Back-to-school yoga: 5 ways to start this school year off with confidence and calm
By Lara Hocheiser, Flow and Grow Kids Yoga Founder/Owner and Kathryn Boland, Flow and Grow Kids Yoga Blog Manager
Back-to-school can bring many challenging feelings -- excitement, anxiousness, insecurity, and sometimes even a feeling of overwhelm from a new routine and new responsibilities. Mental and physical fatigue can set in from all of that, as well. The result can be kids that are physically scattered, unfocused, and somehow both exhausted and overstimulated.
Let's find ways to feel grounded, calm, balanced, and empowered through yoga and mindfulness. All you need is your body, your breath, and your ability to pay attention to how you feel! After each of the steps described below, guide students to take a few deep breaths just to check in with their body, mind, and heart.
Feeling unbalanced? Got the wiggles? Bumping into tables and walls? Try Tree Pose!
- Stand up straight and tall in mountain pose. Take in a deep breath.
- Look ahead and find a point (this can be an object, a wall, or window) to focus on.
- As you breathe out, slowly bring up your left foot. Bend your knee, and place your left foot on the inside part of your right leg.
- Relax and straighten the left leg on the floor, shifting your weight into the foot. Ground it – imagine it being a tree root, weaving through the Earth and hold steady.
- Inhale and bring your hands to your sides. Reach out like branches on a tree.
- Exhale and bring the hands together in front of your heart. Then lift them strongly overhead. You are a growing tree!
- Hold the pose and gaze ahead. Imagine being a tree. What type of tree are you? Are you in a grove? In the middle of a meadow? In a park? Think about where trees live.
- Toddlers and preschoolers, hold for just a quick moment. Big kids, see how long you can stay in the pose!
- When you feel done, return your leg to the ground and arms to the sides. Now repeat with the other leg to be balanced.
Feeling worried? Try Mountain Pose, and imagine that you are as steady as a mountain.
- Stand with your feet at hip width distance apart. Imagine you can grow the soles of your feet and toes down into the Earth, which helps you feel steady as a huge mountain at its base.
- Then, standing up straight and let your arms fall to your sides.
- Turn your palms forward and spread your fingers out.
- Lengthen your spine by lifting the crown of your head a little higher toward the sky right above you. Breathe steadily in and out. Stand firmly in your strength.
Feeling like your thoughts are going and going, like your mind is busier than a buzzing bee? Try Belly Breathing!
- Close your eyes, if comfortable for you, or gaze softly ahead.
- Feel long and tall through your spine.
- Breathe in deeply, filling up your whole belly like a balloon. How big can you blow it up?!
- Breathe out, completely emptying your "balloon."
- Try that 3-5 more times.
- Breathe normally to rest.
Feeling scared? The new school year can mean new faces, new places, and lots to remember. Stand tall and strong in your Warrior II Pose. [Looking for even more empowerment through yoga and mindfulness? We have a sequence and visuals for that!]
- Begin in Mountain Pose. Take in a deep breath and relax.
- Then, on an exhale, step your left foot back. Straighten and extend your left foot to where it feels comfortable. Make sure both heels are aligned.
- Point your right foot straight in front of you.
- Bend your right knee, stacking it directly over your right ankle. Straighten your back leg.
- Extend your right arm straight over the right leg and left arm straight over the left leg.
- Relax shoulders and breathe gently in and out. Embody the strong warrior within.
Need reminders that you're totally capable of meeting the challenges that the new school year can bring? Try these mantras!
- Sit up tall, rooted down through your seat but with your head growing up to the sky like a straight, strong, tall tree.
- Check in with your breath. Can you make it even deeper and smoother? Maybe you practice a couple of Belly Breaths.
- Out loud, or just in your mind, say these short phrases: "I am strong. I am calm. I am kind. I can do it!"
- Repeat that three to five more times.