We hear all the time how yoga improves strength, makes it easier to meditate and helps lower your stress levels, but what about children who are living with anxiety? Can yoga help them learn to live with or even help handle their symptoms? The general consensus is yes. Here are seven easy yoga poses to help kids cope.
Balasana or Child’s Pose
Child’s pose or balasana is a common rest position in yoga. You’ll often find yogis starting and ending their flow with this comfortable fold that helps you release any tensions or anxiety that you’re holding in your neck, back or shoulders. The nice thing about a child’s pose is that kids can stay in this pose for as long as they need it. Pressing their third-eye — their forehead — to the mat triggers a calming and soothing effect in the brain.
Viparita Karani or Legs up the Wall Pose
Legs up the wall is one of our favorite poses. It’s helpful if your child suffers from lower back pain, stretching out their lumbar area with a passive, relaxing pose. This semi-supine position puts you at close to a 90-degree angle, bent at the hips with your legs stretched up a wall. Keeping your kid’s legs elevated like this helps to lower their heart rate, triggering a relaxation response that helps manage anxiety symptoms.
Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold
All kids have to bend over and touch their toes in gym class. That means they’re already familiar with a yoga pose — the standing forward fold. You bend at the hips and press your torso to the tops of your thighs. Your child’s head hangs, and their arms can either hang with it, or they can choose a hand position to make the pose more their own. This inversion relieves tension, calms the mind and reduces the symptoms of anxiety.
Baddha Konasana or Butterfly Pose
Butterfly pose is another simple pose that helps to stretch your hips and leg muscles, and can also help to relieve symptoms of anxiety. It’s simple — have your child sit with the bottoms of their feet pressed together. Then, pull both feet as close as they can to their body. Take it slow, and while sitting in this stretch, have your kids focus on their breathing — inhaling and exhaling as they get control of their anxiety. An anxiety attack often feels like you’re losing control, not getting enough air or even that you might pass out. Taking deep breaths in a butterfly pose, and focusing on the air as it moves in and out of the lungs, can help break that cycle.
Sirsasana or Headstand
As adults, standing on our heads is something we tend to try to avoid. After all, who relishes the thought of possibly tipping over? This is a great pose for kids, though, because unlike grownups, they aren’t afraid of falling down. They’ll just start over and try again. Headstands help to relieve stress because they’re known as cooling postures — they make you pay attention to your inner self and don’t leave any room for things like anxiety and fear.
Garudasana or Eagle Pose
Balance poses like eagle and tree are fantastic for dealing with anxiety because all your focus is on keeping yourself upright and on maintaining calm and even breathing. Twisting your legs and arms up in knots serves to help your mind unwind. Just remind your kids that when they’re starting out with these balance poses, there is one phrase to live by — embrace the wobble. They will wobble, drop their feet or even fall down. All these things are part of learning how to practice these balance poses.
Savasana or Corpse Pose
Savasana, also known as corpse pose, is probably everyone’s favorite. Your child has spent the last half-hour stretching herself into different shapes, and now it’s time to rest and relax. Corpse pose is simple — just have your child lie on the mat and focus on his breathing. This brief meditation at the end of a session can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Your kids won’t have the chance to be worried about their fears because they’ll be exhausted from the previous asanas.
Yoga Can Calm the Nerves
If you’ve got a little one in your life who’s struggling with anxiety, consider incorporating some of these asanas into their yoga flow. You might be surprised how much something as simple as a child’s pose or savasana can help them deal with the symptoms and fears that might be overwhelming them in other aspects of their lives. Even something as simple as putting their legs up the wall while they’re playing a video game or watching television can make a difference in their lives.