Greetings First Presbyterian Parents!
My name is Leah Roberts and I’ve had the pleasure of instructing your children’s yoga practice this year. As the school year closes, I’d like to provide you some information about the yoga we did this year and some ways you can encourage their practice this summer and beyond.
Yoga is a great tool that allows children (and adults) an opportunity to practice techniques that can assist in concentration and regulation of emotions. By using controlled breathing, physical postures, and movements, even very young children can practice control over some aspects of their nervous systems.
Breathing in specific ways has the ability to stimulate the different sides of our autonomic nervous system. A sharp quick breath through the mouth mimics the same response we have when startled or in danger. This can elevate our fight or flight response. On the other hand, steady breaths in and out of our noses can stimulate our rest and relaxation response.
We know that breathing through emotional or physical distress can provide clarity and comfort. Even without knowledge of yoga techniques, most parents, at some point, coach their children to “take a deep breath” and “calm down” when they are anxious, scared, angry, or in a tantrum. Most of us have at some point noticed the calmness and clarity that can come from taking that deep breath. On the flip side, most of us can also recall a time someone was asking us to do these things in a moment of intense stress and having difficulty making ourselves do what seems so simple when we are the asker.
Download the four-page guide for the complete list of exercises and postures.
The truth is that while taking a deep breath couldn’t sound simpler, it is a skill that most children (and adults) are able do better in moments of emotional stress and intense anxiety when they have practiced it many times previously. The purpose of physical yoga is to do just that: we quite literally practice balancing and moving while consciously breathing in a manner that makes us feel strong, controlled, and safe.
My goal is to make practice with your children both fun and beneficial. Many take to yoga breathing very quickly, but just like adults, most struggle. Being myself the type that struggles, I can confidently say that those who struggle are often the ones that see the greatest benefit down the road. Attached are some breathing exercises and postures your children know. Ask them to teach you! Make sure to ask how they breathe while doing it, because that’s when the yoga happens!