With the holidays and school breaks, children can get pretty hyped up. Parties and extra sweets, the excitement of holiday rituals like those around Hanukkah and Christmas, getting less or troubled sleep, and worrying about getting homework done over the break can result in depleted and cranky kids (and unhappy parents and caregivers). During unpredictable, unstructured periods like these, the calming effects of Yoga Nidra may be just what your child needs.
Yoga Nidra (also known as yogic sleep and sleep guided meditation) is a great way to help kids stay grounded and reduce anxiety. It relaxes the body and calms the mind. You may have thought that meditation was only for adults, but it's not. As with adults, Yoga Nidra has been shown to reduce anxiety in children, and can even calm kids with ADHD. All kids have to do is lie down in a quiet, dimly lit room (either on a bed or a yoga mat), close their eyes, and listen. You can easily download free Yoga Nidra sessions on YouTube and other websites.
Yoga Nidra is a simple practice that guides you through several stages — initial relaxation, creating an intention, rotating consciousness (where the practitioner guides one's awareness to different parts of the body), and natural breath awareness. Sessions end with a gentle "awakening," and a bit of movement. One of my former yoga teachers, John Vosler, has a very good Yoga Nidra video for children ages 7 to 12 on YouTube. It's called "I Am Yoga Nidra Meditation."
More strategies to help kids stay calm and centered are:
· Minimize sugar three hours before bedtime.
· Maintain your child's sleep routine as much as possible.
· Include relaxing, quiet activities as part of their day. Reading a book or listening to soft music are nice cushions to fall back on.
Yoga Nidra is also recommended for adults. Look for 20- to 40-minute Yoga Nidra sessions. Two 20-minute sessions or one 40-minute session equates to three hours of rest! You actually go through three of the five phases of sleep when you listen to a sleep guided mediation Practicing daily triggers your body to sleep better overall.
My family and I love this season, but we all know it can get hectic and leave us a little stressed. Yoga Nidra has been really useful for reducing stress in myself, my husband and our two boys. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you, too. Happy holidays!