by Alicia Mauldin, Certified YogaKids Teacher
My husband likes to take family rides in the car, as a way to spend time together and get out of the house. But, the minute I think of our three young kids cooped up in our mini-van, I immediately see into the future and hear “Stop kicking my seat,” “I’m bored,” “I’m hungry/thirsty,” or the ever so popular “Are we there yet?”
Driving in the car is not an appealing adventure for our kids, unless there is an exciting destination. We can listen to music and play a few car games, but after an hour or so, their attention shifts and bothering each other becomes their primary focus. This is where yoga comes in. Yoga helps to redirect their energy and calm their minds and bodies. My kids are familiar with the YogaKids breaths and poses, so they can typically adjust them for the car as needed.
I begin by explaining why we need yoga in that moment– and it is usually because someone is upset or bothered by their sibling. We might begin with “Peace Breath” and after a deep inhale, we exhale and whisper the word “peace.” We begin to imagine peace inside the car, peace between siblings and peace in the world.
We then want to bring our attention to parts of our bodies that have been still since sitting in the car. We might do “Eyes Around the Clock” to exercise our eyes; looking up and down with our eyes a few times, while keeping our heads still. Then looking left and right a few times. We can then start at the top of the ear and gently squeeze or massage down the curl of the outer ear to the lobe and back up. This is a great way to bring their attention to their ears and be sure they are listening to and respecting their siblings.
Keeping our eyes and ears open, we can do a modification of “360-Degree Owl” pose. We turn our heads slowly from side to side stretching our necks and wrap our arms behind us, so that we can open our chest. Followed by “Lizard Tongue,” we flick our tongues in and out as we pretend to catch a bug for a snack. This helps release tension in the jaw and bring our awareness to our mouths and our words – remembering to be impeccable with our word choice.
Lastly we do a seated “Lemon Toes” exercise. We imagine we are sipping sour lemonade up from the bottom of our feet to every part of the body and then breathe out and relax. Doing this a few times, helps release the physical tension that was build up in their bodies. With the kids’ attention redirected, we can keep driving and hopefully reach our destination before they get bored again! (Learn all these poses in the YogaKids book, available at YogaKids.com!)