Kids Yoga Poses for Improved Focus

Posted on by Allyson

Kids in Portland who participate in yoga classes often gain a powerful tool for learning: improved focus. At a very basic level, yoga is about learning how to harness your own mind. Ancient yogis related the human mind to a group of wild horses, harnessed together but desperately trying to run in opposite directions. However, through concentrated, consistent practice of certain breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation techniques, yogis taught their students how to get that pack of wild horses to work as a team. From Oahu to Oregon, yoga is increasingly taught in schools because it helps students focus on schoolwork.

If you work with or have kids in Portland, check out the following yoga poses for improving focus. These exercises are a great way to regain group focus during class and in after school activities.

To “Reset” Attention and Gain New Perspective…
…Try dolphin pose. Dolphin pose looks like downward facing dog, except that it’s done on your forearms. The energy should go into rooting the legs and forearms down into the earth while gently lengthening the spine. Not only will this pose help kids in Portland release a little energy, but because dolphin is an inversion pose (meaning that the heart is higher than the head), it will also invigorate students with focused energy.

To Enliven and Energize Sleepy Kids…
In Portland, gray skies can make it tough for kids to stay alert and awake. And sitting in desks all day at school certainly doesn’t help. When kids need to wake up, have them practice locust pose. This back strengthening pose is performed on the belly. Ask kids to straighten out their arms and legs, and then lift their hearts and legs. Try lifting just the heart first, then just the legs, then both. To wake up both hemispheres of the brain, ask kids to lift opposite arm and leg at the same time.

To Nurture and Calm Big Emotions…
…Have your kids come into child’s pose or infant pose. Also known as “rock pose” and “balasana” to Oregon yoga teachers, child’s pose is a very restful, calming posture. To enter into child’s pose, one kneels on the shins, and then folds forward, bringing the hips back onto the heels. In child’s pose, the knees are apart, toes together, and hands reaching forward to lengthen the spine. In infant posture, the arms are by the sides while the knees are together.

Both poses can help an upset child feel better—which, as neurologists such as Daniel Siegel are increasingly teaching, is the first thing to do in order to achieve improved focus. In The Whole-Brain Child, Siegel and co-author Tina Payne Bryson explain that the part of the brain responsible for making good decisions effectively “goes offline” when big emotions are running rampant. Therefore, very upset children should be comforted first—they (like all humans) are effectively incapable of making logical choices during extreme emotional moments, so the first step toward focus is calming them down. Child’s pose and infant pose are very calming, especially when Mom or Dad soothingly rubs one’s back.

Another tip for calming down a kids in Portland and everywhere else: Have them count their breaths, and lengthen the exhale breaths. You can help them understand by counting out loud while they focus on breathing. So, if you count “Breathe in for 1, 2, 3,” you might say, “Breathe out for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” Longer exhales send the brain the message that everything is safe.

Photos: sew liberated

 

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Yoga For Kids in Portland, Oregon