“Do you teach mindfulness too?” As a kids yoga teacher, I get this question a lot. And the answer? A resounding YES because yoga is mindfulness in motion.
Mindfulness is a state of heightened awareness that can be achieved by focusing intently on the present moment. Asking a little one in child’s pose to take a deep breath in and notice their belly pressing against their thighs, leading a child through an inquisitive practice of balance while focusing on a still or moving object, or asking a child to tell you where different feelings “live” in their body. All these activities require a heightened awareness of what’s happening in the body and mind at that very moment. This is mindfulness.
Mindfulness in Action
Practicing mindfulness in small, yet impactful bursts like this can help a child build endurance for longer mindfulness activities. That’s because in the same way using our muscles will strengthen them, using our mind strengthens our mind. The act of bringing our attention purposefully to one particular object or activity helps kids (and adults—hint, hint!) build connections in their brain. The stronger these connections get, the easier it will be for them to summon their attention and keep their focus the next time they need to.
Learn to Teach Kids Yoga and Mindfulness
Want to help the kids in your life develop mindfulness skills? You’re just in time to sign up for our Spring Teacher Training! Click HERE for details.
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In the meantime, try one of my favorite Yoga Playhouse mindfulness: Breath Detective
Here’s how it works:
Ask your child if they know how many breaths they took yesterday, or the day before. No? The number was probably somewhere between 17,000 and 25,000. Lucky for us, we don’t have to think about breathing; our body just does it for us. We never have to stop and think, “Time to take another breath!”
But your breath isn’t used to getting attention. If it suddenly becomes the center of attention, it might develop a bad case of stage fright. If you want to see your breath in action, you might need to sneak up on it. First, forget what you think your breath is “supposed to” do and become curious about what it is doing. You might think that your breath is supposed to be loud, or it should travel down to your belly when it comes in, but it might have other plans. Maybe it’s only going as far as your chest, or maybe not even that far. Be patient, wait, and you will get to see what it does.
Sit up tall close your eyes, and put on your imaginary detective coat. It’s time to spy on your breath. On your next breath in, count “1.” On your breath out, count “2.” Keep counting and breathing until you reach “10,” Then stop counting and see if you can JUST WATCH your breath. It might be still for a bit, maybe it will continue moving in and out, or maybe it’ll comes in then pause before moving out. There is no WRONG way to breathe and everybody’s body is different. See what your body does. [GIVE YOUR CHILD A MINUTE OR TWO TO SILENTLY WATCH THEIR BREATH.] The next time you breathe in, stretch your hands toward the ceiling. Breathe out and lower your hands. Now you’re ready to have a great day. Remember to take time throughout the day to see if you can catch your breath doing its job.