Back-to-School Breathing

Heading back to school can bring up a whole bunch of emotions for children - excitement, anticipation, and sometimes, anxiety.  If your child is feeling some back-to-school jitters, here are two simple breathing techniques that can help your child to feel a little more calm and peaceful:

1. Air conditioner breath (sitali breath) - lots of kids love curling their tongues, so if that is a favorite activity for your child, have them curl their tongue as they imagine sucking in through a straw (there will be a little sucking noise while they're doing this) and then breathe out slowly through their nose.  Tell them to feel the cool air on their tongue as they breathe in (that's why I call it "air-conditioner breath").  Breathing in this way slows down the breath, which promotes a relaxation response in the body, it also produces a cooling sensation which can be helpful as kids can often feel warm or flushed when they're feeling nervous.

2. Starfish breath - have your child stretch out their arm in front of them and spread their fingers like the shape of a starfish.  Have them take the pointer finger of their other hand and trace up and down each finger slowly.  Each time they trace up, breathe in, each time they trace down, breathe out.  Instruct your child to do this as slowly as possible. Breathing in this way puts your child's focus on the action of looking at their hand and tracing instead of getting caught up in anxious thoughts and slows down their breath which promotes a relaxation response.



Both of these breathing practices can be done at home, school, or any time your child needs to feel a little more calm and peaceful inside.   These and other breathing exercises are taught in our before and after-school yoga classes for kids!

How To Make Your Own Yoga Jenga Game

A few weeks ago, one of my private clients was stacking her yoga blocks during our session and mentioned that it felt like she was playing Jenga. I'm always thinking about new activities to do in my classes with children, and her comment got me thinking...what if I created a Jenga game that included names of yoga poses, so every time someone pulls out a piece, we do the pose?

So, I bought a new Jenga game, wrote down a bunch of pose names and some special breathing practices on each of the pieces, and voila - Yoga Jenga was born!



This is a great way of spending time together playing games as a family, and practicing yoga together, too!

I can't wait to play this game with all of my yoga students in class this fall!

Want to make your own game?  Here are some pose and breathing ideas to get you started!  Feel free to add in your favorites, too!

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Andrea Creel 

Andrea is the founder of Shining Kids Yoga, which began as an after-school program at her son's elementary school in 2014. She has been teaching yoga to all ages since 2005.  Andrea completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training & prenatal yoga training at Tranquil Space Yoga in Washington, D.C. In addition, she received specialized training in children’s yoga from the Radiant Child Yoga program, training in postnatal yoga from Baby OM,  and training in therapeutic yoga from  The Samarya Center.

Andrea is also a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) through the State of Maryland, having received her MSW degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore.

She has taught yoga for children at yoga studios throughout the DC area, including Tranquil Space, Budding Yogis, Rock Creek Yoga and Warrior One Yoga. She also teaches classes for adults at Yoga Bliss Studios and Extend Yoga, where she is on the yoga teacher training faculty.  

When not teaching or practicing yoga, Andrea enjoys playing board games with her son, Quinn, singing karaoke, and trying out new vegetarian recipes!

Practicing yoga with your kids

As a yoga teacher, I get pretty happy when I get to do yoga with my son, Quinn.  We laugh, fall down, and help each other stretch and open our bodies.  It's a chance for us to connect and be present and let go of the busyness that can often envelope our day-to-day lives. I know the days when he will want to do yoga with me (or do anything with me) are limited, and so I savor each double down dog and lizard on a rock pose we do together. 

I love being able to bring yoga to other families, too.  To show them new ways to connect with each other through poses, games, and relaxation.

This summer, I'll be offering 3 Family Yoga Workshops for children ages 5-11 and their parents. If you'd like to join me, you can sign up your family for one, two, or three classes (discounts available when you sign up for multiple classes!).  I look forward to seeing you and your family on the mat.

~ Andrea


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