With school starting around the country, students may be experiencing emotions ranging from joy and excitement, to anxiety or even dread. As parents we do our best to prepare our children for that first day back, but we can’t remove all uncertainty, especially since many schools don’t share class lists or even room assignments in advance.
Teachers will tell you that it takes four to six weeks to settle in to a new classroom routine. They and veteran parents know that those first days or weeks are tiring for little bodies and minds. Keeping evenings low key or employing wind-down yoga may go a long way toward preventing end-of-day meltdowns and frayed nerves.
My daughter (rising second grade) has been using yoga poses and breath to deal with anxious feelings, so I queried her for tips to share:
A Pose and A Breath for Banishing Anxiety
Maya’s favorite pose of all is Tree Pose. It’s her go-to pose for when she needs to settle, concentrate, boost confidence, and remember to breath.
Balance on one leg. Lift the non-standing leg up and turn the knee out. Rest that lift foot on the inside of the calf or inner thigh. Remember to set your gaze at something that is not moving to help with your balance.
Maya is also a fan of Easy Pose for just closing her eyes and imagining or taking a few conscious breaths. She recommends Bumble Bee Breath for calming and turning focus inward. When Bumble Bee Breath is too conspicuous, she does a breathing technique of her own creation: Placing one hand loosely over her nose and mouth, she breathes in and out slowly through the nose two or three times.
Sit in criss-cross applesauce.
Bumble Bee Breath:
Breath in through the noise and breath out with a humming noise of hmmm or bzzzzzz. You can do this with your eyes closed and blocking your ears if you want to.
Relax and Restore
When Maya really needs to calm down or has had a particularly draining day, Child’s Pose or Knee-to-Chest Pose are good precursors to Legs Up the Wall.
Once in Legs-Up-The-Wall, Maya loves a good guided visualization such as A Special Place from the Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck. Her other favorite is a simple story I told about floating on a cloud and what you might see as you drift along. You’ll have to try a few ideas to find out what resonates with your child.
But this final posture she asked to share because “it feels like heaven.” Maya finds this supported restorative pose more relaxing than a simple Corpse Pose and it’s easy to do without a lot of fancy props, a few firm pillows and/or blankets is all you need.
They key feature of this supported variation of Corpse Pose is that the child is lying on an angle and her knees are slightly bent, supported by a bolster from behind, allowing her back and belly to relax completely.
Start by setting up a couple of blanket or cushions on an angle like the picture above. Have the child sit directly in front of the low end of the blanket pile and lie back upon them. Use cushion or folded blankets to support the child’s arms and knees. An eye pillow or darkening the room completes the set up.
This position is so restful. I recommend that parents and caregivers might want to try it too.
Children heading back to school is a transition time in every family. Hopefully these suggestions for relieving anxiety and exhaustion will help your whole family move into the fall routine with ease and grace.
Jen Mueller, E-RYT, RCYT, brings a sense of joy and playfulness to her classes – both the adult and kids classes – and hopes to offer her students freedom she finds in yoga. She founded Breathing Space to create hub for family yoga on Capitol Hill and share her enthusiasm for age- and developmentally-appropriate poses, games, and songs with yogis of all ages. Jen teaches the ChildLight Yoga Basic Kid's Yoga Training and the ChildLight Yoga Baby & Toddler Training. As a licensed Yoga 4 Classrooms trainer, she also shares Yoga 4 Classrooms workshops for educators in Washington DC. Jen invites you to join a kids yoga class at the ChildLight Yoga Studio in Dover, NH, or Breathing Space on Capitol Hill, find an instructor near you, or become certified in ChildLight Yoga and start your own class!