Children inspired by yoga

Children Inspired by Yoga Sessions

Children Inspired by Yoga Sessions

Our yoga-inspired classes are founded a sense of fun and imagination but underneath the playfulness vital development emerges. There are 3 natural, but critical, processes of child development.  Behind the scenes our paediatric-physiotherapists, yoga-teachers and educationalists have carefully worked these 3 pillars of development into each class.  Here we’d like to share with you the detail and theory of what we focus on at Children Inspired by Yoga …

  • establishing  postural control
  • organisation of the senses
  • the emergence of self-regulation

1. POSTURAL CONTROL 

What is it?

So often children’s physical skills are defined by what they do … when did they crawl, walk, or learn to jump? We rarely think about how they control their body positon – yet this is vital for development.  

Why is it Important?

Postural control keeps us stable whilst in motion – at the start, during and after.  With good postural control a child can:

  • keep safe – break a fall by putting out a hand
  • feel confident – refining physical skills is empowering and boosts self-esteem
  • perfect hand skills – essential for writing, typing and basics like getting dressed
  • sharpen visual skills – vital on the sports field or classroom … following words on a page or whiteboard
  • maintain attention –a good sitting positon that’s automatic and comfortable helps a child attend to a task
  • keep healthy – being mobile and flexible when young avoids aches and pains in later life

Children Inspired by Yoga and Postural Control 

Our carefully graded Yoga poses help babies and children explore, and extend, their postural control in a very natural way – without realising what they are doing!

2. THE SENSES AND SENSORY ORGANISATION

Contrary to popular belief we actually have 7 senses. We all know about vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste, but there are 2 vital senses which tell us about our bodies …

  • our proprioceptive sense
  • our vestibular sense

Senses don’t work in isolation so for us to literally make sense of the world our brains have to learn how to sort, prioritise and organise the constant flow of sensory information they receive – this is sensory organisation.

Proprioception

Tiny, specialised cells, deep in our muscles and around our joints, provide our brains with constant updates on our body’s position – these are our proprioception detectors!  Every time we squeeze or stretch a muscle, bend or straighten a joint, even against a slight resistance, our proprioceptive sense is activated. The higher the resistance, the greater the proprioceptive input – we really stimulate this sense when we work hard! Pushing, pulling, or lifting our body weight are all ‘proprioceptive rich’ activities.

Why is it Important?

  • it helps us move – without proprioception, our movements would be slow and clumsy
  • it keeps us safe – it creates a mental image of our bodies in our brains so we don’t bump our heads when passing through a low doorway
  •  it helps us to control our emotions – like deep pressure touch, our bodies tend to accept and enjoy proprioceptive input. Doing hard work, proprioceptive rich, activities can help us to feel more grounded and organised – more on this later.

Children Inspired by Yoga and Proprioception

  • As children grow their body shape constantly changes. Our yoga-inspired stories encourage children to move into different shapes and positions enabling them to accurately update their mental image.
  • During our stories children are challenged to stretch and contract their muscles, to take weight through their joints, and to lift up their arms or legs, these proprioceptive rich activities help children to gently calm or alert themselves so they feel happy in their bodies, and receptive to learning.

The Vestibular Sense

Other specialised cells, deep within our ears, provide our brains with constant updates on our head movements. For example, is our head still? Is it moving slowly or quickly? Or are we upside down?! Like the proprioceptive sense we stimulate this sense every time we move, but we really stimulate our vestibular sense when we move our head vigorously.

Why is the Vestibular Sense Important?

  • it helps us to move and balance –  from about 7 years old we increasingly depend on it to keep us upright and stable.
  • it influences our vision – the vestibular sense is crucial for focusing and tracking skills
  • it’s critical for overall brain development and hugely impacts our ‘state of alertness’ – this sense is the ‘volume control of our body’, quick head movements ‘wake us up’ whilst slow, rocking head movements can calm us down.

Children Inspired by Yoga and Vestibular Sense 

  • Our varied Yoga poses give children a healthy, but balanced ‘dose’ of vestibular input. Children can spin round and round in helicopter pose, then sit, with their head still in butterfly pose. They can stand with their head still and upright in mountain pose, then put their head upside down in dog pose.
  • Young babies especially, thrive on varied vestibular input. In our Baby Bumpkin sessions gentle swings, combined with quieter poses, give the infant brain the perfect amount of vestibular input.
  • Children Inspired by Yoga teaches children to discover the right amount of vestibular activity their own body needs. Young children often use vestibular activities to alert themselves throughout their day, automatically seeking out spinning, rocking, swinging activities to wake themselves up if they feel drowsy, but sometimes they don’t know when to stop and too much spinning or swinging can lead to over-excitement! 

Sensory Organisation

What is it?

  • In order for us to accurately understand our environment, and respond appropriately, our sensory systems need smoothly work together.
  • Sensory organisation cannot be observed. Largely occurring in our brains, it is the ability to sort, prioritise and blend all the sensory information we receive so we can live and operate effectively and safely in the world.

Why is it Important?

  • it leads to coordinated movements – and has a profound impact on our general well-being, learning skills and ability to self-regulate.
  • The diagram below illustrates the benefits gained from good sensory organization.

Sensory Organisation and Children Inspired by Yoga

  • Sensory organisation is a natural, but complex process largely occurring in the first 7 years of life. From birth, babies need a variety of sensory experiences to develop their sensory organisation.
  • Children Inspired by Yoga sessions offer babies and children chances to experience sensations at their own pace, actively or quietly, creatively and joyfully. Getting the right balance of sensations is key and will vary from child to child.

 

3.  SELF-REGULATION AND THE IMPACT OF SENSORY ORGANISATION 

What is Self-regulation and How Does it Develop?

Self-regulation can be defined as the ability to manage stress: to be able to deal with a stressful situation and then recover to feel calmly focused and alert.

Current thinking suggests self-regulation is the result of processes occurring at different levels in our bodies and minds:

  • Babies and young children start to regulate their body’s ‘state of arousal’, they learn how to wake themselves up and how to calm themselves down for rest and sleep. This level is often called biological self-regulation.
  • Regulation then expands to the mind. Older children learning how regulate their social and emotional feelings and responses – emotional and social self-regulation.
  • With experience and time children start to regulate their cognitive or thinking skills. Managing attention and memory, learning how to inhibit impulses and developing the ability to cope with frustrations and delays – this is the level of cognitive self-regulation.

Sensory input has a huge impact on our biological, emotional and cognitive regulation. As adults, we develop ‘sensory habits’ to help regulate ourselves, these often involve our senses. Reflect on how you:

  • Wake your-self up in the morning. Do you: have a warm shower, a cup of coffee or go for brisk walk?
  • Help yourself to concentrate when learning something new. Do you: fidget, chew on a pen, rock on your chair?
  • Calm yourself down when you feel anxious or to sleep. Do you: sit quietly or lie down listening to soft music, have a meal with friends or drink a warm cup of milk?  

Self-regulation and Children Inspired by Yoga

Each baby and child needs to develop their own sensory habits, which will most effectively help them to self-regulate. Parents can support this process by being ‘sensory detectives’ for their little ones, offering them times of low sensory input, in quieter environments, and periods of higher sensory input, in more stimulating environments, all the time noting how their own child responds and then adapting the activity, or the environment, appropriately. Children Inspired by Yoga helps parents and carers, and the children themselves, become excellent sensory detectives!

Children Inspired by Yoga’s Rainbow Year

Our Yoga-inspired stories are presented in 7 week blocks to coincide with the school terms and the summer holidays. Each block corresponds to a colour of the rainbow. Alongside each story we have created a range of assets to back up all that we do.

The Rainbow Certificates- colourful and engaging reminders to the child and their parent of their session …

‘What I Did in my Class Today’ Information

Children can be inspired by Yoga throughout their day! These detailed sheets give guidance to parents and carers on how to do the ‘pose of the week’ with their baby or child – outlining the key benefits.

Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage One and Curriculum for Excellence Links
Every weekly story is carefully linked to both the English and Scottish curriculums. These documents provide clear evidence on how session content works to enhance and encourage the broad scope of a child’s development and learning. Physical, social and emotional and communication needs are all supported.

Colouring Sheets – to calm and remember
We provide bespoke colouring sheets to match every story. After children have stretched, balanced, or worked hard, in their Yoga poses, they can then settle down and colour in a picture related to the posture– keeping it as a memory of all that they have done.