A person’s ability to move through the changes in life with ease and flexibility is an invaluable skill to acquire. Think back to the last time you went through a change such as moving houses or starting a new job… How did you handle the change? Were you able to approach that transition with ease and find ways to soften the butterflies in your belly or the over-activeness of your worrying mind? Were you able to stay calm during the stressful times?
When children go through big life changes it can be difficult for them just as it is difficult for us adults. Because we know how tough these changes can be, as parents and caregivers we want to ease this process as much as possible for the child. While this is necessary, it is also important to provide your child the tools to go through these changes with ease (as well as show your life as a positive and honest example of how you handle transitions). When we give our children space to confront these changes and transitions, they grow stronger, more secure, and are able to approach the future transitions with grace and confidence.
As you guide your child to approach the changes of starting a new school, moving to a new home, making new friends, or welcoming a new sibling into your home, incorporate these yoga postures and breathing techniques to help your child (and you!) cultivate more ease in this time of transition.
Yoga Sequence for Life Transitions
– easy pose with twist –
Setting up: Sitting on the floor with your ankles crossed one in front of the other, rather than on top of each other. Your spine is long and your belly is soft. Close your eyes and gently place your hands on your knees or your belly. Breathing in, feel your belly expand. Breathing out, feel your belly get soft.
Twist: Taking the left hand to the floor behind you and the right hand to the left knee, take a breath in to grow a tiny bit taller and a breath out to twist the chest a little more behind you. Being gentle with your body here. Then switch sides.
Benefits: This pose opens the shoulders and chest for better breathing and circulation, increases flexibility in the spine to improve posture, strengthens core muscles, and calms the nervous system.
– starfish breath –
Setting up: First, take your pointer finger to the base of the opposite hand’s thumb. Breathe in as you trace your pointer finger to the tip of the thumb, pause, exhale as you trace down the thumb to the webbing between the thumb and first finger. Pause again. Breathe in as you trace up the first finger, pause, exhale and you trace down, pause. And continue through this hand and maybe continue by switching hands!
Benefits: Intentional breathing allows for the mind to anchor, or focus, on one thing: the breath. This focus and awareness of the breath brings calm and peace within the mind and body. A perfect way to start any activity!
– cat & cow –
Setting up: Come to your hands and knees. As you breathe in, lift the chest and puff it forward, let the belly drop towards the ground, and tilt the bottom up towards the ceiling. As you breathe out, bring the chest towards the front of the hips and lift the middle back up towards the ceiling. Continue this arcing movement slowly, timing the movement with your breath. Take these poses as many times as you’d like.
Benefits: These poses warm up the spine, strengthen the core muscles, massage the internal organs, and stimulate the heart and lungs allowing for fuller breath to move through the body. These poses also cultivate emotional balance as well as encourage breath and movement coordination, a tenet of vinyasa yoga.
– tree –
Setting up: Come to standing evenly in both feet. Gently lift one foot up to the inner ankle, inner calf, or inner thigh of the opposite leg. Check in that the lifted knee is gradually reaching to the side, rather than forward. With hands at head center, take a few big belly breaths to settle into the pose.
Variation: If you feel stable and strong, you can widen your arms and slowly sway side to side, like a tree blowing in the wind. While blowing in the wind, let your breath be slow and steady and your standing leg be strong and slightly bent.
Benefits: Works on core strength and balance, bilateral coordination, focus and attention, and builds self-confidence. This pose is the embodiment of finding strength and flexibility in challenging moments. In addition, this pose can help to reduce flat feet.
– crescent moon –
Setting up: Come to standing evenly in both feet. Reach the arms up, letting the palms touch above your head. Lengthen the spine up towards the ceiling and slowly lean over to the right side, be gentle with your body. Let the shoulders release away from the ears and press the hips slightly to the left. Take big breaths and feel the left side of your belly stretching. After several breaths, slowly reach back up to center, lengthen the spine up towards the ceiling and switch sides.
Benefits: Improves balance, circulation, spine flexibility, kidney function, and encourages the child to focus on their physical limits.
– turtle pose –
Setting up: Sitting on your heels with your toes touching, widen your knees apart slightly, and rest your belly and chest on your legs. Reach your arms forward and let your forehead rest on the mat. First let yourself find calm here as you take several big belly breaths.
Benefits: Stretches the spine, releases back tension, increases circulation, calms the mind, and encourages deep breathing. This pose eases anxiety as the child brings focus to their breath.
– savasana –
Setting up: Lay all the way on your back, let your feet come wider than the hips and the toes relax. Backs of the legs are pressing into the mat and the low back is slightly lifted away from the mat. Arms are down by your sides and the shoulder blades are flat into the mat. If you have low back pain/discomfort, you can take a rolled up blankets or pillows under the backs of the knees
Benefits: Promotes deep sleep and deep breathing patterns. Lowers blood pressure, calms the brains, and relieves stress.
I hope you are able to try these poses with your children. Feel free to comment below with your experiences, questions, etc. I’d love to hear from you!
With love of deep breaths,