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Parenting is hard enough as it is, and having a child with sleep problems can make your job much more difficult.
A recent study (by Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D of New England Center for Pediatric Psychology) examined the specific effects of bedtime routines on a child’s daytime behavior, and showed that there was a distinct connection between “non-specific bedtimes and bed sharing” with a child’s ability to control his or her emotions. These behaviors, which resembled ADHD-like behaviors and included hitting and kicking tantrums could be the catalyst for potential problems at home and school.
This is where bedtime yoga can help! By incorporating yoga into the bedtime routine, kids of all ages will be stretching and twisting and breathing their way into dreamland. The goal of bedtime yoga is to help a child shift his/her mind's focus from being preoccupied with daily stressors to focusing his/her attention to yoga postures, relaxation techniques and breath work, with the ultimate goal being a restful sleep. Having a consistent nightly routine helps children fall asleep quicker and wake up less often. Sounds like bliss for the whole family!
Encourage your child to try these exercises before going to bed:
• Greet The Moon: This pose is designed to release extra energy. Similar to a sun salute, but the child is greeting the moon and reaching for his wishing star. 1. Child begins by standing up nice and tall. 2. Have him/her stretch their arms over head. 3. Instruct them to fold (bend) over their legs in a forward fold. 4. Have them come all the the way back up to stand with arms reaching up. 5. Stand tall, with hands by their side. Repeat three times.
• Bedtime Bug: Also know as Happy Baby, this pose relieves stress and calms the mind. 1. Child begins lying on his/her back. 2. Grab the outside of each foot with their hands. 3. Open knees as wide as the torso. 4. Draw the knees down towards the armpits. 5. Move slowly from side to side, massaging the lower back. Hold this pose for five breaths.
• Hugs: As a child moves closer to sleep, have him/her hug their knees into their chest and squeeze all the tension out of the body. Encourage them to squeeze every muscle in the body (face and toes!) and then release so the body feels nice and light and relaxed. Do one time.
• Spaghetti Test: Parents wiggle child's arms and legs to make sure they are nice and floppy and relaxed. Parents hold child’s feet and wiggle their legs to release any last bit of tension in their legs. Then, parents hold child’s hands and wiggle their arms to encourage releasing any last bit of tension in their arms.
• Namaste: The final pose before falling asleep. Have child bring his/her hands together over their heart and say, “Namaste. The light in me sees the light in you."
I created, Yawning Yoga, a bedtime yoga book designed specifically to help kids enjoy a restful sleep. Its careful sequencing makes it the appropriate yoga routine for bedtime. This is my contribution to mindful parenting around the globe!