Mindfulness & Yoga for Kids
Children and young adults make up a wonderful generation rich with potential, creativity and inspiration. However, our world is so fast-paced, piling on constant pressures and stresses - which can lead to anxiety, burnout, and an overriding feeling of never quite achieving enough. It’s never been more important to cultivate a sense of playfulness, freedom and mindfulness in the younger generation - and no one champions this more than Emily McGregor, founder of Generation Mind Body and Soul.
Emily runs yoga, music mindfulness, meditation and self belief classes for children and young people. Her focus is to help the younger generation to be the happiest and healthiest they can be, and find coping tactics to help navigate trickier times. We chatted with Emily to dig deeper into her beliefs and goals for her business.
Your ethos focuses on allowing children and young adults the space to cultivate relaxation and happiness, and learn helpful mindfulness techniques. Why do you think it's so crucial to help the next generation learn these invaluable skills?
Children and young adults today are under a huge amount of pressure, and I truly believe there has never been a more challenging time to be a young person. The education system, social media, fitting in with your peers, environmental concerns, living up to their family’s expectations, body image and hormones are just some of the issues this young generation are dealing with. Yoga and mindfulness can have such a positive impact on the mental, emotional, social, physical health and wellbeing of young people today - and if we can incorporate it into their lives at a young age that can only be a good thing.
Can you talk us through how a yoga, music and meditation session normally goes, and how the children respond to it?
I have been teaching yoga and mindfulness to children for around four years now, and I’m still amazed at how well children of all ages respond. It also surprises lots of the parents that the relaxation part of the class is normally the children’s favourite bit.
I always start my classes with a little sharing circle, where we say how we are feeling or share something about our day. This is something I find works well for children as young as four, all the way up to teens. The classes always incorporate breath work and a series of yoga postures that are normally woven together through a story, poem, or piece of music. We always finish with the best bit: relaxation. I try to make this part of the class as cosy and luxurious as possible with blankets, pillows, foot massages, beautiful music, singing, and relaxing stories. Children love a bit of pampering as much as us adults.
Do you notice a tangible difference in their mood after they've taken part?
Absolutely! I definitely notice that children are more relaxed after a class that incorporates yoga, mindfulness, and calming relaxation.
What are your top tips for parents who want to start incorporating meditation, yoga and mindfulness into their children's lives?
Lots of schools are now offering yoga to their students in the form of a club, so there is a good chance that your child will have been introduced to yoga at school which is fantastic. Also, check out your local yoga studio and see if they are running any children’s classes.
If you want to start doing some yoga and meditation with your children at home, then I would try and make the space feel as calm as possible with nice music and maybe some essential oils. Make it something special that you can do together. Let your child’s imagination lead the yoga - try making up a story together and put some yoga poses to it, maybe even create some of your own poses. You will be amazed at some of the yoga adventures children come up with.
Do you have any book recommendations for children that focus on yoga, mindfulness and meditation?
Animal Asanas Yoga for Children by Leila Kadri Oostendorp and Elsa Mroziewicz Bahia
Words And Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal
In My Heart by Jo Witek
ABC Mindful Me by Christiane Engel
Our tips and recommendations
Here at The Every Space, we completely agree with Emily that there’s never been a more challenging time to be a child - but with the help of some wonderful resources and techniques, those challenges become a little bit easier to navigate. Along with plenty of self care products, relaxing scented candles and playful gifts for children, we stock some incredible books to help inspire and calm young minds.
Our top three books for kids are:
A playful, beautifully illustrated picture book to help the minis relax (and adults, too) - Calm with The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
A practical guide to helping children express and understand themselves - Stand Tall Like a Mountain: Mindfulness and Self Care for Children and Parents by Suzy Reading
A thought-provoking read to encourage discussions and cultivate new ideas - Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy by The School of Life
Reading calming books and attending yoga classes are both relaxing ways to gently ease children into the world of mindfulness, but there are plenty of other options if these don’t suit your lifestyle. Finding a new hobby or class for you and your children to attend is a great way to carve out some valuable time together and give the kids the opportunity to play freely.
There are also plenty of apps and online resources that you can weave easily into your daily routine - Headspace for Kids is a brilliant example of an app which helps parents and kids explore meditation techniques and engaging activities together. No matter how hectic your schedule, there are always a myriad of ways to incorporate mindfulness into your children’s daily routine, which can have deeply positive and long-lasting results.
Emily runs @generationmindbodysoul at @eastofeden17 on Wednesday afternoons during term time.
Written in collaboration with Mollie Carberry