Four yoga and mindfulness practices to help your children to settle and sleep well. By Dr Kiki Morriss
We all know how important it is for our children to get a good night’s sleep, so their bodies and minds are on top form.
Yoga and mindfulness practices at bedtime are a wonderful way to support your children to sleep well, as they learn to ‘reset’, to let go of whatever has happened during the day and to gently drift into peaceful sleep.
You can make these simple practices an integral part of your child’s bedtime routine. They will act like a lullaby, helping your child to feel safe, to settle down and to sleep well.
1. Where Is The Butterfly? Meditation
This guided meditation is soothing and calming for the nervous system. Read it to your child very slowly and quietly. You can make your voice quieter and quieter, until you are whispering the instructions. The ability to visualise the butterfly and to create mental imagery has been shown to reduce anxiety and build resilience in children.
1. Come into Sleeping Butterfly pose by lying on your back, bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together.
2. Rest your hands on your inner thighs.
3. Close your eyes
4. Imagine a butterfly flying around you. Imagine the colours and patterns of the butterfly’s wings. Now imagine the butterfly softly landing on your right foot, your right leg, your left foot, your left leg, your belly, your chest, your right arm, your right hand, your left arm, your left hand, your nose.
5. Smile and imagine the butterfly flying away.
6. Slowly open your eyes.
Alternatively, you can gently touch different parts of your child’s body, asking, “Where has the butterfly landed?” Ask your child where they can feel the butterfly on their body.
2. Mouse Pose
Mouse pose is a classic position to help induce sleep, particularly if your child is overtired or overwrought. It relieves stress and anxiety, whilst encouraging slow, calm breathing.
Ask your child to imagine they are a quiet mouse, curled up and sleeping safe and sound.
1. Kneel with your legs and feet together.
2. Rest your bottom on your heels.
3. Fold your upper body over your thighs.
4. Rest your forehead on the ground.
5. Rest your arms by the sides of your body with your palms facing up.
6. Close your eyes and count ten slow, gentle breaths, saying ‘in-out-one’, ‘in-out-two’, ‘in-out-three’ and so on up to ten. Say ‘in’ as you breathe in and ‘out’ as you breathe out.
3. Sleeping Tree
Tree pose is usually a standing pose where you balance on one leg. In Sleeping Tree pose we come into the same position, whilst resting on our back.
As your children rest in Sleeping Tree pose, you can chat with them about their day. You can also explain how every night as we fall asleep, we get the opportunity to let go of what’s happened during the day and to ‘reset’.
1. Lie on your back, bend your left knee and place your left foot on the inside of your right thigh.
2. Bring your hands into prayer pose in front of your chest or on the ground above your head.
3. Close your eyes.
4. As you breathe in say the word “Let” and as you breathe out say the word “Go”. Repeat this 5-10 times.
5. As you breathe in, be aware if you are feeling worried about anything. As you breathe out, let go of your worries, whatever they are. If you’re not worried about anything then just enjoy your breath moving in and out.
6. Repeat on the other side.
4. Sleep Mantra
This sleep mantra was written by Thich Nhat Hanh, the world’s most revered master of mindfulness. Repeat it with your child three times every night before saying goodnight to each other.
“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Living in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”
As you share these practices with your children, you are giving them a gift for life, as to sleep well is to live well.