Start with the stressors of school and after school activities, add in the stimulus of video games, television, and mobile devices, and it is no wonder finding calm at the end of the day can be difficult for kids. Encourage an easy transition to dreamland with a relaxing yoga series. Amy Dannheim, yoga instructor and co-founder of Tropical Vinyasa in South Beach, Miami, and mother to one and a half year old, Charlie, walks us through some of her favorite poses to relax, unwind, and set the stage for a peaceful night’s rest. Following this up with Call It A Night herbal supplement and a bedtime story will be a first class ticket to a great night’s rest, for both of you. Bonus: kids of almost any age can do these!
Downward Facing Dog
Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Downward dog both stretches and strengthens and provides balance for mind and body. It activates your hands, arms, shoulders, back, calves, hamstrings and even the arches of your feet.
Step by Step: Starting on hands and knees, push your hands into the mat to lift your hips up in the air - creating an upside down letter V with your body. Let your head drop and your heels move towards the ground, relax your belly and soften the muscles around your neck. Stay for 5 breaths.
How to incorporate your child: Let them try the pose with you or, depending on their age, do it underneath you or even climb on your back! It’s a kid favorite.
Benefits: Child’s pose is a naturally calming position for the nervous system. This pose also stretches the back, a common place to hold tension and a great area to release before bedtime.
Step by Step: From all fours, lower the shins down and shift your hips back to rest over the heels and tops of the feet on the mat. Extend your arms forward with palms facing down and allow your forehead to rest on the mat. Let your chest soften over your legs and relax. Stay here for at least 5 breaths and up to a minute, seeing if you can progressively lengthen your inhale and exhale.
How to incorporate your child: Encourage them to do the pose with you, or they might climb on your back for some extra stretching - a nice added bonus!
Single leg spinal twist
Sanskrit: Supta Matsyendrasana
Benefits: This spinal twist calms the body, stretches the hips and glutes, and releases the lower back.
Step by Step: Lie on your back with legs extended. Draw your right knee into your chest and, using your left hand, slowly drape the right knee across your body over to the left. Extend your right arm out to the right and shift your gaze to the right. Work on releasing your right knee to the mat. Stay here a few breaths, slowly return to center and switch sides.
How to incorporate your child: Have them lay on your belly or next to you if they are very young, otherwise this is an easy one for them to do alongside you.
Legs Up The Wall
Sanskrit: Viparita Karani
Benefits: This passive pose is the ultimate for bedtime prep, especially if you place a small towel or eye pillow over the eyes.
Step by Step: The name of this one says it all – laying on your back with your legs up the wall. This pose is thought to reverse aging as well (score for mom!) and it works for stress relief by reversing gravity on the legs and giving your heart a break from pumping so hard. Lay here for up to 5 minutes with eyes closed.
How to incorporate your child: Help your little one get into this pose before you do it yourself and ask them to move their feet or their toes - stimulating blood flow back down to the heart.
Benefits: Savasana triggers the body’s relaxation response – calming the nervous system and lowering blood pressure, which is why this is the ultimate bedtime de-stressor.
Step by Step: Start by laying flat on your back and extend your arms long by your sides with your hands next to your hips with your palms facing upwards. Widen your feet slightly more than hips width distance and allow your toes to angle outwards. Alternatively, if your lower back bothers you, place a pillow underneath your knees to reduce any pressure. Cover eyes with a small towel or eye pillow. Stay here as long as your little one allows!
How to incorporate your child: Encourage them to lay next to you or on your belly. Let them know it’s quiet time and time to rest their eyes, and keep your expectations realistic!
Mantras are words, phrases, or sounds that can be used before, during, or after yoga practice to keep you and your kids’ mind focused.
Here are three to try:
Om: the universal vibration, connection. Also, easy for kids to say.
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu: may all beings everywhere be happy and free
Aad guray nameh: protection (the white light of protection)
Repeat your mantras and zen out to this playlist during your downward dog.
Don’t let the bed bugs bite!