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children's fitness

Pranayama for Children

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…

Feather work
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!

Belly Breath
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.

Blow Paint
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  

Children need to move it or they WILL lose it!

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 a parent.

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 in.

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?
Looking for a toddler yoga class? Try Mind Body Tot starting this September!

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