Thanks to an inspiring article by Heather Fontenot, co-editor of Rhythm of the Home, recently published in Yoga Living Magazine, the Alluem Kids enjoyed a peaceful Restorative Kids class today. I had never tried Restorative with the kids before. I often wondered how they would take to it. But after reading the Children's Yoga for Healing article - I was convinced they would love it...and they did!
I don't have any children of my own, but I have seen the childrens' schedules of my friends - whoa! Kids are constantly going! From school all day to after school clubs, band, sports, dance, gymnastics, and scout meetings. Not to mention homework, time with family, and social engagements. It's non-stop! No wonder these kids are tired! We also must realize that it's not just the physical exhaustion that kids feel, but also mental. Kids are exposed to so much more then we were as children. There are the stressors of the media and society, peer and family pressures, parents getting divorced, parents losing jobs. These kids are using tons of mental energy.
I tell the children in my class that just like in any other yoga class - listen to your body. If you become tired or need a break, come down to Child's Pose. Take some deep breaths and join us again when you are ready. And they do. As I've been observing my classes, I notice some kids can stick with the instruction the whole way through, while others need more frequent breaks. One would think, Bah! Kids have TONS of energy! But the more I observe and talk to my kids about all the activities they are involved in, the more I realized, these kids need a break!
I asked the kids this weekend how often to they take time to themselves to just relax and be quiet. I got a moment of silence followed by the voice of an 8 yr old, "When we sleep!" And that would be it. I explained to them how giving back to their bodies is so important. Our bodies do so much work that we don't even realize. We need to give back to it by eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising, and resting when we need to rest!
Introducing Restorative Yoga for Kids. My initial hesitation about trying it with them lay with premonition that maybe they would be bored or restless. But when I tell you these kids MELTED on to their bolsters, I mean I thought I would have to peel them off! The Alluem Kids embraced Restorative Yoga with open arms and open hearts. Reclining back, bolster under knees, one hand on the belly, one hand on the heart...they relaxed. Putting focus on the belly, watching the breath rise and fall, I spoke of how important the breath is. How slowing down the breath brings internal focus, calms us down, and really allows us to relax and release. Putting focus on the heart, feeling the heart beat slowly while reclined and relaxed. We watched how our breath can work in direct correlation to the heart rate. When we breath fast and shallow, our heart rate increases which can make us nervous and anxious. Keeping the breath slow and even can do wonders for our bodies and our minds. We even did a 60 second silent and still meditation to relax the mind. I gave them a word to focus on incase their minds started thinking of other things. Their word this day was "Trust". What does trust mean to them and why is it important. Focusing on that word, they were completely still. Their responses:
"Can we keep going?!", "I can sit still even longer then that.", "My leg had an itch, but I ignored it.", "Next week can we meditate for 2 minutes?"...and we will.