Recently we found James had a tough transition to school. He’d been in preschool and we took it for granted he’d manage the switch to full time school, but he wasn’t quite as sure as we were. Raging, crying, and sleeplessness were some of the problems we could see. So we looked around to see what might help him to be more mentally able to cope with the different speed he was experiencing in the classroom. We found that a bit of mindfulness and yoga has cultivated better communication, focus, and coping skills in him. We turned to books, CDs and YouTube. More details below.
1. I already love yoga.
“Do yoga around them, and they will want to imitate you”. I do yoga at home, and have taken Noah to yoga with me. I love to take the opportunity to have fun teaching them poses; the ones with descriptive names, like Tree Pose or Downward-Facing Dog, are always a big hit. Even Rob will wobble along doing the chair pose, or being a mountain.
Watch this video of kids trying yoga poses based on the name. It’s so sweet and funny.
We love these books too, especially the illustrations in the first two, and the CD that accompanies the Sitting Still Like a Frog book (slide the carousel for the 3rd book).
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2. Mindfulness is a really useful skill to have.
Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgement. Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. Mindfulness in the classroom, sometimes called “contemplative pedagogy,” involves teaching methods designed to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration, and insight. We are thrilled that James’ school prefers mindfulness over time-outs.
We try a variation of this exercise to help with James when he’s just so busy in his brain he’s feeling overwhelmed.
3. Developing problem solving skills.
Everyone wants a problem solver not a worrier, don’t they?! Kids easily have an innate investigative nature, and I really want James to develop it to continue to learn and evolve.
One of the best methods for eliminating worry is to focus on a solution. One of James’ skills, that he’s pretty proud of, is being a problem solver. Yoga can help him to develop this skill beyond a quick one-dimensional approach. We have a little yoga wind-down in the evening, and help him to leave his problems behind to get a better sleep at night. The different ways our bodies work means we look different while we’re doing yoga, and so there isn’t one approach to the poses.
There is more than one way to do or consider things, and having this ability to work things out differently puts kids in a position of empowerment, helps open their minds, and may also foster more harmonious relationships with classmates and siblings.
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Do you do yoga or practice mindfulness with your children?