Blog

This time of year marks a major transition from summer freedom to fall structure. Typically, parents are preparing for the school year with closet cleanses and refreshing clothing and school supplies. Kids are feeling excitedly nervous about their new schools, classrooms, teachers and friends. That is normal, but with Covid-19, it’s not normal; it’s amplified! Worry is specific (e.g. nervous about the first day of school) while anxiety is general (e.g. anxious about school).

Worry is often felt in the head, is temporary and leads to problem solving. Anxiety is felt in the body and persistent. Yoga helps us identify and cope with both because mental health is always important, especially now.

With Covid-19 cases on the rise and many schools shifting to distance learning online, parents are scrambling to set up safe support systems academically and socially for their children. With the collective worries and multiple moving parts, it’s stressful for kids and parents alike. Yoga helps us adapt to the extra and ongoing uncertainty.

Notice & Observe

Issues emerge when our nervous system kicks into gear without us recognizing it. Our senses perceive a threat and in lightening speed inform the brain. The response always shows up in our body. The next time you’re upset, take a moment to notice and observe where you feel it in your body.

The Sympathetic Nervous System is designed to keep us alive. It’s really effective because it requires no real thought. It’s automatic and helpful for survival, but not so helpful for most of our everyday living. It often creates more problems than it solves! In non-emergency situations, we can slow that system down with Yoga - mindfulness, movement and meditation.

Mindfulness is the awareness of what is happening inside ourselves and outside ourselves so we can thoughtfully respond to a variety of situations. Becoming more aware of sensations in our bodies is why we do Yoga. This awareness brings power to our ability to perceive what is a true threat and what is not. Kids can do it if we show them how!

Stop & Breathe

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. Science supports the easiest and most accessible action you can take consciously to respond to a stressful situation is to stop and breathe. Breathing slows your automatic response system down so you can correctly assess what’s happening now and what needs to happen next.

Yoga introduces and develops beneficial breath-work with several different exercises that build the skill set over time. It’s never too early to start. Parents practice with babies and toddlers (helps with tantrums) and once kids know how, they model the way. When teenagers can stop and breathe, they have successfully built a healthy habit that will serve them for life.

Move & Rest

Once worries enter our system, they need a way out or they get stuck! It’s important to move and release any anxiety physically. It can be as simple as shaking it off - like a dog does when it encounters and overcomes a threat. It’s the body’s way of getting rid of something negative and it’s important! Research shows stuck energy creates diseases, and at the very least, dis-ease which doesn’t feel good. Plus, Covid-19 related anxiety and depression is on the rise in kids.

Yoga creates shifts so our bodies and minds work better. As a flowing breathing meditation from our toes to our nose, we release and then we rest. A peaceful state of stillness without sleeping is critical for our Parasympathetic Nervous System to be calm and reset so we can recover and become more resilient.

Covid-19 has brought many losses and uncertainty to our lives especially for kids entering the new school year. It’s demanded we slow down and re-think what matters most. Our health is essential, and that is certain. It’s a choice we can make everyday to wear a mask and integrate Yoga into our daily lives with kids both on and off the mat.

Helping Kids Cope

While kids are usually very adaptable, the pandemic can be especially difficult for some children. They’ll also likely be missing school and their friends, so be patient with your kids and help reassure them that things will be okay.

If you’re trying to inspire your kids to read more, graphic novels can be excellent for piquing their interest in books. Not all graphic novels are appropriate for all ages; be sure to consider whether the storyline is age-appropriate, and read a few reviews before you buy.

Another way to help your kids cope is to introduce them to some basic yoga practices. Yoga is great for stress relief, exercise, and mental clarity. Consider incorporating yoga — It’s Yoga Kids has some very helpful tips to get you started — and simple meditation into your kids’ morning and nighttime routines to help them relax and feel ready for the day.

Special thanks to contributor Emma Grace Brown! (emmagracebrown.com)

For households that are self-isolating together, it may be challenging to keep the peace at all times. While it may seem healthy for families to spend more time together, it can be hard when you and your family members feel cooped up with limited alone-time.

Common Causes of Tension

One of the most common reasons your family members will be feeling tense right now is the collective stress of uncertainty. We don’t all adapt at the same speed, so keep that in mind if you notice your kids or partner is exhibiting signs of stress and unease over the pandemic. To alleviate boredom and help restore a sense of purpose and productivity, find things to do around the house, whether it’s cleaning up your wardrobe, learning to cook, or reading a book. You can take up old hobbies or start new ones, such as gardening. Gardening is a great option if you have the outdoor space for it — not only will it give you some fresh veggies in a few months, it’s great for getting a bit of exercise and fresh air. One important practice for households that are isolating together is getting outside for shared activities. There are plenty of ways to do this, whether it’s taking a walk to the park as a family, going to the beach for a swim, or even having an impromptu picnic in your backyard. 

Thank you to contributor Emma Grace Brown (Emmagracebrown.com). Read Part 2 in two weeks!

Reading about the How Melissa & Doug captured the toy market, one wooden block at a time, I was struck by this excerpt:


“Kids ages 8 to 12 spend an average of four hours and 38 minutes on screens a day, while children 8 and under average two hours and 19 minutes, according to the safe technology nonprofit Common Sense Media. The AAP warns that the overuse of screens puts children at risk of sleep deprivation and obesity, and although it’s still too early to determine the exact effects screens have on children, there are researchers attempting to glean some preliminary insights. …A study commissioned by the National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, found that limiting screen time improves kids’ brain function and academic performance.”

Yoga can be incredibly helpful for older kids whose pre-puberty bodies and brains are preparing for big changes.  It serves all kids academically with Mindset and Movement practices for the classroom to improve transitions and performance.  Simple practices that take 2 to 10 minutes have increased positive classroom collaboration and test scores at our participating schools. 

Yoga for preschoolers, ages three to six years old, helps maintain the flexibility they were born with and build the strength they need to hold their bodies up for optimal learning. This focus helps prepare them for school and how to navigate respectful relationships with friends and teachers in the absence of their parents. 

In yoga, preschool children are very engaged and collaborative. They contribute to the class with their creativity. It’s fun to incorporate their ideas and to experience the contrast between loud and quiet, and big and small, which helps them learn self-regulation skills.

You can create a foundation of health and success when you start yoga early in life. These skills can take a child to new heights in kindergarten, elementary school and into the teenage years.

Page 1 of 8

Learn all sorts of useful tips about Yoga for Kids!