By Jen Rapanos, LMSW, RCYT
Well-Bean programs are lively and purposefully, teaching children yoga and mindfulness in an energetic and experiential way. We believe in the science that suggests that kids learn best through the reflection of doing so we integrate learning tools like books, breathing props and various yoga games into our classes to keep students engaged, having fun and learning through doing. This holiday season, we're sharing some of our FAVORITES with you! Below you'll learn a little about each and why it's made our favorite list and when you click on each title, you'll be linked to a website where it can be purchased!
May this Holiday season be filled with love, laughter and joy for you and your loved ones and may you see the powerful connection we all share with one another!
Bedtime Meditations for Kids
I always suggest guided meditations as a way for children to calm their minds and bodies at bedtime. This cd features captivating bedtime meditations to bring peace, joy and calm to the end of the day. There are three tracks, each approximately 18 minutes in length, you can choose from: by the sea, an adventure in space and snowflake. This beautiful bedtime relaxation cd is the inspiration of Christiane Kerr. As well as practicing and teaching yoga for over 15 years, Christiane is an experienced Montessori teacher. She began relaxation courses for children in 1999 when she founded Calm For Kids.
A chime or Tibetan signing bowl can be used as a physical cue that helps bring us to back to the present moment. We use chimes and bowls in our yoga classes, mindfulness classrooms and in therapy sessions as a cue to remind us to come back to the present moment. When we hear the sound of the chime, we bring our fullest attention to the sound of the bell. It can also be used as a reminder to take a few full breaths and "check in" with ourselves.
Mindful Moments for Kids
One of our favorite musicians, Kira Willey, offers a unique collection of 30 one-minute mindfulness exercises to practice with kids; convenient and easy to use, we incorporate these tracks into our yoga classes and in therapy sessions with younger children! Each track consists of Kira's simple voiceover instructions set to her original songs helping children harness their energy, release anxiety, and develop self-awareness and compassion. The CD also includes two bonus songs (two of our personal favorites) ''Dance for the Sun,'' and a mantra-like lullaby, ''Just Be.'' that we end each class with during savasana!
Good Morning Yoga
Books are a great way to practice yoga with younger children. This “wake up” story is so much more than a story. It’s a practice for kids and parents to greet the morning with joy and embark on their daily adventures with intention and confidence. Turn the page and reach up to the sky, press your feet into the earth, and get ready for a great day!
I Am Peace; A Book of Mindfulness
When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga (a favorite in Well-Bean Yoga & Mindfulness Classes!) Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.
Steps and Stones: An Anh's Anger Story
I use this book in therapy and in my Parent & Child Meditation Workshops to explore how walking meditation can help us calm our mind and body. The book (with beautiful illustrations) shares the story of Anh, the protagonist of Gail Silver’s previous book Anh’s Anger, who is a typical and easy-to-relate-to elementary school-age boy. His anger, personified as a red hairy impulsive creature, teaches him some valuable lessons about not getting carried away by his strong emotions. By counting his steps and coordinating them with his breathing Anh is able to slow down and take his anger for a peaceful and magically transformative walk.
Hoberman Sphere (breathing ball)
Teaching kids about their breath can empower them to use this effective self-regulation skill when they are feeling stressed, anxious, angry or just full of energy. Teaching full and deep breathing the Hoberman Sphere AKA “breathing ball” is always a hit! It’s a great visual to use with kids, teaching them diaphragmatic breathing. By the way, teenagers are fascinated by this cool ball too!
The Buddha Board
Painting on the Buddha Board is not only a calming activity bringing us into the present moment, it a gentle reminder of the impermanence of all things. As the water slowly evaporates and your painting fades leaving a new blank canvas, it reminds us of the constant motion, the coming and going of all things in life. I use the Buddha Board in classes and in therapy as an activity to reinforces that our feelings have movement, they don't last forever, they come and they go.
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)
This sweet little book will easily captivate your attention, providing you with an introduction to mindfulness meditation. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware. The book contains eleven practices that focus on just these scenarios, along with short examples and anecdotes throughout. Included with purchase is an audio CD with guided meditations. This is a wonderful guide for parents; I often recommend it to parents who have children between the ages of 4 and 12, who are looking for strategies to help support their child who is experiencing worry and anxiety. The book is written by Eline Snel, forward is provide by Jon Kabat-Zinn and guided exercises read by Myla Kabat-Zinn.
Stretch your mind and your body. Memory Yoga helps preschoolers improve balance, flexibility and coordination while boosting matching and memory skills. Learn and perform yoga poses as you search for Matching Pose Tiles. With two levels of play, this fun yoga game is a fun family activity or one to use in session to review poses!
Breathe In Breath Out Essential Oil Bend for Kids
We spray a small amount of an essential oil blend of lavender and sweet orange over our students as they lay in savasana at the end of our Little Sprouts classes (ages 6-11). Our students report that this exercise helps with relaxation and they often ask for it! I've also found in my work with teens that they really appreciate when I diffuse essential oils during class...nothing better than breathing in and out a calming scent!
Breathe In Breathe Out is one of the 18 new Ok for Kids blends from Edens Garden expertly formulated by aromatherapist, Sylla Sheppard-Hanger and essential oil chemist, Dr. Robert Pappas, with both safety and aromatherapeutic benefits in mind. Breathe In, Breathe Out is a refreshing blend of Silver Fir, Lavender, Lemon, Frankincense, Sweet Marjoram, Lime, Roman Chamomile, Vetiver, Damiana, Ginger, Spearmint, Vanilla CO2.
Yoga Pretzels: 50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids & Grownups
At Well-Bean we incorporate these beautifully illustrated cards within our classes making fun and engaging yoga games! Forward bends, back bends, partner poses, and balance poses, this is a perfect gift for kids and grownups and a great way to bring yoga into the home! One of my favorite suggestions for families is to create a short yoga flow together by picking 5-8 cards (poses) and practicing together. You might also select 3-4 grounding and calming poses like standing or seated forward fold, child's pose or legs up the wall to create a bedtime yoga routine. The ideas and opportunities to bring yoga into the home are countless!
Jen Rapanos, LMSW, RCYT is a child and adolescent psychotherapist working in private practice. She is the owner of Well-Bean, LLC which is committed to providing services & programs that foster the emotional & mental well-being of youth. Well-Bean offers child & adolescent psychotherapy, yoga & mindfulness classes, wellness workshops and education & training for parents and educators.
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