Practices for Better Mind-Body Balance
Jennifer Cohen Harper, MA, E-RYT, RCYT
Yoga and mindfulness practices can be powerful tools to help children build strength, manage their emotions, become more flexible (physically and mentally!), and gain mind-body balance. With our young clients, students and our own children headed back to school, you may be in need of some fun and simple strategies to deal with the stress and anxiety that can accompany this transition.
One of my favorite activities is Tree Pose Exploration. Use these step-by-step directions for Tree Pose Exploration to help a child connect to their body and mind.
- Begin standing in Mountain Pose. Find a place to rest your gaze that is straight out in front of you. Keep staring at that spot to help you balance. Slowly lift your right foot up off of the ground. Bend your knee and turn it out to the side, so that you can place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left calf. You can also lift your foot to the inside of your thigh, but make sure not to place it on the side of your knee.
- Try to relax the foot of your standing leg. Notice if you are curling up your toes, and if so wiggle them a little bit. Imagine your standing leg growing roots deep into the ground to hold you steady. Press your foot into your leg, and your leg back into your foot. Lift your arms overhead like branches reaching for the sun.
- When you are ready to switch sides, turn your right knee to the front, pause, and then slowly lower it down. Then practice tree pose with your left leg.
- Now practice tree pose again, but this time, try an experiment. While you’re holding the pose, look up, then right, then left, then down…move your eyes quickly and notice what happens in your body. Now try looking at something that is moving, such as leaves blowing on trees, cars going by, or anything else that has a bit of movement to it. How do you feel? Finally try closing your eyes, and see what happens to your balance.