Is your favorite time of day bedtime with your kids?? You know, reading while snuggling, tucking them in with a kiss, closing the door and they easily go into dreamland?
Yeah, not mine either. It doesn’t work that way, does it?
After the fifth time of asking them to stay in their bed, or stating “stop taking your brother’s favorite snuggle buddy”, “PLEASE STOP CLIMBING INTO YOUR SISTER’S BED AND TERRORIZING HER”, “No, you already had 3 glasses of water”, “That’s fantastic that you are in such a great mood, but this is NOT the time to be cracking jokes and giggling until 10pm”….you might get a little frustrated. Besides all of that silliness that goes on, I am sure that many of you have noticed that in general it is difficult for children (not to mention yourself) to shift from the busy schedule of everyday, and the overstimulation of technology, into a calm state at bedtime. Having a routine of maybe taking a bath, brushing teeth, and reading is a great start, but many children need a little bit more to calm their nervous systems and minds and to shift into that restful state. Yoga and visualizations are a wonderful way to help them with that transition.
Every night after our usual routine and reading together, we do a slow calming yoga flow with our children that is easy enough for young children and engaging enough for older children and adults. Connecting their breath to flowing movement and grounding yoga poses calms our children’s nervous systems and switches the body into that calmer state. Holding a few of the poses (plank pose and downward dog) for a few breaths gives them the grounding and proprioceptive stimulation that they need to help their bodies relax. I then end with a simple back and arm massage and putting gentle but firm pressure on their feet and hands (once again grounding them, helping them to feel stable and secure). That may sound like a lot, but as you can see in the video below, this really only takes a few minutes each night and it makes a world of difference for our kids.
We finish by listening to guided relaxation recordings made for kids (see suggestions below) or visualizations I have recorded for them—so that I can step out of the room as they drift off to sleep—or even audio books. Guided imagery or visualizations allow your child to listen to vividly detailed stories that they can then imagine in their minds, like making a movie in their head. This comes easily to children who are naturally imaginative. These guided visualizations, like yoga, bring awareness to the mind-body connection. By relaxing into a vivid story, children gain tools to deal with stress, pain, or other feelings that can cause sleeplessness. Many guided visualizations/relaxations also assist children in relaxing each muscle in their body.
If you have found that your children can use a little extra guidance to reach a calmer state to easily drift off to sleep, give this yoga flow and/or some guided visualizations a try this week, and let me know what kind of a difference it makes for your family. I would love to hear from you!
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