Over the holidays, my son lost his loose front tooth. He was fine until he glanced in the mirror and saw his toothless (and bloody) grin. I could tell this change was upsetting him. I sat him down and held his tense little hands in mine, and his eyes welled up with tears. “Take a balloon breath” was all I said, and I saw his belly push forward, then a moment later a “whoosh” of air escape his lips. He repeated this a few more time, and immediately the shoulders melted back down, his facial expression changed, and his hands relaxed. Big feelings are a part of us all. We move throughout our days pushing them aside, perhaps revisiting them with more force than they came to us the first time. But for children, when impulse control is just developing, and delayed gratification means close to nothing, those strong emotions are immobilizing.
Asking a child to take a deep breath can be a hard concept, which is why in yoga class we use role modeling, imitation and verbal instruction through imagery to guide children through correct breathing. Children are encouraged to imagine having a balloon of their favorite color in their abdomen that expands as they breathe in and deflates as they exhale (the color indication helps the child’s use imagery).
In our children’s yoga classes, we integrate many different ways to engage and teach the child while providing the many physical benefits yoga and balance. entails; improving gross motor development, agility, flexibility, strength, posture, coordination. Class involves music, storytelling, games, art, and imagery to fully help a child absorb all the benefits yoga has to offer. We encourage children to connect with life and nature and use their imagination. Because children need a quiet time and place in their busy days, class ends with a time of peaceful stillness (through visualization and music) and a circle of gratitude sharing. Most importantly, we encourage play and fun, because this is how children absorb all the benefits yoga has to offer.