In the morning, you may struggle to get out of bed, let alone get your kids up and ready for school. Evenings can be just as hectic as you try to get your children off to bed. In the midst of these day-to-day routines, yoga for kids may be a family stress reliever that makes the days begin and end easier.
“We expect kids and adults to use the learning or ‘thinking’ part of their brain – the prefrontal cortex,” said Tony Iniguez, education specialist, Marshfield’s Child Advocacy Center. “The reality is when stress levels are high that part of the brain actually shuts down. We want kids and parents to know that yoga or gentle body movements help soothe their stress response and lower stress and anxiety levels.”
Iniguez said whether its stress from work or school, or stress related to trauma, yoga is a “wonderful tool” for not only children but people of all ages, to help relieve stress.
These simple exercises can be utilized at home and by caregivers at daycare or teachers in the classroom to enhance memory and learning, and create a healthy routine to bond with kids.
Different movements signal different brain function
Kid’s Animal Poses Yoga was created by Marshfield’s Child Advocacy Center to guide parents and children through three simple yoga routines that help regulate different parts of the brain. Iniguez also said he encourages parents and caregivers to use these movements to build predictable routines with children in the morning and at night.
Today, a lot of people like to use technology devices before bed, but that blue light pushes production of melatonin back by about an hour or an hour and half,” he said. “It’s good to have an alternative to electronic devices in order to get a good night’s sleep.”
‘Bed & Nap Time Yoga’ is a routine that can prepare a child’s brain for sleep using movement to signal the body into the laying down position. Memories are formed and solidified when we sleep. If kids don’t sleep well, things learned throughout the day won’t be as easily absorbed into their brain.
“We want families to create muscle memory with children,” Iniguez said. “By using the animal yoga, they also are training their brain and body for rest.”
The morning yoga of snake to cat to cow to giraffe to flamingo signal the body to wake up for the day. Iniguez said in this routine, parents can encourage their children to think of other animals in the jungle to imitate and turn yoga into a fun activity for the morning.
The final piece of the graphic, ‘Calming & Re-focusing Yoga,’ can be used during any of those high-stress situations for parents or teachers to re-focus their children, or for children to calm their own anxiety throughout the day.
Stay connected as a family
Animal yoga is not just something for young kids to do before bed. Iniguez encourages parents to join in the fun, too. As children grow older, you can start incorporating the technical terms used for the poses as well.
It’s about being aware of what your body is doing,” he said. “This should be an activity for the whole family. We want parents and children to engage with each other. This is one way to be able to connect as a family together.”