Note to Readers: Introducing children to simple self-soothing yoga poses is fun, empowering and helps kids sleep better. One of my favorite for relaxation is Child’s Pose (pictured below). It is incredibly calming and comforting. Children can even be taught to use hand or finger mudras (yoga for the hands) to manage their energy during school or social situations when they feel over-stimulated or angry. Many thanks to Donna for helping parents reduce bedtime stress with yoga.
by Donna Freeman
Bedtime is often one of the most stressful times of the day for families. Kids are bouncing off the walls on their second wind, parents are exhausted, and the clock says it’s past time to be asleep. Yoga can help bring a sense of calm, induce the relaxation response, and ensure a good night sleep for kids and parents alike.
First however, some basics on how to set the scene for a healthy sleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine. We all function better with routines, but children especially appreciate knowing a pattern of behaviors will lead to a specific situation or response. A ‘getting ready for bed’ routine which includes tidying the toys, healthy snack, dental and physical hygiene, changing into pajamas, reading a book with Mom or Dad, etc., will teach them that it is time to slow down mentally and physically, and prepare them for sleep. Some great books which focus on relaxation before bed can be found at Stress Free Kids Relaxation and Stress Management books and CDs for children, teens and adults.
- Avoid sweets and anything with refined sugar as well as caffeine hidden in sodas or chocolate throughout the evening. Some children are especially sensitive to the stimulating nature of sugar and caffeine. Eliminate them well before you want your children to relax.
- Introduce soft lighting and calming music in the home or bedroom. This will help to ease the transition from activity to rest as you physically make the environment serene and peaceful.
Yoga Helps Kids Sleep
There are a variety of poses which calm and relax the body and mind. Here are some of my favorites to use with my own children and at sleep-over parties. (Corpse pose, Turtle Pose, Child’s Pose) Hold each pose for a few breaths, breathing deeply and evenly through your nose.
While in Corpse Pose be sure to use a guided visualization to complete the process of preparing for sleep. One example of this would be a progressive muscle relaxation such as:
Tense and Release
Tighten the muscles in your feet. Really clench them, then let go. Feel your feet relax completely. Now tighten your feet, then your legs. Release and breathe. This time start with the feet, add the legs & buttocks. Squeeze, then let go. Once again, start with the feet, legs, buttocks and torso. Really contract those muscles. Then relax them completely. Now tighten the feet, legs, buttocks, torso, and arms. Squeeze those hands tight. Last time—start with your feet, next legs, buttocks, torso, arms, and face. Tense your entire body, hold it tight, and release. Enjoy the feeling of complete relaxation from head to toe.
The Children’s Relaxation Packages introduces children to yoga breathing and the tense and release method known as progressive muscle relaxation. The techniques are woven into these enchanting stories.