Take the beloved bedtime story ritual a step further with Mariam Gates's sequence that will soothe little ones to sleep.
It's bedtime. The kids are squabbling over bath toys, toothpaste, or nothing at all. Or they’re giddy—stuffed animals and giggles flying around the bedroom. Either scenario, you pine for family bonding, serenity and, sleep. “Sometimes your first impulse is to fight against what’s happening. You know, ‘Everybody, settle down!’ Sure there’s time that is your role,” says Mariam Gates, author of Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story. “This book says let’s take that energy and in a very short amount of time, learning how to use the body as a tool, we can settle.”
Presto! Your little one’s eyelids are smooth as silk, as she snuggles her teddy beneath the covers. Along the way, you share your love for yoga and teach your children to feel what’s happening inside their bodies. Good Night Yoga takes you all on a story of settling ladybugs, sparkling stars, and a little blue cat who lives in the moon. Each step of the journey into night has its own pose and breathing exercise that make up a pre-bedtime yoga sequence for kids in early to middle childhood.
“What we’re looking for is a reset button for families,” says Gates, who founded Kid Power Yoga and holds a master’s in education from Harvard University. “We have to teach our kids it’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to be sad, angry, happy, proud, excited. All of that is part of this human existence. But we need to be able, at the end of each day, with all those swirling experiences and emotions, to understand that we get to reset.”
In a world where children’s calendars are packed with painting, soccer, girl scouts, and jiu-jitsu, Gates believes it’s vital they learn to let it all go at the end of the day. With Good Night Yoga, kids self-soothe by taking long breaths in and long breaths out, the easiest way to calm the nervous system, Gates says. The book also shows four- to eight-year-olds that they can move their bodies intentionally to release pent-up stress. It includes 11 poses plus a cloud visualization meditation. But, lucky us, Gates and two young yogis are demonstrating the sequence here, just for Yoga Journal. So tonight, roll out your sticky mats or simply spread out on the bedroom carpet. Your children will salute you with the gentle rise and fall of their bellies as they drift into dreams.