Kids love to roll themselves in a yoga mat or a blanket or hide themselves under a chair when they want to chill out. Often they are feeling overwhelmed by too much noise, talking or just tired after moving from one activity to another throughout the school day. It is fun to go in the school yard at noon or recess but it can be pretty noisy and distracting for a Vata child in particular.
So it is good to encourage kids to take some time out to do a calming activity in order to rest, be quiet and focused. Here is an activity you can lead with your kids or if teaching or looking after kids.
1. Be like a turtle and get into your shell. Close your eyes and imagine bringing yourself inside the shell. Try giving yourself a hug or roll up into an actual ball if this feels better. Some students need a tangible shell space to have a greater sense of safety by putting a blanket over a table and having the child sit under the table. Even with a yoga class, there may be times when a child may want to have a time-out.
2. Inside your shell take three, slow deep breaths just like a turtle who usually breaths only three times a minute.
3. An older child may think of calm ways to return to an activity. Have the child think about possible calm ways to return to the situation that was bothering him/her or to finish an activity.
Turtle Pose (Kurmasana)
Your body imitates the form of a turtle sticking its head and four limbs out, and then pulling its head and limbs back into its shell. It means getting into position slowly.This position opens up the hip, providing good circulation around the area. This position also gives the back a good stretch as well as the groin, lower extremities, upper extremities and shoulders. It also is a good position for your spine and abdomen. It is a very soothing pose for kids to connect with themselves and is soothing and reduces anxiety.
Doing the Pose
Have the children sit on the floor and bring their feet together and then have them put their arms under their lower legs as they bring their head down to touch their chest. They will feel their shoulders, eyes and neck relax. As they are doing the pose, ask them to think about all of the patience they have inside, and how good the energy is inside themselves. In this position they breath slowly like the turtle about 3 times in 30 seconds. Let them know that it is fine to relax here and that their energy is now back inside. Now they can focus and concentrate good.
As you play some relaxing music, have the children move like a slow turtle, with their arms and legs moving like the legs of a turtle. They learn to move very slow and mindfully, really concentrating as they coordinate the movement of their arms and legs. Once the music stops everyone gets into their shells and take three deep breaths. They whisper “I am calm and relaxed and am ready to pay attention.”