Sleep deprivation and stress can be a vicious cycle for both adults and children. We don’t get enough good sleep…contributing to heightened stress the next day…contributing to poor sleep the next night…on and on and on and…
That’s where yoga comes in! Yoga helps lower stress levels, calm the mind, and relieve tension in the body. It is an effective and natural sleep remedy.
Because the statistics I have seen from The National Sleep Foundation report that nearly 70% of children, ages 10 and under, are not getting enough sleep I wanted to share with you a sequence of ten poses to help your child fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. As a mom of two children in that 10 and under category I have experienced first hand how sleep deprivation leads to problems at home and at school. Thankfully, this is the exception in our home!
The poses in this sequence are arranged from most active to most soothing and most of them can be done in bed! As you guide your child through the following series hold, enjoy taking long, slow, deep breaths together as you hold each pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
1: Greet the moon: (Similar to a Stationary Sun Salutation, but the child ‘greets the moon’ and ‘reaches for his/her wishing star’). Begin standing tall. Inhale - raise arms up and overhead, waving at the moon. Exhale - fold forward letting the head hang heavy. Inhale - rise all the way back up, reaching for a wishing star. Exhale - bring hands together and down to heart center, drawing wishing star into the heart. Repeat three times.
2: Standing Forward Fold: Begin standing tall with hands on hips and feet parallel and hip distance apart. Inhale - Lengthen up toward the sky slightly more. Exhale - fold forward and grasp big toes with “peace fingers”. Inhale - Look up half way and lengthen the spine. Exhale - fold forward letting the head hang heavy. Stay in Forward Fold for five long, slow, deep breaths.
3: Seated Criss-Cross Forward Fold: Sitting “criss-cross” on the bed walk hands straight out in front, folding forward, bringing the torso to meet the legs, and letting the forehead rest on the bed. Alternatively stack the arms out beyond the legs and bring the forehead down to rest on the arms. Hold for at least five full breaths.
4: Child Pose: Come onto hands and knees. Sit back on the heels, bringing the big toes together and spreading the knees as wide apart is as comfortable. Bow forward, bringing the torso to rest on or between the thighs. Walk hands straight out in front and keep the arms long with palms facing down or extend the arms down by the sides. Hold for at least five full breaths.
5: Candlestick: Lying on the back extend both legs up towards the ceiling. Look at the toes and take deep breaths through the nose. Rest arms straight out to the sides or bring hands to the belly. Hold for at least five full breaths.
6: Plow: From Candlestick bring the arms down along the sides, with palms pressing down into the bed. Exhale - slowly float straight legs over your head, until your toes are close to the ground behind your head. As with Candlestick keep the eyes gazing toward the sky. Hold for at least five full breaths.
7: Winding Down Twist: Hug knees into chest and then release arms straight out to the sides and bend knees to a 90 degree angle, with lower legs parallel to the bed. Take a deep inhale. Exhale - slowly float bent legs toward the left, perhaps bringing them all the way down to briefly touch the bed. Inhale - draw bent legs back up to center. Exhale - slowly float bent legs toward the right, perhaps bringing them all the way down to briefly touch the bed. Inhale - draw bent legs back up to center. Repeat four more times on each side.
8: Five Pointed Star: Straighten legs out and separate feet to form two points of a star. Keep arms straight out to the sides or bend at the elbows forming cactus arms. Hold for at least five full breaths.
9: Reclined Butterfly: Bring the bottoms of the feet together letting the knees relax out to the sides. Bend arms at the elbows forming cactus arms or bring hands to rest gently on belly, feeling the belly gently rise and fall with each breath. Hold for at least five full breaths.
10: Wishing Star: Extend legs out and separate feet a few inches apart letting the toes relax out to the sides. Extend arms down by the sides with palms facing up. Invite your child to close his/her eyes and imagine a star.
Have a few more minutes to help your child experience a peaceful night of sleep and wake up well-rested and ready for a wonderful day? Hop on over to my post on leading your child through a short series of deep relaxation exercises.
As always, if you have any questions/reflections on the activities found on the Ombrella blog please do not hesitate to connect with me.