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Bedtime Yoga for Kids

I can't fall asleep.

I can't stay asleep.

I wake up feeling tired, even when I slept all night.


I hear these complaints all the time from kids and their parents. Yet sleep is so important: It not only affects our mood the next day, but can lead to longer term mood issues, and health problems. Kids in particular need regular, good-quality sleep. For more information on the importance of good sleep for kids, and the habits that help build it read The 7 Reasons Your Kid Needs Sleep.


General Sleep Hygiene

Here are some general guidelines to create better sleep (also called Sleep Hygiene):

* Stop using any digital devices (any screen that emits a blue light) an hour before sleep

* Lower the lights (your body takes this as a cue that it should relax)

* Do something relaxing before bed (take a hot shower, drink a cup of hot tea, yoga--read on for bedtime practice!)

* Save lively or tough conversation for the next day

* Listen to relaxing music or a visualization (like yoga nidra) once in bed


Bedtime Yoga

Bedtime yoga is calming and effective for kids (and all people, for that matter) because it relaxes the mind. If your child has a tendency to worry, it's especially important to do yoga and relaxation practices that help calm his mind before bed. Bedtime is the time to let that all go. As a parent, you can role model this by doing bedtime yoga with your kiddo. Forward folds and breathing practices that focus on the exhale are two examples of highly effective practices. Below is are two bedtime practices for two different age groups that will help your child and you:


Practice #1: 5 - 12 years old

1) Snake Breath

Sit together on the floor of child's bedroom

Inhale deep

Exhale and hiss like a snake

Repeat 5 - 10 times

Notice


2) Cross Legged Calming

Stay seated on floor

Inhale arms up

Exhale and lower arms outstretched to the floor

Take 5 deep breaths here


3) Lazy River

If possible, slide legs under bed or a chair in child's room

Inhale arms up

Exhale and slide arms out onto bed or chair

Allow head to rest on bedside or folded arms

Take 10 deep breaths here


4) Bedtime Bat (many kids love imagining they're a bat, with legs higher than head)

Crawl lazily into bed

Move pillow away from head of bed

Swivel body to bring legs up the wall at the head of the bed

Only stay as long as this feels comfortable on legs & feet (2-3 minutes when child first begins)

***If you've done yoga before, you many know this pose as Legs Up the Wall (it stimulates the back of the brain, which encourages sleep; it also allows better circulation in the legs once coming down and out of the pose, which is really good for kids who are athletes)***


Practice #2: 13 - 18 years old

1) Gratitude Journal

Write three things you're grateful for in a daily journal


2) Counting Breaths

Sit comfortably on your bedroom floor

Set a timer for 3-5 minutes (or longer if you're familiar with and find this practice calming)

Notice the breath coming in and going out

Inhale, and count how long it is (probably somewhere between 3-8 counts)

Exhale, and let it be the same count

Don't judge the length, just let the inhale and exhale be the same count

Every time the mind wanders, bring it back to the breath


3) Lazy Forward Fold

If possible, slide legs under bed or a chair in your room

Inhale arms up

Exhale and slide arms out onto bed or chair

Allow head to rest on bedside or folded arms

Take 10 deep breaths here


4) Legs Up the Wall

Crawl lazily into bed

Move pillow away from head of bed

Swivel body to bring legs up the wall at the head of the bed

Only stay as long as this feels comfortable on legs & feet (2-3 minutes when you first begin)


5) Yoga Nidra

I love this recording by Robin Carnes--it's the one I listen to get better sleep



You can easily tailor the above practices to your child's individual preferences. Once your child tries some or all of one of these practices, he may decide he likes one or two of the practices best. Encourage him to do the poses/practices he likes best, and drop the rest. Any of these practices can be done on their own. If your child just wants to do 2-3, try to do them in the practice order (for example, a child might decide he likes #1, 2 & 4 best, so have him do the poses in that order).


Have a relaxing night, and let me know how it goes!


Sweet dreams,

Michelle







Michelle@embodiedyouthyoga.com

Tel: 719-362-0512

Denver, CO

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© 2018 by Michelle Fury.