Guest post by Jennie Abbot, Founder and Director of Harmony Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Company
I really don’t remember signing up for Pandemic Parenting, do you? Sure, life before Covid-19 was hectic and busy. I was juggling work and parenting my two kids who were constantly on the run with playdates, school, homework, health challenges and endless activities, but in all honesty Pandemic Parenting makes life before Covid-19 seem like a cakewalk!
The challenges of a family being together ALL THE TIME, through everyone’s conflicting emotions of anger, sadness, anxiety and fear is something that only those who have parented through a worldwide pandemic before could possibly relate to.
The stress that Covid-19 has put on our family and millions of others around the globe is just.too.much. There is too much uncertainty, conflicting information, stories of sickness, loss and grief. And it often feels there is no way to escape it.
As a Children’s Yoga and Mindfulness Educator my primary thought is, how is all of this affecting children’s health and wellness around the globe? Pediatrician Dr. Andrew S. Garner, shares this very real concern.
As a primary care pediatrician, I worry about the impact of these turbulent times on the social emotional functioning of children and their families… To build relational health, children and their parents need certain skills, including an effective way to communicate, the ability to understand and regulate their emotions, and a capacity to empathize and respond to the emotions of others. These social-emotional skills are difficult, but the good news is that they can be learned.
How can we learn these skills alongside our children?
The answer is simple: MINDFULNESS at Home
Bringing Mindfulness into your home is the key to supporting both your child(ren) and yourself. Mindfulness is the act of practicing a moment by moment awareness of HOW you are feeling (and not having to figure out WHY, how great is that!?) along with observing your thoughts and bodily sensations. You can then learn to respond to your feelings in healthy and positive ways. And the good news is that Mindfulness works for parents and children alike!
Mindfulness matters more now, than ever before.
I have spent the last 10 years sharing mindfulness to improve the lives of children. And what I have learned is that children love these tools because they instantly recognize how amazing they make their bodies, minds and hearts feel. I have been incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to share these tools with thousands of children between the ages of 1-18 years old.
But when Covid-19 hit, and I was unable to teach children in person, I realized how crucial kids continuing these practices at home would become. And the best part is parents can benefit too. Imagine your child spilling a glass of milk and instead of get upset, they automatically take 3 deep breaths?! What would that mean for your daily family life?
The good news is that bringing Yoga and Mindfulness into your home is easy. Here are five Mindful Yoga Poses for Kids to combat stress:
5 Mindful Yoga Poses for Kids
Stand with feet wide apart, bring hands together, interlace fingers. Make a wood chopping motion swinging the upper body downwards, hinging at the hips and then swinging back up with arms raised overhead. Add a big breath to the movement by inhaling as you raise the arms up and exhaling with a big “HA!” sound on the way down. Woodchopper is an excellent pose to get rid of stress, anxiety and anger and kids love making lots of noise, and is fun for all ages, even adults!
Stand with feet hip distance apart, turn the right foot out to the side, inhale and reach arms up and extend from shoulders. Exhale and reach towards the ankle/shin/thigh of the right leg placing the right hand gently. Extend the left arm straight up towards the ceiling and if it feels comfortable, turn the head and look up towards the left hand. Breathe deeply in and out, opening the chest and grounding through the feet. Triangle Pose is excellent for toning, balance and opening the heart, make it a fun pose by having your child wiggle their fingers as they reach for the stars.
stand with feet together, core engaged and knees soft. Inhale and raise both arms overhead, on the exhale begin to hinge at the hips and bend forwards, as far forward as you feel a good stretch up the back of the legs. Swing the arms side to side and enjoy relaxing and moving like a floppy rag doll, remembering to breathe deeply in and out until you inhale and reach back up.
Warrior 2 Pose
Stand with feet far apart and turn out the left foot, keeping the core engaged and chest lifted. Inhale and lift the arms out from the shoulders, turning the head to look to the left and over the left arm. Exhale and bend the left knee into a deep lunge, then hold the pose breathing deeply and imagining yourself as a strong, powerful and peaceful warrior.
Happy Baby Pose
Lying on your back, bend the knees and hold onto your big toes. Lift the feet up towards the ceiling and relax the head down on the ground. Still holding onto the toes, begin to rock gently side to side, like a happy baby, keeping the core engaged and movements controlled. This playful pose is an excellent way to stretch the hip flexors and release stress and anxiety!
Remember that the key is to offer yoga and mindfulness in fun, interactive, playful ways your child will enjoy. Setting up a mindful spot in your home is a simple way to introduce your family to this wonderful daily practice.
To find out more about how to incorporate mindfulness and yoga into your home, check out our workshop “Mindful You, Mindful Me” to learn easy tips and techniques to bring more happiness and peace into your home. The workshop is online, accessible from any device, learn at your own pace and uses simple tools any parent can incorporate! https://harmonykidsyoga.com/products/824019
Jennie Abbot is the Founder and Director of Harmony Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Company, the creator of YogaBREAK for Classrooms, Harmony at Home Kits, various Parenting and Educator Workshops and The My Peaceful Play Game for Kids. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (CYA-CYT) with the Canadian Yoga Alliance teaching over 10,000 children to date. She has worked with children, families, government organizations, non profits and educators for over 20 years sharing her passion of bringing happiness and peace into the lives of children through yoga and mindfulness! https://harmonykidsyoga.com