Yoga doesn’t just make kids strong and flexible, it can teach them to identify their feelings and use poses to feel great, no matter what is going on around them. Here are some quick “fixes” for the kids in your life to use and feel their very best.
Try a nice backbend, like Bridge (Setu Bandhasana), Camel (Ustrasana), or Cat/Cow (Marjariasana). If your spine is wilted, and you are slumped over, your body can’t get the oxygen and prana it needs to function fully. Backbends are energizing and a quick way to feel more alert. This is particularly helpful during long periods of sitting (like in testing situations).
We tend to let tension creep into our necks and shoulders. So try a few slow neck circles. Imagine wearing a pointed witch’s hat and use the tip of the hat to draw circles on the ceiling. Then, picture yourself with a long witch’s nose and draw circles on the wall with the tip of it. Shrug your shoulders to your ears and squeeze. Then let them drop. Repeat this a few times.
Anger is exhausting, and often difficult for us to shake off. A twist may help wring out the spine and release some of those bad feelings. Symbolically, a twist allows you to be “in the moment”, as you are facing forward (the future), but also looking behind you (the past). Seated or reclined twists may give kids a chance to see past their momentary anger, especially if paired with a very long, smooth exhale. To extend the exhale, picture a birthday candle just under your nose. Don’t let your exhale blow out your candle.
You have a magic spot on your forehead – your third eye! Just between your eyebrows is an energy center that is the home of wisdom, so use that power to help your memory! Eagle Arms is a great stretch and a quick way to flex your memory muscles. Bring your arms forward, parallel to the floor. Cross the right arm over the left arm and bend your elbows. The backs of your hands are facing each other. Then, if you can, flip the hands and press your palms together. Now use your third eye to look right through your arms. Repeat on the other side. Breathe!
It’s hard to sit still! But if you stretch, sometimes your body will settle down (if only for a little while). Try Reed pose. You can do this in a chair or standing. When you breathe in, stretch your arms overhead and reach for the ceiling. As you breathe out, lean over to the right. Try to keep your body facing forward, just leaning and not twisting. Stay a few breaths and then stretch the other side.
Everyone feels sad sometimes. Forward folds can help you feel better. If you are in a chair, just reach forward with your heart and fold between your knees. Relax and rest like a ragdoll. If you are standing, reach your arms to the ceiling and fold forward, letting your arms and head just dangle to the floor. You can sway if you’d like. Forward folds help your blood move to your brain so it can begin to perk up.
If you’re already happy and feeling good, what could you do to feel better? Spread that good feeling, of course! Close your eyes and picture someone who is not feeling as happy and healthy as you are. They could be a friend, a relative, or someone you don’t know very well. Now when you breathe, long inhales and slow exhales through your nose, imagine that you are breathing for them. You can picture them sitting right next to you. Breathe in love, light, peace, and joy. Breathe out anger, pain and sadness. Breathe in the good for the other person and imagine they are letting you breathe out whatever is hurting them.
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