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Mantras That Move: Energizing and Uplifting Exercises for Kids

Just For Fun Parenting

As parents, our greatest wish is to have healthy and happy kids. In an age where children are surrounded by social media, drowning in busy schedules and stressed to the max by the pressure to excel in all things, it’s not surprising that they are battling anxiety, depression and a host of other emotional struggles in higher numbers than ever. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lost as a parent on how to foster contentment in our children.

We know that to be physically healthy, we must encourage our children to be active and exercise. But health extends far beyond the physical realm. A strong body cannot achieve much without a positive attitude to go along with it. Health and happiness go hand in hand. Therefore, we must put as much emphasis on fostering happiness in our children as we do their physical health.

For children to feel happy, it is critical that they honor and appreciate themselves. Mantra is a tool we can teach our children to create a positive attitude and foster self-love. Mantras are phrases that are repeated many times as a form of meditation. They are like training for our thoughts. Think about the little engine that could, “I think I can, I think I can”. The words must be repeated to be ingrained in the mind and therefore believed.

Below are some exercises that couple physical movement with positive personal mantras. When practiced regularly, these exercises can help build physical strength, as well as mental fortitude and emotional resilience. The exercises are fun and can help when our children feel frustrated, sad or overwhelmed.

Finger Tap Stretch And Affirm

 Mantras that Move for Kids

Sit tall in criss-cross applesauce. Imagine yourself as a puppet with a string lifting you up through the crown of your head. Choose four positive “I am” affirmations. Tap each finger to your thumb as you recite your affirmations. Inhale as you lift your arms above your head slowly as you tap each finger. Exhale on the way down repeating each four finger tap. Complete ten rounds of breathing and tapping.

Example:
Inhale, stretching arms above the head reciting the following:

  1. I am strong (thumb tip taps pointer tip)
  2. I am smart (thumb tip taps middle tip)
  3. I am kind (thumb tip taps ring tip)
  4. I am calm (thumb tip taps pinky tip)

Exhale, lowering the arms back down by your sides reciting the following:

  1. I am calm (thumb tip taps pinky tip)
  2. I am kind (thumb tip taps ring tip)
  3. I am smart (thumb tip taps middle tip)
  4. I am strong (thumb tip taps pointer tip)

The focused breathing of this exercise will help children calm down and be present in the moment. Linking the breath with the movement helps children pay attention to their bodies while the positive affirmations make the children feel good about themselves.

Out, Up, Down

 Mantras that Move for Kids

Choose another “I am” mantra. Example: I am Fierce (Confident, Determined, Loving, etc.)

Stand tall with legs spread wide. Stretch arms out to the side parallel to the ground and shout “I!”

Lift arms up toward the ceiling and next to your head and shout “AM!”

Slap the floor and shout “FIERCE!”

Children can also come up with their own mantra movement using this idea. Have the children choose three different movements to link together. Assign a movement to “I”, “am”, and “affirmation”. Coming up with their own movement patterns and affirmations allows for creativity and confidence. 

This exercise will raise the heart rate providing cardiovascular benefits. The deep squat during the floor slap provides strength work. This mantra movement is energetic, fun and expressive. It’s a great way to release frustration, increase energy and build confidence.

I Think I Can

Mantras that Move for Kids Mantras that Move for Kids

Make fists and pump the arms in an alternating fashion out from the chest. Imagine the arms like the wheels of a train and repeat in your head or out loud “I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN”. Pay attention to your breathing. For a challenge, add an alternating knee lift. For instance, as the right arm punches, the left knee lifts and vice versa. Children can also choose their own mantra words. 

Mantras that Move for Kids Mantras that Move for Kids

This exercise will help children release stress in a constructive way. Arm punches and high knee lifts can help work off frustration, pent up energy or negative feelings. The strong arm and leg movements help build strength. Choosing positive words to couple with the energetic movement lifts the spirit while stimulating the heart and lungs. 

Walking or Jogging Meditation

Being in nature can help clear our thoughts from the overstimulation and distraction of our day. Use a timer and send your child out for a walk or jog on their own. Before they go, ask them to think of some things that they really love about themselves or their lives. Have them repeat these thoughts to themselves while they are out on their walk or jog. Short bursts and single thoughts will work well to keep kids interested and focused. 

Example: Walk or jog for 1 minute or a single lap on a track while repeating a few self-affirming statements like “I am awesome, and I am capable of amazing things”.

This exercise will encourage kids to get up, get out and get moving. Being outside clears the mind providing the opportunity to fill it with positivity. Walking and jogging strengthens the cardiovascular system.

Steady and Strong - Visualize to Realize

The following exercises involve visualizing a steady and strong image while realizing that same feeling in the body. Begin by challenging your child to hold the following positions for 15 seconds at a time while saying out loud “I am strong. I am steady. I am sturdy”. Over time, as the child feels stronger and more confident increase the holding length by 15 seconds at a time. For an added element of fun, keep a running log of how long your child can hold these positions. Children are motivated by their own success and improvement through hard work.

Mantras that Move for Kids
Plank - Visualize a Sturdy Wooden Board, Table or Pier

Mantras that Move for Kids 
Bridge - Visualize a Sturdy Bridge Strong Enough to Withstand an 18-Wheeler Truck

Mantras that Move for Kids
Mountain - Visualize a Tall and Steady Mountain

These static positions allow children to feel sturdy in their own bodies which will lead to feelings of confidence, determination and self-worth. Children will build muscular endurance, core strength and balance.

These exercises can be completed together as a fun workout or individually as needed during stressful times. Encourage the children to have fun, mix it up and be creative in coming up with their own Mantras that Move. These exercises help children train the mind and the body leading to greater health and increased happiness. 

Deborah Bryant is a mom of three and a certified yoga teacher (RYT 500). She teaches yoga for children, adults and seniors in her home studio in Northern Virginia. Visit www.yoganow.space for more information on Deborah's classes.
 
 This article is part of our New Year's health and wellness series for kids and parents. Check out The Importance of Mom Friends {And How to Make Them} for more great tips on how to a have a healthier, happier 2019.

Tags: yoga kids mantras positive affirmations health and wellness families new year's resolutions


 

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