Feelings & Yoga for National Mental Health Awareness Week

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We are nearing the end of National Mental Health Awareness Week.

Here in Scotland, we are still in ‘lock down’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are shut, we have been told to stay at home, and not see anyone outside our immediate family.

That is HARD for me to deal with, as an adult. I imagine you are finding it hard to. If it is hard for us, imagine how it must feel for our children. Ugh.

It’s also been the first week back for my kids yoga block (I’ve taken it online) – I’ve got some children continuing on, I’ve got some new ones joining the block. I’m using this class as an easy way in to my version of yoga – which is all about moving your body in a way that feels good for you.

So, we are talking about feelings. Emotional literacy is key to helping your child deal with difficult feelings. If they can name them, they can talk about how they feel. This helps with both their mental health, and their day to day behaviour. If they can talk about how they feel, they are less likely to MELT DOWN when big unnameable feelings well up.

Enter my secret weapon for the class – a picture book called ‘The Colour Monster’, by Anna Llenas*. This book is a great introduction to talking about feelings – giving them colours. It can prompt a discussion about how these colours, or feelings make you feel in your body. The artwork is charming, and my own four year old LOVES reading it with me!

I’ll include my basic class plan for the book below –

The Colour Monster – a great story for discussing feelings, in and out of the yoga class.

Feelings Yoga Class – The Colour Monster (Online class edition)

WELCOME –

Say hello & introduce icebreaker – How has your week been? (use Fist to Five (clenched fist being zero, all fingers up being five) – great for kids that don’t want to speak at start of class) & What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

GROUNDING –

Vocalisation – imagine holding your favourite ice cream, breath in and as you breathe out, say the word YUUUUUUUUMMMMM – make it last as long as you can! Do it three times!

WARM UP –

Sun salutations. Go through simple sun salutations with the class – introducing sequence easily for beginners, and giving regular attendees a warm up they can feel good about knowing – instilling confidence.

INTRODUCE CLASS CONCEPT –

Talk about feelings – Read ‘The Colour Monster’ by Anna Llinas. At the end, introduce the idea of expressing feelings with our bodies as well as colours.

POSES –

Go through the feelings. Offer and demonstrate suggestions on some yoga poses they could try for the different feelings. Get them to try the suggestions, and also use their imagination by thinking about the emotions, and how it made them want to act. Explain it can be a pose they know, or one they make up – there is no wrong pose, their body knows the right one for them.

(suggested prompts)

Happiness – Star Pose (Utthita Tadasana) – or dancing around – personally, I feel happiness includes MOVEMENT!

Sadness – child’s pose (Balasana)

Anger – goddess pose (Utkata Konasana)

Fear – cat pose (Marjariasana)

Calm -tree pose (Vriksasana) / or Easy Pose (Sukhasana) using anjali mudra (prayer hands)

Reread the story, getting the children to act out the poses.

GAME –

In person, I would use different coloured pom poms or scarfs & get the children to sort them into the feelings. Online, this wasn’t logistically possible – so I introduced a yoga scavenger hunt – I choose two of the colours, and asked the children to find an object that was each colour. If time had allowed, I could have gone through all the colours – but choosing just two allowed me to set a challenge for the week – asking them to create a mindful picture with all the feelings colours.

Get the children to show their finds to everyone

SETTLE FOR RELAXATION –

(For the relaxation, I had planned on reading one a guided imagery exercise from the Relax Kids book ‘The Wishing Star’* I often use – but I had forgotten to bring it into the room I was recording in – so instead, I told my own one – based on a similar concept – finding a room they can go to to feel safe, and that the room can change colours, depending on how they felt – so that whenever they had big feelings, they knew they always had a special place in their mind they could go to to sit and breathe with the feelings. )

After the relaxation, let children share what came up for them.

CLASS END –

Speak about importance of discussing feelings.

As always – end class with reminder to think kind thoughts, speak kind words, and do kind things. From anjali mudra, push hands together and whoosh the kindness out into world.


If you are a kids yoga teacher – please feel free to use the plan, and adapt it to your needs – let me know any additions you make, or how it goes for you!

If you are a parent reading this, why not try some embodied poses with your child at home?

* Affiliate links – I earn commission if you buy the product after using these links, at no extra cost to you.

Taking yoga to my sick bed

My sister in law – who is a midwife – once said that in training her lecturer described toddlers as ‘disease vectors’.

I’ve had to cancel classes this week, as I’ve been struck down with the sickness bug that had my own three year old disease vector vomit once in the night with, then proclaim himself fine the next day, when I had already placed us under quarantine (as a baby class teacher, I take these things pretty seriously. Vomiting bugs can floor anyone -but a new mama or her baby – that’s bad news!)

Anyway, fast forward to nearly the end of those 48 hours… And I was feeling very sorry for myself, as I proceeded to do my best impression of that girl from The Exorcist.

This led to me cancelling all of my yoga classes (sorry Mummies, babies and tots!), and a new 48 hr period of being a hermit, avoiding contact for fear of spreading my plague…

Every cloud has a silver lining…

I am pleased to note that the more you do yoga, the more you end up relying on it when you are in need. I’m almost out of my (second) 48hr quarantine. The main symptoms remaining are an all over body soreness (like I’ve been hit by a truck) and a mental fog. What have I been doing? Well, reminding myself that this too shall pass (mindfulness). I’ve also been doing some bed yoga! (yes, seriously!)

Just a couple of poses, not traditionally or anything like that – but following  the basics of the stretches – and it’s been great for my stiff, sore body. Cat/cow has been my absolute lifesaver!

It’s really not about hours and hours of yoga practice in. It’s about doing a little of what is right for you, at that moment, every day. There will be times in your life when you can devote hours to it. There will be times when 5 minutes seems like a luxury. Use them wisely.

That’s a big  part of what I hope to impart in my parent and child classes – take what works, and take that practice home! 

If all this talk of bed yoga has you intrigued – take a look at this short video from Finlay, the Kilted Yogi, and enjoy!

Connect & Grow Together With Yoga

Connect & Grow Together With Yoga

(and Child’s Pose Yoga)

 

Pink cupcake with candle shaped like a number 1.
                      Happy Business Birthday!

It has officially been a year since my little business started (HOORAY!) – so I thought I’d do a wee blog post on my ‘Why’.

If you were to ask me to boil it down to one word, it would be CONNECTION. Baby yoga, toddler yoga, kids and family yoga, my new Women’s Circles – all of it is about the connection.

Before Yoga

I used to work for the police. I worked shifts, in a busy control room. Then I became pregnant. I had a bad pregnancy – I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (extremely bad pregnancy sickness) – and was off work for months. Then, after I gave birth to my son, I developed postnatal PTSD, with depression and anxiety. The result of all this ill health was a huge feeling of isolation. There were points when I felt very on my own and unsupported.

Then, I discovered yoga as a way to help heal my body and my mind.

My Next Steps

I left my job with the police. I retrained to be able to teach baby yoga. It started with just that, then my offering grew as I underwent more training. All my classes, all my workshops, everything I do has connection at the heart of it. My journey would have been easier if I’d been supported by a community. I am grateful for all the help I received after realising I COULD ask for help. I hope that by teaching my classes, and getting people to connect, bond and grow together, there will be less chance of others feeling the isolation I did.

Yoga Heals

Photograph of young child sitting on mothers knee, holding a ball. Mother is kissing the child
Bonding during a story yoga session

Mother is seated, leaning over baby lying on ground, looking into baby's eyes. Mother has coloured juggling scarves to play peek a boo with.
Playing peek-a-boo in class

Yoga is a fantastic tool to help with personal wellbeing. It makes perfect sense that we teach this to our children from as early a point as possible. I teach you how to use yoga to bond and connect with your child. It is not all super bendy poses and ‘ommm-ing’ – it is fun and exciting. We play games, we make funny faces and noises. I absolutely love seeing parents and children connect in class – and seeing the families interact with other families.

That is my Why.