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Using yoga to help kids sleep

by Sesame Lane Admin on 27/03/2019 10:51:47 AM

One of the frustrating things about sleep is that you can’t force it. You can get into your pjs, read a book, switch the lights off and make everything quiet. Your eyes can be heavy and your body tired.
Then nothing.
The barriers for sleep are the same for adults as well as children.

  • An overactive mind that churns over things that happened during the day.
  • Activated sympathetic nervous system responsible for our fight/flight mechanisms. When activated this doesn’t allow for the rest and digest functions to occur.
  • Uncomfortable physical body.
  • Unsettled emotions lingering from the day or upcoming events. 

What we can do is create cues for sleep; repetitive prompts to tell the physical body and the nervous system that it’s now time to sleep.
Think of sleep like exercise.  
When exercising, we start slowly with a warm-up, preparing all the muscles and joints for what is about to happen. This takes us up to the peak of the exercise before gradually slowing to a cool-down phase. To avoid injury, to enhance performance and power, we don’t go directly from nil to peak.
Sleep works in the same way. We don’t transition from completely awake directly to deep sleep. We gradually slow the body and mind, to then eventually arrive at deep sleep.
Yoga offers another perspective. 
Interestingly yoga has the view that your day begins, not in the morning, but the night before. What you do in the lead-up to sleep and the quality of sleep itself marks the start of your day.
Creating cues for sleep.  
One of the techniques Sesame Lane children have been experiencing in our Yoga program is yoga nidra. This technique is designed to deeply relax the physical body and in fact the body looks to be sleeping. The difference is that the mind remains awake and is given something helpful to do. This might be to visualise parts of the body, follow the breath or follow a guided story.
A technique such as this, which might be as short as 5 minutes or as long as an hour helps to slow the body and mind and bridges the gap between awake and gradual deep sleep.
Experience this yourself.  
If you would like to experience an adult version of what your children have been taught, you can listen to a free 12 minute audio called Mountain Savasana. 
Notice in the morning the quality of sleep you’ve had when you set aside just a few minutes to prepare the body and mind for sleep.

Thank you to Paige Enright from Emporium Yoga for sharing your tips.