March 30, 2011

Bedtime Yoga for Kids.

Photo: John Doe

Sleep problems are very common among children. In fact, most kids aren’t getting enough sleep at night, and when a child becomes sleep deprived, they are likely to have a hard time controlling their emotions. This can lead to potential problems at home and at school, and it can be exhausting for parents.

In 2004, The National Sleep Foundation conducted the “Sleep in America Poll,” the first nationwide survey on the sleep habits of children and their parents. The results showed that 69% of children, ages 10 and under, are not getting enough sleep.

What’s more, children’s poor sleep habits also take a toll on parents/caregivers, some of whom lose upwards of 200 hours of sleep a year due to their child’s nighttime awakenings.

“It is clear from the poll results that we need to focus as much on the sleeping half of children’s lives as we do on the waking half. Children are clearly not getting enough sleep,” says Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, who served as Chair of NSF’s 2004 Poll Task Force.

Photo: Sdminor

By incorporating yoga into the bedtime routine, kids of all ages will be stretching and twistingand breathing their way into dreamland.  The goal of bedtime yoga is to help a child shift his/her minds’ focus from being preoccupied with daily stressors to focusing his/her attention to yoga postures, relaxation techniques and breath work, with the ultimate goal being a restful sleep.

The following sequence has been carefully designed and will help a children establish a bedtime routine that is proven to work:

1. Jiggle and Wiggle: Wiggling your body nice and slow will loosen you up so you’ll sleep through the night.

2. Dog-tired Down Dog: Being a dog is fun to pretend. Get onto all fours and wag your dog tail and wag your dog head before getting in bed!

Photo: Tiffany Assman

3. Bedtime Bug: Being a bug on it’s back is very relaxing. With your feet in your hands, rock side to side.

4. Lemon Squeeze: Squeeze your fingers, your toes, your face and your nose. Squeeze everything nice and tight! Then let everything go so your body feels light.

5. The spaghetti Test: Lying flat on your back, have mommy or daddy wiggle your limbs to make sure they’re nice and floppy.

6. Good Night Little Body: Say good night to your body–one part of your time. Say good night to your toes and work your way up to your nose.

7. Namaste: the perfect way to end the day. With your hands at your heart, say “namaste“.

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Laurie Jordan

Laurie Jordan is the author of YAWNING YOGA: A GOODNIGHT BOOK FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP based on her successful bedtime yoga series, Yawning Yoga and the creator of Little Sprouts Yoga for kids. She has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work and is a certified yoga instructor for children and adults. Find her yoga practice here.

Laurie took her first yoga class when she was 15 but the experience left a nasty taste in her mouth. She was kicked out for laughing at the instructors mantra, “feel the honey golden light in your…unmentionables” Eeww.

Who would have thought that all these years later, that “honey golden” moment would be the one that influences her teaching the most? (Or at the very least, that it serves as a reminder to never say anything as hippy- dippy and dorky as that–and to always, always keep it real.)