Mindfulness the practice of cultivating awareness and acceptance, free of judgment has always been inherent in the teaching and practice of yoga. In fact, you cannot truly practice yoga without practicing mindfulness. While yoga and meditation practices are usually the first to come to mind when thinking about mindfulness and the idea of being “aware” or “present,” there are, in fact, many ways of cultivating mindfulness. Practicing an instrument, reading a material, painting these are all activities that promote mindfulness.
Being present in the moment is important, but so is how we consider our past experiences and actions. Ultimately, mindfulness allows us to see things as they are, as they are happening, without an emotional response, structured relaxation times, visualization exercises, and activities that foster intentional movement are relevant and engaging for children.
Once children have discovered that place of stillness within themselves and become more connected and present through mindful meditation exercises, they often wish to return to that place again and again. Children really do crave opportunities to be quiet and connect within! Over time and with practice, don’t be surprised to find that your child begins to initiate these activities on his own, without your guidance. And, beyond that, you will both be increasing your ability to “see clearly” in every moment, without judgment or the impulse to “react” emotionally. What a gift!
This is a great activity to help your child understand yoga and mind-fulness, Begin by having your child stand in Tree Pose. Ask him to tell you about what he had for lunch yesterday, where he was, and who he was with, etc., and while he does, play loud music and try to “bother” him by clapping near his ears. Then have him stop and take his pulse, notice what his mind is doing, where his breath is, and what is going on in his body. Then have your child come into Mountain Pose , esta plish a focus point, and take several deep, focused breaths. Encourage him to mindfully come through the sequence of steps to come into Tree Pose on one side and then the other. When finished, discuss with your child the two experiences. Where was his mind the first time? What was going on with his breath? What was happening to him physically? And the second time? Of course, the second experience will be different, and your child will most likely share that he felt more balanced, focused, and calm. Talk with your child about the power of mindful breathing and taking a moment to center and focus and how that related to his ability to practice Tree Pose (yoga is the integration of mind, body, and breath!). How can this lesson be applied to everyday life at home, at school, on the playground? Assist your child to come up with examples using your own stories as examples.