The character of a monkey is playful and cheeky, and they love to move and swing from branch to branch. We teach our students about the ‘monkey mind’ at times, and we call it this because the mind is like a monkey - busy jumping from thought to thought.
A fun activity that can help to occupy and calm the monkey mind is a ‘double doodling’ exercise. The benefits of this are not only the sheer enjoyment and concentration, but this exercises both sides of the brain as it uses the non dominant hand.
How to do it
We all get a bit grumpy from time to time let’s be honest.
So when our children are feeling angry or upset it is healthy to be able to recognise these emotions, whilst also learning that we can actually diffuse them by becoming aware of them and trying different tools.
A glitter calming jar can do just that. It is both a visual and interactive tool for children to use. You may want to get a plastic jar to make the recipe, then shake it up and offer it to your child to focus their attention on the glitter as it slowly makes it way to settle on the bottom of the jar. I find it's both soothing and calming to my mood too!
What you need and how to do it
The start of the year is a wonderful time to reflect on last year and set clear intentions for the coming year. One intention I always finish my classes with is to wish all beings on our planet - Peace.
I teach my students that peace begins on the inside, and that when we find that feeling we can share it with everyone around us.
When you visit temples in different cultures you can often see colourful flags attached to different parts of the structure that are infused with prayers that are being gently blown out into the world by the wind – with the intention of creating a ripple of peace.
I love the decorative nature of these flags and thought it would be lovely to let children create their own unique version of these too with simple materials.
In the process of creation we are accessing that part of ourselves that inspires a sense of peace and calm at the same time – how perfect!
What you need and how to do it:
We believe that Art itself is a form of mindfulness in action.
Whether it be drawing, painting, or even collage, engaging in art transports us to a place of quiet reflection, personal expression and allows us to be present in the moment to what is happening.
We had fun last term in our YogArt classes making our 3D Mandala mobiles. It is a simple fun activity that you may like to connect and share with your own child or offer to your students.
Paper plates / glue/ scissors / magazines or coloured paper / string / hole punch.
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This week we introduced Mindfulness in our blog and here is a quick reminder of why we are using this wonderful tool.
The benefit of practicing mindfulness is we can learn to pause, take a breath and get in touch with what is needed in the moment.
Children can develop these skills too, helping them to have greater acceptance, and learn to respond rather than react in life.
Here is another simple practice that we have been using in many of our classes ‘Mindfulness of Sound’. It is such a great way to articulate the skill of listening by using the sense of hearing – why not have a go with your child or students!
Mindfulness of Sound
To begin we sit with a tall spine and relaxed shoulders in a comfortable seat. We begin by showing the students the bells we will use to create the sound.
You can use any type of bell for chimes, even a sound bowl or gong, as long as the sound is easy for the children to hear and not too loud.
We explain clearly that the bells will be rung and that when the sound has completely finished and they can no longer hear it then they are to raise their right hand into the air.
You can repeat the same thing and ask them to raise their left hand in the air – and then you can even remain sitting in the quietness that remains.
It is lots of fun, students enjoy the challenge and definitely improve with practice!
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Mindfulness is cultivating the ability to have present moment awareness. In simple terms this means an openness and friendly willingness to understand what is going on around and inside of you.
Life is busy even for kids now days, and they are finding it increasingly difficult to focus and concentrate. Stress is also on the increase in our children.
The benefit of practicing mindfulness for a child is he/she can learn to pause for a moment, take a breath and get in touch with what they may need/feel in that moment.
Mindfulness helps children develop the skills to accept not all things in life are great, or go their way. They learn to respond rather than react, thereby gaining tools to help them navigate their own special inner world, and the world around them.
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Karen Wightman is the founder of Creative Yogis. She is an experienced, local and international children’s yoga instructor, yoga teacher trainer, and children’s art teacher.
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