Children inspired by yoga
A mindfulness activity for children
Today we are sharing a mindfulness activity for children with you. Mindfulness has been shown to be successful in helping adults and children cope with stress and anxiety.
Being mindful can improve concentration both in the workplace and in the classroom:
“Well conducted mindfulness interventions can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people who take part. It has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, reactivity and bad behaviour, improve sleep and self-esteem, and bring about greater calmness, relaxation, the ability to manage behaviour and emotions, self-awareness and empathy.
Mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function. It can help young people pay greater attention, be more focused, think in more innovative ways, use existing knowledge more effectively, improve working memory, and enhance planning, problem solving, and reasoning skills.”
Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People Katherine Weare (Emeritus Professor, Universities of Exeter and Southampton)
What is Mindfulness?
The Mental Health Foundation defines mindfulness as: “an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people to manage their thoughts and feelings and mental health… Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga.”
For example, have you ever gone for a walk, breathing in the crisp, fresh air and then suddenly realised a few hours have passed? Have you ever listened so intently to a song that for a moment, you weren’t thinking about anything but how beautiful the melody was? That’s mindfulness!
A mindfulness activity for children: how to do volcano pose
Firstly, find a non-slip mat or carpeted area where you can both do the pose. Make sure you both have enough room around you to avoid bumps and knocks.
Take off your socks and shoes. With bare feet, you will be unlikely to slip and will be able to do the pose more accurately. This is because we rely on sensory information passed up through the soles of feet to help us balance.
Start volcano pose both curled up on your mats or the carpet, with your heads facing each other and tucked under your hands. Imagine that you are both sleeping volcanoes.
To make the pose more mindful, encourage your child to think about their breathing and how their body is feeling whilst they are curled up and still. “Does your body feel ‘small’, ‘cosy’, ‘squeezed’ or ‘warm’?”
Then 1, 2, 3, whoosh! The volcanoes erupt! Guide your child to breathe out, and make a whooshing noise whilst they come up onto their knees and spread their arms out wide to either side.
In this active position encourage your child to think about how their breath and body feels. “Can you feel where your fingers are? Can you take big, deep breaths?”
Then the volcano quietens. Encourage your child to curl up to be a sleeping volcano again. Once again guide your child to think about how their body feels in this curled position. “Does it feel quieter, softer?”
Repeat volcano pose a few times with your child. “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” – Zig Ziglar
A more challenging volcano pose
If your child is older, they may want to try being sleeping and erupting volcanoes with their eyes closed, doing the pose slowly and all the time thinking where their arms and fingers are. Do make sure they have space around them before they do this though!
The benefits of volcano pose
Strengthens leg, arm & tummy muscles
Helps to progress balance skills As your child moves quickly up to kneeling or standing they will be refining their mature balance reactions. These reactions are important not only for sporting activities like football or dance but also for sitting in a good position to write.
Lets off steam! The explosive movement of volcano pose allows your child to express their emotions. Hence this activity will make a great ‘movement break’ if your child is getting frustrated with a complex task or problem. Be careful though do not do the pose too many times as then your child may find it hard to calm down! If this does happen, give mouse pose a try.
And of course, allows us to be more mindful… …of our feelings and emotions, our senses, our surroundings & our bodies.
Making mindfulness more multi-sensory, educational & fun
Before trying this mindfulness activity for children, you might want to watch this short video together, to explain mindfulness to children with a simple analogy. While concentrating on your breath before ‘erupting’, imagine what sights, sounds and smells you might experience in a tropical rainforest, while a nearby volcano rumbles…
If your child is younger, they might enjoy doing volcano pose with ribbons in each hand – they will then be able to see how their arms are moving. Of course, if you are using ribbons please supervise your child closely.
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