As a kids’ yoga teacher and a mum, I wanted to share with you some relaxation techniques that I use frequently. You can also practice these exercises throughout the day… when you need it in a moment of panic, anger, or sadness. It takes only 5-10 minutes.
1- Fingertip Massage:
Everyone sits in a circle with their backs to each other and massages the back, shoulders, and arms of his/her friend in front of him/her with his/her fingertips. The slight tickling and laughter during the massage make it even more fun! After the massage, every child turns back to thank the person who massages herself/himself by looking into her/his eyes.
2- Four Breaths with Fingers:
You will breathe in and out while tapping your other four fingers with your thumb. It does not matter whether you begin with your left or right hand. Let’s begin…
With your thumb, touch the top of your pinky finger and breathe in.
Move the same thumb to touch the top of your ring finger and breathe out.
Move the same thumb to touch the top of your middle finger and breathe in.
Finally, move your thumb to touch the top of your index finger and breathe out. Now, you may continue with your other hand.
3- Stay Grounded:
The earth is a magical place. Taking off your shoes and socks and feeling the earth may give you the energy that the ground beneath your feet is supporting you.
By sitting comfortably in the chair and putting your hands on your lap, put your both feet flat on the ground. Let your eyes soften and look forward. Feeling the ground beneath your feet, take a deep breath in. Say to yourself “I feel grounded” while breathing out. You may repeat this exercise as much as you like. Whenever you need some stability, standing or sitting, you can put your feet on the ground and say to yourself “I feel grounded.”
Every spring, I love practicing this exercise with my students in the garden, standing.
(Source: Just Breathe by Mallika Chopra)
4- Breathe into your belly and Repeat a mantra:
Find a comfortable place and lie down. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out. Again, in and out. Put your attention on your stomach. Breathe in and out. Notice how your stomach rises a bit when you breathe in. And when you breathe out, it goes back down. In the meantime, you may have a favorite word in your mind, whose sound makes you feel calm and relaxed such as love, peace, happy, I can, I love, etc. Feel free to make it something personal to you. Repeat your word or phrase. You can say it at a pace that is comfortable for you…
When the time is up, take a deep breath, stop repeating your mantra and open your eyes.
5- The Five Senses:
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is a simple mindfulness exercise to notice what you are experiencing right now through each of your five senses: sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell.
Can you find:
- 5 objects you can see right now?
- 4 objects you can feel or touch right now?
- 3 things you can hear right now?
- 2 things you can smell right now?
- 1 thing you can taste right now?
It is a great way to orientate yourself and to literally come to your senses.
6- Be like Spaghetti:
Before this exercise, I take a pack of uncooked spaghetti and a bowl of cooked spaghetti. Then I give each kid a piece of raw spaghetti and ask them how it feels. Stiff, strong, hard… these are some of the answers they give. Then I give them a piece of cooked spaghetti and let them play with the cooked ones for a while. Then I ask the same question. Flexible, soft… are some of the answers.
Then, I invite them to do the spaghetti exercise together and teach them how to relax their bodies completely:
“This exercise teaches you to relax your body completely. It is important to soften it like a spaghetti. It will help you relax your body. You can do this exercise lying on the floor or on a mat. You will focus entirely on your own body.
Notice that you are lying down. What is getting your attention right now? Maybe you’re noticing your legs or arms. Maybe you feel tired. Or maybe you don’t feel much. This is also quite natural. Now I want you to close your eyes tightly as if you are looking at the sun. Squeeze your eyes, tighten your chin, press your lips together and squeeze all your facial muscles, and now release them all. Let go of all that tension… Your mouth, lips and cheeks are all softening. Your face is soft and comfortable. Can you feel it?
And now with your face softened completely, clench your fists. Feel the tension in your hands. Notice that the muscles in your arms are stronger. Maybe you will also notice that you are holding your breath. When you notice this, let go of your breath and loosen the tension in your arms. Let your hands relax. All the tension is gone.
Now you can turn your attention to your stomach. Now pull it in. Until it is completely flat and firm like wood. When you notice that you are holding your breath, relax your stomach by letting go of your breath. Let your tummy soften. You even notice the slight movement of your breath as it softens.
How are your legs doing? Push your knees towards each other, press firmly. Tighten the muscles in your legs… And leave your toes relaxed now. Let the tension in your legs go. Your legs are soft, your knees are free, your toes are loose. Your whole body is relaxed. Stay where you are, relaxed. Soft like a cooked spaghetti…”
(Source: Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel)