A children’s book author and illustrator shares the benefits of morning sun salutation yoga flow to greet the day — and life — a practice for all ages
Mornings are such a special time of day. The sun rises. The earth warms. It’s a new day, with new challenges and new experiences to be had. However, in reality, mornings can be filled with chaos, anxiety and frustration. More often than not, we find ourselves frenetically running around in attempt to ensure that we are all prepared for the day ahead.
A morning routine is so beneficial for the whole family’s wellbeing. Kids love routine. These little rituals add security and comfort to the start of their day. We all have little rituals that we practice every single morning. As we wake, we may yawn and stretch. Our bodies, intuitively give a kickstart to awaken us from slumber. Perhaps you drink a cup of coffee (a green tea for me), read a chapter of your book, meditate, clean your teeth or just have a quiet moment before the hustle and bustle of family life begins.
This time is sacred. Children also need these transitionary quiet moments from sleep to waking to being fully alert. They too, need opportunities to reset, contemplate and reflect on the previous day and what may happen today. And before we bemoan the notion that there just isn’t enough time — this practice could literally be seconds or only a few minutes. But why not extend this gift to self and take five minutes (or more) to practice some sun salutations?
Sun Salutations are amazing for awakening your entire body and a wonderful addition in creating a happier and healthier start to the day.
What are sun salutations?
Sun Salutations, also known as Surya Namaskar, are a traditional yoga practice made up of 12 poses that are linked together to form a flow. Sun Salutations originated over 3,500 years ago and were traditionally a spiritual practice and used as a way to worship the sun, and traditionally practiced at sunrise.
A fun and imaginative way for kids to learn how to practice sun salutations is to follow the flow from my book, Hello, Sun!.
Kids can reach for the sky, become a waterfall, turn into a strong bridge and fly like a swan. They can practice as a tall, still and focused mountain, taking calming breaths as they place their hands to their hearts as they connect to the earth.
So why try to fit something else into your morning routine when life is so busy?
A Positive Start to the Day
Moving, stretching and connecting to your breath is a fantastic start to the day. Regular practice will also give your children the ability to face challenges, worries and anxieties in a much calmer way, managing emotions better as they have begun with a more positive outlook to the day.
Adding a mantra or affirmation before, during or after their sun salutations, that can be said out loud or internally, will reinforce the positivity of their practice and they can repeat regularly throughout the day as a positive reminder of how great they are and the memory of their morning.
The need to stop and re-set is very important. Taking a few moments out of a busy day to connect to your body and breath is highly beneficial to mental health for both adults and children, reducing stress and anxiety.
Paying attention and being in the here and now creates calmer and happier children, giving them ability to become more focused.
With regular practice, the sequence becomes a moving meditation. This is ideal for children who find it difficult to keep still and meditate. A moving meditation reaps all the benefits of traditional seated meditation.
Stress and anxiety have a huge effect on the body as well as the mind. In a state of stress, the body reacts as though it is in danger. Exercise and mindfulness will produce all the feel-good chemicals in the brain and calms down the sympathetic nervous system, taking it from fight-or-flight mode into a much calmer and relaxed state of mind and body.
Practicing sun salutations improves flexibility, strength, coordination, and cardiovascular health.
Learning something new and enjoying the morning practice is great for self-esteem and confidence. With such a positive start your child will feel they can face the day, continuing to use their affirmation/mantra, treating themselves with regular self-love and compassion.
Creating routine encourages your child to self-manage. You will likely find that if you miss your practice for a day, your body, mind and spirit will be quickly remind you, “Hey, we haven’t done our sun salutations today!” Be forewarned, the good feels are addictive!
Yoga is also non-competitive, so the day starts without any pressure or negativity.
Taking time, no matter how short, to practice as a family is highly rewarding and will in turn strengthen relationships within the family and with others too.
Sun salutations are a fun and engaging way to spend quality time connecting to each other in movement and breath. Adults can join in with their children promoting health, wellbeing, connection and laughter, too.
There are so many amazing benefits from practicing sun salutations and the ‘yogi glow’ you feel afterwards sets you and your family up for the day.
Finding that extra time in your regular routine will make your mornings a little bit brighter and a little bit more ‘shiny’. So why not fill your mornings with sunshine?
You may also enjoy reading Messages Beyond Movement: Partner Yoga for Kids, by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder