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We encourage everyone in our family to keep moving even if it means just getting on the treadmill for 20 minutes. It’s so much easier to get kids moving if they’re doing something fun. I chose an up dog/down dog flow for this installment in our Yoga for Kids series because it’s an allover body exercise that feels good and is enjoyable to do. Get on the floor with your child and do this pose flow that offers many benefits:
- encourages blood flow
- stimulates organs
- relieves sinus stuffiness
- improves posture
- stretches entire front and back of body
- builds core and upper body strength
- develops flexibility
Kids learn so much about us by what we take time to do. Do we show them how we appreciate and take care of our wonderful bodies? Spend just one minute a day on the floor with your child doing a yoga pose, and not only will you both will receive healthful benefits, but you’ll be setting a powerful example.
Here’s the second post in a series to help you and your child find more strength, flexibility, balance and focus. This week, we look at Slide, also known as Reverse Plank. When performed regularly, this posture offers many benefits:
- increases strength in the back, glutes, hamstrings, calves and triceps
- improves core strength
- promotes discipline
- develops balance and focus
- opens and stretches chest and shoulders
If you’re looking for one simple move to increase your core strength, this is it. Boat Pose, a staple both in yoga and Pilates classes, is a great alternative to performing dozens of crunches which can be hard on the neck or planks which can stress the wrists. Do this posture with your child and try to maintain it for a minute, but listen to your back. If you feel any strain, bend your knees or lower both feet to the floor. This go-to core move has many benefits:
- builds core strength
- improves balance
- develops focus
- cultivates discipline
Finally, many people find this pose more comfortable when performed on a mat or blanket to cushion the tailbone. Give it a try!
One of the things I love about yoga is that it reminds us of when we were children and turned upside down, rolled around, balanced on our hands and twisted ourselves into strange shapes just for fun. When I teach yoga to kids, they take right to it because they intuitively understand the playful aspect of the poses.
This week starts a series of vlogs highlighting various yoga postures you can share with your children, and you’ll all benefit. To kick it off, let’s try Crow Pose. This arm balance is always a hit with the kids and offers many benefits:
- develops the ability to focus
- increases upper body strength
- improves balance
- cultivates coordination
- builds confidence
The biggest complaint I hear from my yoga students is tight hips. Hours of driving, sitting behind a desk or lounging on the couch makes for shortened, overworked hip muscles. These muscles in turn pull on your pelvis and lower back causing aches, pains and stiffness. Fortunately, you can reverse the effects of tight hips with focused stretches. Although you can do this posture alone, when done with a partner or against wall, Seated Pigeon pose is even more effective in loosening your hips and bringing relief to overly tight pelvic muscles:
- Sit on the floor, lean against your partner, and stretch your legs out in front of you.
- Cross one ankle above the opposite knee to make a Figure Four shape.
- If you can stretch further, pull the bottom leg into a bent position.
- Take turns gently pressing your back against your partner for a deeper stretch.
- Switch legs and repeat.
You will experience immediate relief in your hips after performing this pose. Get your children involved to prevent hip pain later and help them move freely.
Who doesn’t love being snowed in when you’re snuggled up on your sofa, cozy under a warm blanket with your favorite warm beverage? Eventually, someone has to go out and move that pretty but heavy white stuff. If you’re on shoveling duty next snow storm, save your back and body from strain by taking frequent breaks to stretch. Try these three moves for relief:
- Standing Cat/Cow: Flow with your breath between arching and rounding your back to limber up all the muscles running alongside your spine.
- Standing Forward Bend: Deeply stretch your hamstrings, back and shoulders with this soothing move.
- Standing Twist: Unwind the muscles along your arms, shoulders, chest, waist and back while improving spinal mobility.
Take care of your body by taking just one minute to stretch during this strenuous activity. Let this be the winter you sustain no injuries while shoveling so you are free to enjoy the rest of your time.
Even though we may be happy about shopping for loved ones, it can still take a toll on your body. Standing in long lines, carrying heavy bags and navigating through crowds can result in tight shoulders, aching back and leg cramps. Grab a bench at the mall, and take one minute to unwind with these three stretches:
- Shoulders: roll shoulders forward and up on an inhale, back and down on the exhale, then reverse.
- Back: sit tall and bring one hand to the outside of the opposite knee. Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale and twist. Repeat on the other side.
- Hamstrings and Calves: Sit on the edge of the bench. Straighten one leg and flex the foot. On an exhale, come forward with a flat back. Tuck the chin as you inhale and roll back up. Repeat on the other leg.
Give these a try, and you might actually feel better after a shopping trip! (Sorry for the shaky video; Jenny got a little distracted while we were filming at the mall.)
Whether you’re walking on an icy driveway or holding onto several objects while climbing stairs, you need good balance. But if you have a tough time of it, you’re not alone. Most of my yoga students and clients tell me that balancing postures are the most difficult. Try balancing right now. How was that? Harder than expected?
Because balance is so important to safety, I always include these postures in my classes, but you don’t have to attend a yoga class to develop your equilibrium. One minute of practice a day is all you need. So when your phone rings, stand up and hold the conversation on your toes or one leg. Next time you have to stand on your tiptoes to reach the highest shelf, dust the top of the refrigerator or decorate the tree, you’ll feel the difference.
Thanksgiving is a much-beloved holiday in our home. My guy likes to cook massive amounts for food for just the three of us, and his stuffing is legendary. This year, he is on standby, so the cooking falls to me. I’m up for the challenge, especially since I’m armed with a few good stretches to relieve back tension from standing at the stove. This standing forward bend will benefit you on many levels:
- elongates spinal muscles
- decompresses neck
- stretches hamstrings
- improves circulation
Take a minute for this stretch, and your body will also be thankful this holiday.
In our fast-paced lives, it can be hard to settle easily into sleep. Electronics stimulate the nervous system and keep our minds racing. Busy after-school schedules can prevent deep relaxation as we prepare for bed. Yoga can combat these challenges and prepare the body for restful sleep so needed for healthy children and adults in several ways:
- Deep breathing: the yogic technique of focusing on breath helps the nervous system to relax.
- Stretches: Knee/Chest Pose and Reclining One-Leg Twist stretch and unwind back, hip and abdominal muscles that work all day to maintain posture.
- Restorative Poses: Reclining Cobbler’s Pose and Constructive Rest Pose relax and calm the entire body.
It only takes a few minutes to help your children unwind and get ready for deep, restful sleep, and it may start them on a life-long journey of wellness and good health.