5 Kid-Friendly Yoga Poses to Help Manage the Bedtime Battle
Why is bedtime so challenging? It is an event that happens every day, and the variables seem so predictable—pajamas, teeth, book, sleep—so why does it (always) take the children in my household by surprise?
The looks of confusion (betrayal!) and shock that I get when it’s “time to go to bed” is akin to announcing we are moving to Japan—tomorrow. At one level, they just can’t believe what I am saying.
And really, it goes downhill from there.
Bedtime, a time where want to help our kids to relax, to feel safe and warm, comes at the time of day when they (and we) are not at our best. Bedtime should really happen first thing in the morning when we have our wits about us. But it doesn’t, and so we are left with an endless set of discussions/decisions: One more story? One more glass of water? Yes, I’ll stay with you. No, you really need to just settle. Stop coming out of your room. Well of course you can’t fall asleep yet, you’ve been in bed for 10 seconds.
All of this can make the end of the day a time of frustration rather than relaxation.
What is needed in these moments when fatigue (yours and theirs) is calling the shots is to release the tension in the body to allow for a greater sense of calm (and sleepiness) throughout the whole central nervous system. Also, having a habit of settling down at the end of the day can go a long way toward creating a natural rhythm for falling asleep.
Here is where yoga can help: Through basic breathing and movement techniques, yoga help create a relaxation ritual as a part of bedtime that will support everyone in heading to bed with more ease.
The following are 5 kid-friendly yoga poses that will help you to manage the bedtime battle:
- Half Moon
Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and bend to one side, then the other side. This easy side to side movement opens the lateral line of connective tissue (side body) creating a natural ease in deep relaxed breathing.
Sit on the ground, press the soles of your feet together and your knees spread out like butterfly wings. Roll your shoulders back. This gentle stretch improves flexibility in the hips for a more restful night’s sleep.
- Bee’s Breath
Inhale and sit up straight with your arms back. Exhale and lower your forehead toward the ground—buzzing all the way down. This slow extended exhalation is relaxing for the mind and body, and fun to do!
- Child’s Pose
Press back onto your knees and rest. This is a very relaxing pose which stretches the lower back, hips and thighs and calms the central nervous system.
- Cloud Journey Visualization
There are moments when giving a child a new visualization or imagery to focus on can also go a long way to calm an agitated central nervous system. Lie on your back with your hands by your sides. Take a deep breath in . . . and let a long breath out. Imagine you are lying on a white, puffy cloud. Feel yourself sink into its softness as the cloud lifts you up, up, up into the air. You are floating. Feel how good it is to be there. Breathe in. Breathe out. When you are ready, your cloud slowly brings you down, down, down. It settles you gently back on the earth. As your cloud pulls away, it takes with it anything that is troubling you. You are left feeling calm, peace, and happiness inside. Take another deep breath in . . . and let a long breath out.
Illustrations: Sarah Jane Hinder
Mariam Gates holds a master’s in education from Harvard University and has more than 20 years’ experience working with children. Her renowned Kid Power Yoga™ program combines her love of yoga with teaching to help children access their inner gifts. She is the author of Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story (Sounds True, April 2015), and the forthcoming, Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story (Sounds True, March 2016). She lives in Santa Cruz, CA with her husband, yoga teacher and author, Rolf Gates, and their two children. See http://www.mariamgates.com