Amidst the hype and holiday buzz, life can become stressful for families. Finding ways to let go of stress and anxiety while bonding as a family can be challenging. Today we focus on a few things from the yoga world that can help you reduce stress this holiday season. As you may already be aware, practicing yoga offers great health benefits to individuals. And fortunately, yoga is not only for adults. Kids can practice yoga as well! Let yourself and your kids shake off the stress. These can be great ways to enjoy feel-good moments together!
As we mentioned previously in our blog on helping kids calm down when they’re upset, modeling is one of the best ways children learn to make informed choices that improve their quality of life. Here are a few steps that you can model and share with children of any age.
- Move to let the wiggles out
- Get upside down
- Notice your exhale
Step one: Move.
Let yourself and your kids get the wiggles out! Allow yourself to embrace the stress, embrace the energy, the chaos, the not-so-frequent peaceful moments.
Yoga is often associated with stress reduction and calming. You might be wondering, “How do I find time to do this myself, let alone get my kids to join along?” Noticing and making peace with the stress itself can offer relief. Whether you’re comfortable with yoga poses or not, don’t worry. Just let yourself take time to move your body. Whether it’s you or your kid who seems uptight or needing to move—go with it.
To encourage your family to move together for a sustained period of time, try setting a timer and dancing for the agreed time. As you groove, you might even ask yourself and your kid spatial awareness questions. Are you standing one foot or two feet? Where are your arms in space? What’s the air feel like on your skin? Is it cool? Is it warm? Maybe that seems unnecessary. That’s okay, too! Simply let this time be for free-flow, uninterrupted movement.
Step two: Get upside down and allow yourself and kids to stay there.
It may seem odd, but allowing your lower body to be higher than your upper body promotes stress-relief and relaxes the nervous system.
Find a space in your home where you can put your hips, legs, or feet above your upper body in a comfortable way. This could look like standing and folding forward to touch your toes. It could also be done sitting in a chair and bending over to touch your toes. These work well for kids, too. For those of you with younger children, you might want to try holding your child upside down while giving them a hug. Another great way to get the benefits of being upside down, and my personal favorite, is to put my legs up the wall. To do this, sit with one side of your body beside the a wall and swing your legs up the wall so that back of your legs and feet are touching the wall and your back is against the floor. You can grab a pillow or a blanket to put under your hips and make yourself comfortable. Whatever way you elevate your hips without putting strain on your back or neck will be helpful and stress-reducing. This one is great to do before bed-time.
Step three: Notice your exhale.
Whenever possible, being aware of your exhalations is another great way to reduce stress, calm your nervous system and bring you back to the present moment. There’s no special position for this. All you need to do is notice that your body is exhaling (and inhaling) naturally, without any assistance. This incredibly simple but powerful tool is wonderful to keep in your back pocket. If this seems too abstract, place one hand on your stomach and observe how it expands while you inhale and fades away on the exhale. This technique can also be helpful for children to show then the exhale.
Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy yourself and your family!
To learn more about fantastic kids’ yoga opportunities right here in the Eugene and Springfield areas, check out:
If you’re interested in more specific calming yoga postures for kids, check out: