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The ABCs of ZZZ

Yoga at bedtime teaches tired kids to soothe themselves.

By Katherine Rae

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It's a common source of stress for parents as the school year begins: You want your children to get a good night's sleep, but settling down at the close of a busy day can be a struggle for many kids. If your child has trouble winding down, try making a short evening yoga practice part of your bedtime routine.

"Yoga gives kids a tool to self-soothe. It's a way of letting their bodies slow down at a natural pace," says Laurie Jordan, a children's yoga teacher in Connecticut and author of the bedtime yoga book Yawning Yoga.

Jordan suggests creating a 10- to 15-minute practice including a few asanas, breathing practices, and visualizations.

Younger kids can expel excess energy through asanas and relaxation practices such as tensing and releasing muscles. Jordan suggests playfully adapting simple poses. Happy Baby Pose can be a "Bedtime Bug" that rocks back and forth; Standing Forward Bend becomes a monkey with long arms. For older kids, breathing practices and visualizations can help them process the emotions of the day. Ask kids to spend time picturing themselves going to a place where they feel safe and happy.

To close the session, Jordan suggests this centering practice: Have your child rub her palms together and cup them over her eyes. Then have her rub her palms together again, first massaging the neck and finally placing the hands gently over her heart.

September 2011

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