“Stop breathe look around, and embrace the miracle of each day, the miracle of life.” – Jeffrey A White
Everything begins with the breath and ends with the breath.
In yoga we refer to the breath as prana, a Sanskrit word for life force or life energy and the art of consciously affecting or controlling our breath is known as pranayama.
Prana enters the body through breathing and is sent to every cell through the circulatory system.
As can be clearly seen the breath is critical for the sustenance of life. Flowing from this the quality of our breathing also effects the functioning of our brain and our emotions.
Once you are conscious of the important role the breath plays in our physical and mental wellbeing it makes sense to take time to do some conscious breathing exercises to give our system an extra boost and allow our minds to relax and support the creative flow of thoughts and expressions.
Here is a fun breathing exercise that engages the thoughts with the breath.
Breath of Love
Sit in a comfortable seated position on the floor with your hands gently resting on your knees, palms facing upwards or in a mudra position. A popular mudra is the ‘chin’ mudra, where the first finger and thumb are touching and the palms gently opening upwards. A mudra is a hand position in yoga which means “lock” or “seal”. In yogic science, each area of the hand relates to a certain area of the brain. In applying pressure to the fingers and hands, the related brain areas are stimulated. The chin mudra corresponds to the area that activates wisdom and knowledge.
Gently breathing in and out, take a moment to settle your mind and body.
You may sit with your eyes open or close, which ever feels the most comfortable. Many like to close their eyes, as it reduces distractions on the mind from one’s surrounding.
Now begin the breathing exercise.
Take a deep breath in all the way down to your stomach for a count of 3. As you are breathing in think of something or someone that you feel great love towards. Allow this feeling of love to flow through your entire body.
Hold this image in your mind’s eye for a count of 2 or 4 which ever feels comfortable.
Then gently breathe out for a count of 6 and as you breathe out imagine you are a big bright shinny beacon of love radiating love out into the world.
Repeat this breathing exercise for three to five minutes and observe how your body feels. You may feel warm energised light bright afterwards.
As can be seen from the above breathing exercise our breath plays a key role in how we feel and the health of our body, therefor as you go through your day, observe your breath and practise breathing more deeply.
Especially at times when you may be feeling anxious or nervous, taking a few deep breaths all the way down to your stomach and breath out slowly. This will help to calm your mind, body and nerves and support the creative flow of new ideas.
Children and young adults are faced with many expectations and constant stimulation through the internet, media and other communication technologies.
To maintain a healthy balance, it is important that adults support the wellbeing of young people by encouraging them to incorporate a variety of activities which will help counterbalance this hyperactivity of mental stimulation on personal psychology and physical wellbeing.
Yoga is an activity that provides training of mind and body to bring emotional and physical balance. It provides a tool for children and young adults to listen inwards to their bodies feeling and ideas.
It facilitates space for the body to rest and relax the nerve on a cellular level. Through a range of breathing and physical asana’s (postures) exercises it shifts the body biochemically from a state of excitement and tension to a state of calm, deep rest and relaxation.
Yoga strengthens and elongates muscles, tone up glands, internal organs and spine nerves. Also increased blood flow aids the digestive system and the lymphatic system to eliminates toxins from the body.
Yoga is also suitable for treating trauma, as regulated breathing calms your parasympathetic nervous system and the mindfulness required helps counteract dissociative effects of trauma.
In studies with teenager’s yoga has been found to strengthen emotional resilience. Some studies suggest yoga can have an effect similar to that of anti-depressants.
The simple practice of mindful breathing is one of the most effective ways to lower stress levels. Breath changes in response to emotions. Actively changing the breath rate can change autonomic function (fight or flight) and mood states.
Yoga supports the flow of energy within the body, thus releasing any tension which may have been created because of trauma and stress.
It also provides space for a young person to go within and connect with their selves on a deeper level, which in turn supports creativity, concentration, self-esteem, self-love, compassion etc.
In conclusion yoga provides many benefits to support both physical and mental health of kids and young adults.
Once again, this week, it has been reported that the statistics are increasing for our young suffering from self-harm, depression, anxiety, suicide to name a few.
And the question that keeps popping into my head is “Why is this happening?”
We are currently the most advanced we have been, why is this happening to our children, surely if anything our young should be experiencing a rise in health and well-being.
I have posed the question to several people, and the consensus has been, too much technology, media influence and breakdown of the family unit to name a few.
The next question that naturally flows and pops into my head is how can we stop these growing statistics and reverse them?
What solutions and help are we currently providing for young people who currently feel challenged in their lives.
One of the tools which I think the current education system needs to facilitate more is yoga and meditation.
The reason why I think this is a resource that will support young minds, is the fact that yoga and meditation creates a space where a young person can connect with their core, recognise and acknowledge the beauty of their soul, their spirit.
Tune into the source of their anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts and learn to dissipate them.
Once a young person masters the art of connecting with their diamond within, know they are part of a Universe that loves them unconditionally, this will provide the guiding light to illuminate those moments of darkness that may surface.
These are a few of my thoughts on the subject, please do share your thoughts on why and suggestions on how we can stop and reverse the current growing statistics below.
Imagine a world where every child made choices based on a mindset of compassion for the self, compassion for others and compassion for the planet… how different our world would be.
Compassion for the self, goes hand in hand with self-love, as when we truly love ourselves we can do no harm to others.
Here is a fun class activity to reinforce self love in young minds.
Sit children in a circle with a jigsaw puzzle, ask the children to put the jigsaw puzzle together.
Once the puzzle has been completed, engage with the children and ask them what they think the purpose of the exercise was.
Many will say teamwork, great, acknowledge this and thank everyone for their feedback.
Now remove two pieces from the completed puzzle.
Ask children if the pieces are the same……..discuss the fact that they are different shape, sizes, colour etc.
Now observe the puzzle with the class and discuss the fact that without these two pieces the puzzle is incomplete.
Now ask children to look around the circle and observe their classmates, each a different shape, size, colour, tastes, gifts etc
Then discuss with group, using the jigsaw puzzle as your visual aid the importance of each piece to make the puzzle complete.
Then progress to explain in the puzzle of life, each person is unique and special and of equal importance to make the world complete.
As each piece of the jigsaw puzzle has a unique role of equal importance to its completion, so in life each child has a unique role of equal importance to complete the world.
The session can be ended with the children sitting and taking a moment to acknowledge in the their own mind that they are unique and special and of equal importance to the world and giving themselves a love filled hug of gratitude for the wonderment of themselves.
Dr Masaru Emoto (1943 – 2014) was a Japanese researcher who claimed human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water.
One of the experiments he did was to place different written words on water and to note the effect it had on water crystals as seen in the following video:
From his experiment, it can be seen that different words and their intention have different effect on the structure of water crystals, with words such as, Thank You, Love, Compassion, Truth, Peace, Love & Gratitude, Humility etc creating beautiful crystal structures and unkind words creating distorted, non-symmetrical dysfunctional crystal structures.
If words can do this to water, imagine what words can do to us as the majority of our body is water.
Dr Emoto was passionate about sharing this knowledge with children and authored two children books, “The Secret of Water for the Children of the World” and “The Message from Water” children’s version, which was printed in over 75 countries and is available free of charge on his website. http://www.emotopeaceproject.net/picture-books/4584092537
Please download his children book at the above link, which beautifully illustrates to children the power of their words and intention and encourages them to show love and thanks to themselves and others.
“Words are the vibration of nature. Therefore, beautiful words create beautiful nature. Ugly words create ugly nature. This is the root of the universe.”
Sunlight is necessary for most life forms on earth and plays an important role in the healthy development of children.
With the growing popularity in technology more and more children spend most of their time indoors glued to screens. However, as parents we need to make a consorted effort to get our children enjoying outdoor play and sunshine, as the health benefits of sunshine are critical for their healthy growth and development.
Here are a few of the Health Benefits of sunshine for children:
Sunlight helps the body’s production of vitamin D, which is a very important compound for development of children. Vitamin D supports healthy bones and brain.
Sunlight is necessary to regulate the internal body clock and support sleep. Sleep time is important because during sleep a child’s body is busy growing and developing both physically and mentally. Study has shown that an extra hour of sleep has improved emotion regulation, decreased impulsivity and improved attention and behaviour.
Sunlight influences the production of Serotonin a chemical messenger in the brain used to regulate moods and emotions. High levels of Serotonin is related to feelings of wellbeing and joy in children and low levels related to impulsivity, aggression, depression and anxiety.
Researchers have found that playing outdoors in nature has a positive and calming effect on children.
Watch this video for some more health benefits of sunshine.
Vote because we need justice in this country. Vote because the planet depends on it. If not now, when? https://www.pscp.tv/w/cMJT3zFyYWpaRHdBVlZhUXp8MVlxS0RuQm9CdndKVjMM4QICIgZ5zGd9Guu_-lXDIOYCzbStAC_UA3PeB6ua