Recently, mindfulness has been sweeping the world with its benefits – and with decreased stress, improved energy, better sleep, and decreased levels of anxiety and depression, just to name a few, it’s no wonder so many people are adding mindfulness practices to their daily routine. But did you know that mindfulness can benefit your little sidekicks, too?
If picturing your kids sitting down criss-cross applesauce to meditate makes you feel a little bit skeptical, don’t be alarmed. There are many different ways to incorporate mindfulness into the lives of your little ones that will keep them much more engaged than sitting on a pillow for 20 minutes!
Let’s go over a few small but mighty exercises for the small but mighty kids in your life.
1. Sit Spot Meditation – this exercise is a concentration and focus activity that also encourages kids to get outside. To practice it, all you need is a trail to walk on! Take a stroll with your little one and find a comfortable place to sit down. Ask them to close their eyes and just listen. Start with small amounts of time, as short as a minute or two, then ask them to open their eyes and tell you what they heard! The more you practice with the kids, the longer time increments you can have them listen. For an added fun element, you can also have your child keep a special nature journal where they can write or draw things they notice on your walk together.
2. The Quick Four – this is a simple exercise based off a traditional yoga breath I started teaching my daughter when she was feeling overwhelmed. When she’s feeling frustrated and having trouble finding words to express herself, we “Stop and take a breather.” For this exercise, you will count for your child to help them ground themself while they breathe. Start by having them inhale while you count to four. This can be demonstrated by telling them to suck in as much air as they can through their nose. Then count to four as they hold their breath, if necessary, telling them to pinch their nose and puff up their cheeks like they’re going to jump into the pool. Then count to four as they exhale, reminding them to breathe out fully like they just finished running really fast! Do this for a few rounds until they become visibly calmer and are better able to express in words how they’re feeling.
Kiara Martilla is a freelance writer and yoga teacher