Lie on your back with arms and legs stretched out. Option to place a semi-precious stone on your forehead. Tighten and squeeze every muscle in your body and face, hold for 5 seconds, then let go. Relax fully and rest. Close eyes or soften your gaze. Take 5 deep breaths as you rest your whole body and mind - feel supported by the earth below you.
Mindfulness - or learning how to be in the present moment – teaches children how to see and accept things as they are, without emotion or judgment, to simply be in the moment consciously and with a sense of equanimity and calm. Mindfulness experiences encourage slowing down, paying attention to a single point/happening and noticing how we are responding. Practicing mindfulness results in less reactive behaviour and builds resilience.
Take a silent walk through a nearby park. If you can be barefoot, all the better. Before you begin decide on what you’re going to pay attention to.
- Listen for different sounds.
- Notice different smells.
- Notice different colours or choose one colour eg. green and see how many shades of green you can find.
- Notice different types of leaves / flowers/trees.
- How many insects / birds you can find?
- Throughout the walk, pay attention to every step each foot takes.
The Karma Class has a Deck of cards to help bring yoga, breath and mindfulness into your home. Contact them to find out more.