When my daughter falls and scrapes her knee the first words
out of my mouth are often “take some deep breaths.” And Sure enough (even at 2 years old) she
starts to inhale and exhale slowly and rhythmically as the tears dry up. The
benefits of breath work (pranayama) are vast, and for children that’s no
exception. Taking deep breaths decreases
stress and anxiety, strengthens the core muscles, and works as a natural pain reliever.
Start early when teaching your little ones
pranayama, and it is sure improve their well-being…and yours!
Here are some exercises you can try at home…
Use feathers to demonstrate how breath works. Hold the feather in your hand, and tell them
to “blow” as if they were blowing on hot food or a candle. Let them observe how the feather flies
through the air. We often pair this up with an eagle pose in our toddler yoga
classes! For older kids you can make it more challenging by instructing them to
try to keep the feather in the air for as long as possible by only using their
breath. No hands allowed!
Take a small toy or stuffed animal for a ride on your
belly. Instruct the child to lay on
their back. Place the toy on their
belly. Tell them to watch the toy move
up and down as they breathe. As they
inhale the toy should move up toward the sky, and as they exhale the toy will
sink toward the ground. It may help to
demonstrate the task on your own belly first.
Allow your child to create some really amazing art with
their breath. Drip some watered down
pain onto a piece of paper and then instruct them to blow through a straw to
move the paint around the page. Not only
does it take a little diaphragmatic breath work, but it engages their artistic
side as well!
Happy breathing! J
I just finished a course entitled Movement
Skills and Fitness Development for Children, and I am super excited to incorporate my
new found knowledge into the services of Mind Body Fitness and into my role as
The most important thing I took from the class... if you don't
move it you will
lose it. Basically,
if a human has not developed fundamental movement skills before they hit
puberty it is very unlikely they will be able to learn them later in life.
Developing these skills (stability, coordination, manipulation, and locomotion)
is key in creating a lifelong relationship with fitness! It is next to
impossible for youngsters to love to move if they have not learned how to
master basic skills in their early years. It is our job as parents to provide
opportunities for children to move, dance, climb, jump and play their way into
an active lifestyle. And YOU may burn a few calories along the way as well!
Some tips for parents…
Variety is key
Introducing a wide array of activities means children will have a better chance
at developing fundamental movement skills. Mix it up – try running on a
soccer field, balancing on a yoga mat, or something in between. Another
plus--when a verity of activities are introduced boredom is less likely to set
Play play play!
Children learn through play, so giving them adult "gym style"
workouts might be safe for their bodies but uninteresting for their minds.
That's why cooperative games, relays, team sports, and dance classes work best.
Try a game of freeze tag next time you are running around the park, so you can
work up a sweat as well!
Think "train to play" not
"train to win"
Once the groundwork is laid with fundamental skills, specialized skills like
throwing, kicking, catching and climbing can be introduced. Perfecting these
skills is not necessary, and unneeded pressure from adults can backfire.
Teaching children these specialized skills should be done in a playful and fun
way. Train to win can come later in life.
Live in NYC?
for a toddler yoga class? Try Mind Body Tot
starting this September!