by Laurie Jordan
Sleep problems are common among children. In fact, most kids aren’t getting enough sleep at night. In 2004, The National Sleep Foundation conducted the “Sleep in America Poll,” the first nationwide survey on the sleep habits of children and their parents. The results indicated that 69 percent of children, ages 10 and under, are not getting enough sleep.
When children are sleep deprived, they’re likely to have a hard time controlling their emotions. This can lead to problems at home and at school, and can be exhausting for parents. (As if parenting isn’t hard enough, having a child with sleep problems can make your job even more difficult!) According to this same poll, many parents and caregivers lose upwards of 200 hours of sleep a year due to their child’s nighttime awakenings. This is where bedtime yoga for kids can help!
By incorporating yoga into the bedtime routine, kids of all ages will be stretching and twisting and breathing their way into dreamland. The goal of bedtime yoga is to help a child shift his mind’s focus from daily stressors to focusing his attention to yoga postures, relaxation techniques and breath work, with the ultimate goal being a restful sleep.
Yawning Yoga: A Goodnight Book for a Good Night’s Sleep is a bedtime yoga book designed specifically to help kids enjoy a restful sleep. It is kid-tested and mother-approved! Its careful sequencing makes it perfect for bedtime and helps children establish a bedtime routine that is proven to work. Yawning Yoga makes for a better bedtime because the book’s 15 poses are designed to be done in sequence from most “active” to most soothing. These poses help release excess energy, tension and stress while calming the child and helping her move towards stillness.
5 yoga poses to help kids go to sleep:
1. Greet The Moon:
This pose is designed to release extra energy. It’s similar to a Sun Salute, but the child is greeting the moon and reaching for his wishing star. Have your child begin by standing up nice and tall. Have him stretch his arms overhead. Instruct him to fold over his legs in a Forward Fold, then have him come all the the way back up to standing with his arms reaching up. Have him end standing tall, with hands by his side. Repeat three times.
Modified Shoulder Stand is perfect for calming the body and mind and for relieving tired legs. Have child start off by lying on her back and instruct her to extend both legs up towards the ceiling. Make sure her neck is protected and encourage her to keep her eyes on her toes and avoid looking around. Kids can hold this pose for at least give full breaths.
As your child moves closer to sleep, have him hug his knees into his chest and squeeze all the tension out of his body. Encourage him to squeeze every muscle in his body (from his face to his toes!) and then release so the body feels nice and light and relaxed. Do this one time.
4. Spaghetti Test:
Parents wiggle child’s arms and legs to make sure they are nice and relaxed. Hold your child’s feet and wiggle her legs to release any last bit of tension. Then hold your child’s hands and wiggle her arms to encourage releasing any last bit of tension there.
5. Wishing Star:
This is a final meditation exercise designed to prepare the mind for sleep. This exercise clears the mind from stressful thoughts and shifts the mind’s focus to something positive. Simply instruct your child to lie on his back, close his eyes and imagine a star.