It is quite a challenging time we live in right now. It is stressful for both parents and children. Yet, during this midst of chaos, we have received the gift of time. Time to pause and connect and relax. Normally we are too busy. Deadlines await, children need to be picked up and dinner cooked. And here we are. Most of us with extra time on our hands and many more pauses than we have ever experienced. Chances are we are all spending more time together than we normally do, most likely we move our bodies a little less than during regular circumstances, and most certainly, everything is way different than the it usually is.
Here is an easy meditative practice you can do together with your child to both connect and relax. Before you start this muscle relaxation technique, take a moment to check in with both body and mind and breath. Asking questions and noticing things like: is the breath shallow or deep? Does the body feel wiggly or tired, the mind busy or quiet?
When your child seems settled, ask him or her to take a deep breath through their nose for at least three-five seconds, hold it for two seconds, and then exhale for at least three-five seconds through the mouth, hold for two seconds. Repeat this a few times until your child seems relaxed. Ask your child to pay attention to the sensations of the breath moving through the body. The belly and chest will slowly rise with the inhale and lower with the exhale. Notice the coolness in the nostrils on the inhale and the warmth on the exhale. Then slowly relax the breath, allowing it to move into a more organic pattern. Consider recording this muscle relaxation and replay it while you do it together with your child!
Muscle Relaxation Technique
1 – Sit or lie down comfortably and close your eyes. You can use pillows or blankets to make yourself as comfortable as you can be.
2 – Take a few deep, cleansing breaths as you begin to relax. In and exhaling through your nose.
3 – Bring all of your attention to your right foot, noticing how it feels. Squeeze the right foot, making a fist with your entire right foot and all five toes; tense and squeeze it tightly. Hold this tension for two deep breaths.
4 – Then release all tension in the right foot suddenly. Relax it completely and notice the tension release. You may feel a tingling sensation in the foot. Take a deep breath, and then move on to the opposite foot. . .
5 – With your attention on your left foot, squeeze it, making a fist with your entire left foot and all five toes; tense and squeeze it tightly. Hold this tension for two deep breaths. Then release the tension and fully relax. Take a deep breath, and. . .
6 – Move slowly up and around the body, squeezing one body part at a time to create tension, immediately followed by the contrasting sensation of release and ease. MSOF’S Fitness FocusFollow each part with a deep, cleansing breath. For example, from the beginning:
- Right foot, left foot
- Right ankle and calf, left ankle and calf
- Right knee, left knee
- Right thigh, left thigh
- Both feet and legs
- Entire lower body, from tummy down
- Chest and heart
- Right arm, left arm
- Right hand, left hand
- Whole body at once (do this one twice)
When you’re finished guiding your child through the relaxation technique, make sure you spend at least a few minutes in quiet together and once again, remind yourself and your child to keep the breathing slow and steady.
You can also do this right before bedtime and go straight to sleep. Enjoy!
Sofia is a Yoga & Meditation teacher, Expressive Arts facilitator, Health Coach, and a Special Operations spouse of 20 years. She was introduced to yoga and meditation as she tried to process and understand their Special Operations family experience of repeated deployments and injuries.
These experiences caused deep feelings of disconnect and loneliness for their family. These cumulative experiences drove Sofia’s passion for sharing the tools of yoga, meditation, and expression with parents and children going through enormous amounts of stress. Sofia provides education and coaching that encompasses mindful movement, breath works, expressive arts, and comprehensive health and wellness coaching.