If you could spend 20 minutes before bed each night doing a routine that would allow you and child to bond, calm down, relax your mind and body, and prepare you for better sleep would you do it? Doing mindfulness breathing, yoga, and meditation before bed not only overall allows for a healthier mind and body but will also give you a better, more restful sleep at night. It can also decrease anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and heart rate along with helping your kids become prepared for everyday stressors.
Lately I have been asked by parents “Is there something I can do for the kids before bed to help them wind down?” and I can completely understand why. I feel like my kids FIGHT bedtime almost every night. So I started to implement a nightly routine to see if doing yoga before bed would help my kids calm down. I started implementing it slowly. Starting with just shutting the TV off and doing a calming breathing technique first. Not wanting to overwhelm my kids with 30 minutes of intense change. Then I added in the breathing with a couple yoga poses and within a couple weeks we were doing this entire routine.
Before getting started I wanted to create a nice calming environment for the kids and I. Laying out blankets or mats, dimming the lights down, I even added a Himalayan salt lamp to cultivate a calming feeling, and played relaxing music like sounds of nature or piano music. Some music services have playlists already formed to aid in relaxing your mind and body. A couple of my favorites on Spotify are Peaceful Piano, Sleepy Piano, and Musical Therapy. It also helps if I speak in a soft calming voice.
Now that we have our calming space to go to I sat the kids down and told them that we had a mission to do. This getting the kids excited and wanting them to own what we were just about to do. I told them that the moon really needed our help to come up into the sky at night. It needed us to breathe it up and breath the sun down to allow it to set. So we sat down on our blankets and mats cross-legged with our arms resting down by our side. We would inhale deeply in through our nose and bring our right arm up above our head and then on the exhale breathing out of our mouth we brought our left hand up above our head next to our right hand making a round shape with our arms. Then we repeated it but this time bringing our hands back down by our sides one at a time. Repeating that motion 2 more times before moving on.
After helping setting the sun and bringing the moon up then we needed to do yoga poses to help keep the moon awake all night long allowing us a good nights sleep. I always start with standing poses. These will be the most energetic of the sequences and we want to meet them where they are at energy wise. I do want to mention that this practice isn’t about being perfect. Try not to correct them too much and just let them explore the poses. Kids are very flexible and their bones are still forming so doing the poses wrong have lower risk of injury for them but if something isn’t feeling right for them or hurting make sure they stop the pose immediately. It’s about the experience for them. Having time together with mom and dad, having a routine that promotes healthy sleep, allowing them to use their imagination and possibly create their own poses that help them calm down. Just have fun with it.
I will now go over some poses to help them calm down, I also added some affirmations for them to use while holding the poses.
Greeting The Night:
Standing on the top of the mat feet hip distance apart and grounded into the mat or blanket.
Inhale your arms above head saying “Rise up for me moon and stars”
folding down touching your toes saying “and shine in the night sky above me” placing your hands on your shins coming to a flat back and lengthening out of the crown of your head “I breath in deep to feel my strength”
Step back to down dog “I stretch my spine to feel it’s length”
Step back to your hands “It’s time for bed now little ones”
Swoop your arms up to standing position bringing your hands to heart center, “Show your smile”
Wave and say “goodnight sun, goodnight moon”.
Now that we have got our wiggles out and welcomed the night sky, it’s time to do a couple calming postures that will aid in better sleep. Slow deliberate movement calms the nervous system allowing the mind and body to naturally calm down. I will share a handful of poses and you can pick and choose which ones or all to do.
A good way to slow the mind down and is to force them to focus on something. Balancing poses take a lot of concentration resulting in focus. A couple poses you can do are Airplane pose or Tree pose.
Airplane: Start in standing mountain. Find a focal point that is stationary and start to shift your weight over to one foot lifting the opposite foot behind you. You will want to keep your hips square to the ground and standing knee slightly bent. I like to have the kids say the affirmation “I am graceful”.
Tree pose: Start in standing mountain. Find a focal point that is stationary and start to shift your weight over to one foot. Point the other foot out in front of you. Once you have your balance open your pointed foot’s knee open to the side and place the toe on the ground next to your standing ankle. You can then shift your foot up to your calf or grab it and place it into the upper thigh. Be sure not to place your foot covering your knee. Using the affirmation “I am calm”.
Sometimes I’ll add in some side bends between these two poses. Inhaling our arms overhead interlacing the fingers and flipping the palms up then bending over to one side, back to center and over to the other side. “I am safe”.
Now that we’ve done some standing poses we will come down to the ground. I like to start on our hands and knees rotating from cat cow. After that I pick a couple hip openers to help stretch the hips and aid in better sleep and forward folds to help with grounding.
Cat/Cow pose: Starting in a tabletop position with your palms under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Ground in through your palms inhale and lift your chest, chin, and hips towards the ceiling, exhale round your back, tuck your chin, and breath into that space between your shoulder blades. Affirmation “I am peaceful”.
Butterfly pose: Starting seated placing the souls of the feet together and spreading the knees out wide. You can always flap your wings, talk about what butterfly you would be? Big wings? Colors? And possibly what they are seeing while they fly up in the sky. You can also add a forward fold to this by lengthening out of the crown of your head and exhaling your arms out in front of you on the ground. Affirmation “I am happy”.
Extended puppy pose: Starting in tabletop position with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Take your knees out a little wider. Inhale and then exhale and reach your arms out in front of you while bringing you forehead and chest down to the ground and keeping your hips up in the air. Affirmation “I am grounded”.
This is one of my favorite poses to do before final relaxation because it is so calming as well as grounding. It has a gentle spinal twist and allows your body to fully relax. Start by grabbing your pillow placing it horizontal in front of you. Bring your hips to the bottom of the pillow bending your knees and laying them to either side. Place your hands on either side of the pillow. Inhale and exhale lay your chest down on top of your pillow bringing your head to either side. You may realize that you may need to adjust as you settle in. I like to stay close to my kids and hold hands during this pose. Holding the pose for 2-5 minutes before switching my legs to the opposite direction. Affirmation “I am rested”.
Now for the final resting position I will do a couple different things. I will have them lie on their backs and place their hands over their chest. Feeling the rise and fall of their breath. Or I will have them lay on top of me allowing them to notice my breath going in and out. Otherwise we just lay next to each other and hold hands. Sometimes I take them on a peaceful trip through the night noticing all the stars, feeling the warm breeze on our face, and listening to the crickets and frogs. It is truly a magical experience.
Ending the routine by saying Namaste to each other which means “The light within me honors and bows to the light within you”.