Tips

We try to share a Yoga Tip in many of our newsletter. We hope these tips help you have fun with your little one at home!

#1 – I Love My Family!
#2 – Stop and Smell the Flowers
#3 – Roar Like a Lion
#4 – Let them know they’re Special!
#5 – Beat the Summer Heat with Cooling Breath
#6 – Bring your Family Back Together with a Daily Yoga Moment
#7 – Have a Ball!
#8 – Earth Day Fun!

YOGA TIP #1: I LOVE MY FAMILY!

Help your child learn the names of your family members while getting a great stretch with this fun activity. First, collect pictures of all of your family members (this could include parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and of course, of your child). Find a place to display the photos like mounting them on poster board, putting them up on a bulletin board, or even creating a fun clothesline of family photos. Then, take time to show each family member some love…here’s how:

Step 1: Make your hands into a loose fist and bring them together into your chest while you say: “I”
Step 2: Open your arms out wide while you say: “LOVE”
Step 3: Bring your arms back in and give yourself a big hug while you name the family member whose photo you’re looking at.

Help your child do this with you and repeat with each family member. As they grow, they will be able to do this on their own. Enjoy!

YOGA TIP #2: STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS!

Life is busy – when was the last time you stopped and smelled the flowers with your child? You are probably wondering what this has to do with yoga…more than you can imagine. One benefit of practicing yoga (both for adults and kids) is the opportunity to stop and take time for yourself. Smelling flowers is one fun way to help your child learn to become aware of their breath.

All you need is a flower — either a real flower or a silk flower will work for this exercise.

Real Flowers:
Spring is a great time to do this exercise with real flowers. You can get a bouquet at the store, or find flowers at the park or in your own garden. Better yet – you could head over to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April where you will find rows and rows of beautiful tulips and daffodils to smell!

If the flower is cut, have your child hold it in their hands and ask them to “smell the flower”. Once they do, mention the word “inhale” and “breathe in” as they’re smelling it so they equate the action of smelling something with inhaling and breathing in.

Then have them blow air through their mouth by encouraging them to “blow on the petals and make them move” and mention the words “exhale” and “breathe out” as they do. You can do the same with planted flowers, but they’ll have to bend down to do so. Show them by doing it yourself.

Silk Flowers:
If you’re using a silk flower, you may wish to put a drop of essential oil (lavender is a great one) in the middle of the flower so it has a nice scent (of course, be sure to use a scent that they’re not allergic to and note that if the child is taking any homeopathic remedy, they should stay away from strong scents as they will get in the way of their treatment).

Have your child hold the silk flower in their hands and ask them to “smell the flower”. Once they do, mention the word “inhale” and “breathe in” as they’re smelling it so they equate the action of smelling something with inhaling and breathing in.

Then have them blow air through their mouth by encouraging them to “blow on the petals and make them move” and mention the words “exhale” and “breathe out” as they do.

Other Scents:
You can also use other scents to help them learn to “inhale,” All you need in some kind of container with holes at the top. You can use empty, clean salt and pepper shakers, or even a paper cup covered with a paper towel. Punch a few holes in the paper towel and secure it to the cup with a rubber band.

Place items with strong, pleasant scents inside the containers. Orange rinds or cinnamon powder are two items that work well for this exercise. Have the child close their eyes and have them “smell” the shakers and mention “inhale”. Then see if they can tell you what they smell.

Eventually they will be able to “inhale” and “exhale” without a flower or shaker and will learn to use that skill to give themselve a way to cope in stressful situations. With a little reminder from you, your child can “breathe” through a tantrum and help themselves calm down and move on. It’s a wonderful skill which will serve them their entire life!

YOGA TIP #3: ROAR LIKE A LION!

As the old proverb says – a barking dog never bites…the same can be said for little lions! A little roar goes a long way to relieve frustration and help your little lions turn into little lambs. Practice Lion’s Breath with your kids throughout the day and they will be ready to roar during stressful times to help calm themselves down. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing and having a roaring good time. Follow these easy steps and you’ll be roaring in no time:

  1. Invite your child to come into a seated position on the floor (sitting on their heels with their hands in their lap works well, as does sitting cross-legged.)
  2. Encourage them to breathe through the nose (if you tried the flower breathing in tip #2 above, you can remind them that breathing through their nose is like smelling a flower.)
  3. Then ask them to exhale through their mouth as they stretch their tongue towards their chin.
  4. Invite them to open their eyes wide and let out a load “roar”.

Be sure to SHOW them how by doing it yourself! Try sitting across from your child so you can roar at one another. Who has the loudest roar? Who has the longest roar?

If you have more than one child, you can encourage them to use Lion’s Breath to resolve a conflict…just have them roar at each other until they work everything out. Before you know it, they’ll forget all about the initial conflict.

If your little one is still a baby, you try leaning over them while they are on their backs and doing a quiet Lion’s Breath. You can also try it as a tummy time distraction — you might just get a giggle out of them!

It’s also fun to try Lion’s Breath in the car…especially when you’re stuck in traffic!

YOGA TIP #4: LET THEM KNOW THEY’RE SPECIAL!

We all need a little encouragement and a kind word from time to time – especially our kids. Studies have shown that the mind of a child is more open and accepting of ideas and suggestions because life experience hasn’t conditioned them to be cynical or skeptical about what they hear. Because of this, a child can either quickly accept positive empowering messages, or negative disempowering ones.

Affirmations are wonderful to share with children of any age. You can start the minute they are born and let them know you think they are special. Once they are old enough to talk, you can change the word “you” to “I” and have them repeat the phrase. Once they know how to read, they can read the affirmation themselves. However, don’t miss the opportunity to share a special moment with your child and let them know you believe they are special too – be there when they read the affirmation and repeat it to them as well.

Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with new things to say each day. I love you or you are loved is always a great one to start with, but there are many more which will melt your child’s heart and help boost their self-esteem! Here’s a fun and easy way to share a daily affirmation with your child:

  1. Come up with a list of affirmations, or click here to view a list I put together to get you started (you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this file).
  2. Print out the list of affirmation and cut them into separate slips of paper (if your child is old enough to use scissors, they can help you do this)
  3. Place the papers into a basket and pick one out each day to share with your child

You will see that your child will look forward to this activity every day. You can pick a special place to put the basket and a consistent time you will come together every day (maybe first thing in the morning or right before bed) to share an affirmation with your child.

I always love to hear your ideas! Send me an email with affirmations to add to our list.

YOGA TIP #5: BEAT THE SUMMER HEAT WITH COOLING BREATH!

It’s hot outside (and in many places, inside too!) We are experiencing an unusually hot summer in Seattle and we’re all looking for new ways to cool off. Did you know that you can use your breath as your body’s very own internal air conditioner? Try practicing Cooling Breath “Shitali Pranayama” – here’s how:

1. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with something under your sitting bones to elevate your hips if that’s appropriate for your body.

2. Take two or three deep inhales and exhales through your nose to bring your focus inward.

3. Roll your tongue, curling the sides in towards each other to form a tube. Stick the end of your tongue out between your pursed lips. If you can’t roll your tongue, just purse your lips making a small “o” shape with your mouth.

4. Inhale through the tube of the tongue – you will feel the cool breath entering your body.

5. Exhale through your nose.

6. Repeat 5-10 times as you feel the cooling effect.

Once you’re used to this breathing technique, try it in front of your kids. Starting from the age of 18 months, they will likely try and mimic what you’re doing. If they are younger, they might find it funny too! Either way, you’re spending quality time together and hopefully getting a break from the heat while you’re at it! Have a great summer!

YOGA TIP #6: Bring your Family Back Together with a Daily Yoga Moment

The lazy days of summer are coming to a close. Kids are going back to school, little ones are heading back to daycare or Preschool and you might be heading back to work. With everyone’s schedule changing, it’s nice to take some time at the end of the day to come together as a family and spend some special time together. Here are some ideas for taking a daily yoga moment with your family:

  • Word of the Day: Have each family member take turns picking a word each day so everyone gets a chance. Sit in a circle holding hands and chant or sing the word three or more times together. Some word ideas could be: patience, love, kindness, etc.
  • Pick an animal of the day: Have each family member pick an animal of the day and create a yoga pose that represents that animal. Don’t forget to incorporate the animal sounds!
  • Partner Up: Pair up (and if you don’t have an event number of family members in your family, rotate partners) and try some partner yoga poses like sitting back to back feeling each other’s support. You can also gently lock elbows together and have one partner lean back while the other leans forward (grown ups – if you have a child as your partner, remember they are smaller than you and be gentle!) Turn around to face one another while seated and have the soles of your feet touching your parnter’s. Hold hands and rock back and forth — you can sing “Row Row Row Your Boat…” while doing this fun exercise. Another one to try is a double tree – stand next to your partner with legs touching and lift the opposite leg up into tree pose (so one partner has their left leg up, while the other has their right leg up on the outside of the tree…the touching legs become the trunk). You can get creative with your hands by putting the inside arms around each other’s waists while the outside arms come together in the center with palms touching in namaste.

Whatever you decide to do, the important part is that you’re together as a family sharing a special moment each day. Enjoy!

YOGA TIP #7: Have a Ball!

It’s getting cold outside! If you’re looking for fun indoor activities to keep your kiddos busy, just have a ball! If you haven’t discovered the magic of the Fitness Ball yet, then you must! I haven’t come across anything more versatile which can grow with you and your child. Here are some ideas about how you can use a fitness ball to enjoy some quality time indoors:

Baby:
Hold the baby securely in your arms, sit on the ball and bounce away! Most babies LOVE being bounced on the ball and bouncing stimulates their vestibular system which helps in large motor development.

Toddlers:
Place your toddler on the ball on their belly. Make sure to hold on to them at all times and gently rock them back and forth. You can try singing to them while they’re on the ball, or your spouse or a sibling could be on the other side of the ball greeting them when they roll in their direction.

You can also try laying your toddler on the ball on their back. This time, don’t rock the ball – just let them sink into the support of the ball and enjoy a gentle chest opening stretch. If they begin to move their head around, gently roll the ball toward you and remove them from the ball. Then lay them down on a flat surface on their back and bring their knees into their chest to counter pose the gentle back bend they did on the ball.

Tykes & Kids:
Your tyke will also enjoy rolling on the ball (see the Toddler section above), so you can give that a try. You can also just sit on the floor across from them with your legs wide and roll the ball back and forth. This is a great time to sing with your child – do you know any songs about rolling balls? How about “I roll the ball to you, You roll the ball to me…” I learned that song in a Kindermusik class I took with my kids and they still love it!

For bigger kids, they can roll on the ball on their bellies and then you can hold on to their feet and help them roll forward until they touch the ground with their hands and “walk” off the ball using their hands. They can also practice balancing on the ball by sitting on it. Be sure they are in an open space and be nearby so you can help. Balancing on the ball will help build their core muscles.

If you have two balls, your child can be on their belly on one and you or another child can be on your belly on another ball facing them and you can be holding hands. Try to find a stabile place where you both feel centered and balanced and see how long you can stay steady and support one another in this position.

Adults:
Don’t worry – you can get in the act too! When the kiddos are all worn out and taking a nap (or having quiet time), you can use the fitness ball to build your core strength and stability. There are lots of exercises you can do on the ball – here are some ideas:

  • Squats: Place the ball at your back so that it’s between you and a wall. Push into the ball with your back while you bend your knees and come into a squat. You can move in an out of the squat (engaging your core muscles and using your leg muscles), or hold the squat for longer counts before coming back up.
  • Sit ups: sit on the ball with your feet flat on the ground and roll your tailbone down until your knees are bent and your back is arched around the ball. Engage your abdominals by tilting your pelvis and do some sit ups with small, deliberate movements.
  • Push ups: lay on the ball face down (belly on the ball) and roll forward until your hands touch the group and your feet are supported by the ball. Bend and straighten your elbows to do some supported push ups.
  • Lateral work: Strengthening your external oblique muscles and reducing “love handles” with this easy and fun exercise. Just sit on top of the ball with your feet on the floor and hands in your lap. Then just swing your hips from side to side feeling the extension and contraction your muscles on each side of your torso.

These are just some ideas on how you can use a fitness ball at home. Have fun exploring and playing with your child and maybe you’ll discover some new activities to do together. If you do, we’d love to hear your ideas!

YOGA TIP #8: Earth Day Fun!

April 22nd is Earth Day. Earth Day is a Birthday – just like a Birthday is a special day to celebrate a person, Earth Day is a special day to celebrate the earth. So this year, commemorate Earth Day by planting something outside with your child. You can plant a flower or a tree, or if you’d like to be adventurous, start a garden together! Remember that children love to grow things and love to get their hands dirty so just dig in and have fun!

If your child is under the age of one and you have some room in your yard, you could plant a small tree and take their picture next to the tree. Over the years, you can watch the tree grow as your child grows!

If your child is a little older, here are some ideas on how to get started:

1. Make a plan: Talk to them about Earth Day and ask them what they would like to plant in honor of the earth. Make a list of what you’ll need (the older the child, they more they will be involved in this step.)

2. Visit a nursery: Once the plan is in place, take them with you to buy everything on your list. If you are replanting a flowering plant, let them pick out the one they like!

3. Dig and make the bed: Kids love to get their hands dirty, so put them to work! Bring your supplies outside and have your child help you dig. Don’t forget to provide your children with some nice soil to sprinkle into the hole they just created so that the seed or plant has a nice comfortable “bed to lay in”. Depending on the age of the child, this would be a great time to talk about Earth Day and what we can do to help keep our planet and environment safe and beautiful.

4. Kids love water: Kids also love water as much as they love dirt, so let them fill up a watering can and fill the hole that they just finished digging with water.

5. Make sure THEY are doing the planting: To keep your kids engaged in the activity and to help make it more memorable and meaningful for them, make sure they are doing most of the work. If you are planting seeds, make sure you let them put the seeds into their new bed or dirt. If you’re replanting a flower, loosen the flower from it’s container and help them place the flower into it’s new bed. The older the child, the more hands off you’ll be able to be.

6. Tuck them in: They’ll have just as much fun putting the dirt back, as they had digging them hole. You can continue the bed theme by explaining that they have to “tuck” the plant or seeds in with dirt on top.

7. Shower them with love: Have your child water their newly planted (and tucked in) seeds or plants. You can explain that every time they water them, they are showering them with their love.

When you’re all done, ask your child which part was their favorite and why. For more information and ideas about Gardening with Children, visit the Gardening with Children page on the Colorado State University’s website, or eartheasy.com.

Here are some other fun Earth Day resources and activities:

Go for a Walk!
Earth Day is a great day for walk! There are so many parks and trails in our area so go outside and enjoy a nice walk together. Or go for a hike - Joan Burton’s Spring Hikes with Kids page might help you find the perfect spot!

Earth Day Coloring Page: 
Print out this great Earth Day coloring page from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Book List: 
Another great way to teach your children about Earth Day is by sharing one of these books with them (check them out from the Library or click the link to buy them online.):