Yoga Calm® International

Mindfulness and Movement can translate into any culture.

After participating in a 1000 Petals retreat to Peru, I knew I needed to return. When I decided to set off for 6 months in Cusco, I wanted to bring Yoga Calm® to the community. As Yoga Calm’s Certification Instructor and Online Course Manager, I set off to connect with various local organizations doing amazing, empowering work with youth.

Yoga is not a typical activity in Peru. Many of the youth and families had never tried, or even heard of, yoga. There was certainly some shyness and trepidation at first, but that quickly melted away. It was an honor to share my knowledge with organizations and families.

I am amazed how easily this work translates into any culture. Here in the United States many of our educators work with cross-cultural or English Language Leaner groups. These strategies work great because of their physical, non-verbal foundation.

I had the pleasure of volunteering with two organizations for girls:

Girl Sport Works

GirlSportWorks’ mission is to teach life skills to girls through athletics. We help our students develop leadership, self-confidence, communications, team skills, and healthy living practices, allowing them to realize their physical and mental capabilities as females and as members of the community.

The great thing about starting with Belly Breathing is that the Hoberman Sphere is such a visual tool, very little language or instruction is needed. After some practice, the girls were eager to practice leading their peers and giving each other compliments.

Hoberman Sphere Breathing in Peru

We also had fun getting our bodies up and moving with Warrior Pose (Guerrera!) and Tree Pose. We built community with Tree Circle, which is always a great representation for supporting each other. Then, our session ended with a relaxation. The leader even remarked, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen them all sitting silently at the same time like that!”

Peruvian Hearts

Peruvian Hearts works to end poverty and gender inequality by educating young women and creating community leaders in Peru—one girl at a time. Peruvian-born Ana Dodson developed this nonprofit organization to enable young women to embrace education, believe in their own power, and dream of a life beyond the conditions into which they were born.

The Peruvian Hearts ladies, ages 13-18, have support to improve overall quality of life. The heart, mind and body message of Yoga Calm really translated into the community.

Tree Circle and Tree Challenge resonated with the girls as they explained how important community is for challenging each other and also supporting each other. A routine of the group is to share one piece of gratitude. I incorporated this into our relaxation time. Many of the girls shared that they were thankful for yoga. Some of the older students shared that they could imagine times when the skills they were learning would be helpful. The Peruvian Hearts’ Psychologist said she will continue to use the techniques to address stress in their lives.

Peruvian Hearts Yoga

I am very fortunate for this experience and grateful that I was able to share some of my Yoga Calm passion. Have you been able to share these strategies? What experiences do you have cross culturally? Leave a comment!

Written By,
Leah Shulyer

Yoga in Peru

Leah Shuyler, MA, NCC, LPC, is Yoga Calm’s Certification Instructor and Online Course Manager. She has a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and a specialty in ecopsychology. As a Certified Yoga Calm Youth Instructor, Leah has been integrating ecopsychology principles and activities into the program. She and Lynea Gillen are co-authors of Love, Knowledge and Action: Fostering Environmental Stewardship, to be published in 2017.

High School Students and Move Mindfully®

How can all high school students receive mindfulness and movement strategies?

A high school day is busy. Accounting for transition, attendance and directions, each content area teacher does not have much extra time. It is hard to ask one department to carve out time within an already standard packed 55 minute class period.

Morning announcements the are perfect opportunity for daily mindfulness and movement. We use Mindful Mondays within the framework of our school wide announcements. Here are four reasons why morning announcements turned out to be the perfect tier one intervention.

mindfulness in morning announcements

Live Interaction

With live announcements we can see a video feed in real time. Students can interact with the hosts and use the strategies as they are being modeled. We brought in Hoberman Spheres, glitter balls, chimes and anything else we could incorporate into a mindful practice. Our anchors were able to move around and visually demonstrate. Teachers were not responsible for direct teaching. We were also able to standardize our protocol and create a common language around the school wide messaging. 

Hoberman sphere

Student Leaders

If you teach, or know, a high schooler you understand the power of peers. Peer influence can be a force in changing behaviors. In order for the students to buy into mindfulness, we were certain that the teaching needed to be student led. We train our anchors in the new practice for the week and then they share it with the rest of the school.

glitter ball

Strong Beginnings

Dedicating  Monday mornings to mindfulness positively influences the direction of the week. The Move Mindfully® strategies set the tone for the week to be positive and productive. Students are also beginning to transfer these activities to a variety of situations throughout the school day. 

hand tracing

Teacher Wellness

This work not only impacts our student wellness, but our teacher wellness as well. We know that a healthy staff means healthy classrooms. Our Mindful Monday announcements allow for staff to receive the impact of these strategies. They also can implement and reinforce this work in their classes throughout the week. The techniques are also applicable for their own self care. Read my other blog post about getting your staff on board!

teacher wellness

Mindfulness no longer feels like another school initiative. Rather, it is how we collectively start off the week and build resiliency and community. See our highlight reel here.

What strategies do you use to bring mindfulness and movement to a tier one intervention? Have you tried using the platform of morning announcements? Leave a comment!

Written By, Tanya Holub

 

 

 

Hoberman Sphere breathing used with permission from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum

Safety Coordinators and Move Mindfully®

How do we take staff wellness into consideration while also preparing and planning for active shooter drills?

In the wake of shootings threatening the safety of our students during the school day, many districts have taken a proactive approach that includes active shooter drills. While the protocol looks different at each site, some districts are partnering with local law enforcement to create a rather realistic scenario for teachers to practice. This can include discharging firearms (blank rounds) within the school building to prepare staff for the expected noise.

Our Move Mindfully® team has worked with administrators, safety coordinators and law enforcement to create some simple strategies that can help to mitigate the surge of stress hormones on the nervous system during these events.

The following document is available for you to print, share and implement. Email the PDF to staff, print and hang in the staff lounge or share with administration.

Active Shooter Drills for Staff Using Move Mindfully®

active shooter drills

 

Also, read our blog Tips for Students During Lockdown Drills about using similar strategies with your students.

child's pose during a lockdown drill

Looking to explain the stress response in greater detail? This document on the Somatic Response offers a script perfect for teaching adults or children.

head on desk during active shooter drills

What strategies has your building implemented to address staff and student wellness during lockdown or active shooter drills? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Trauma Informed and Move Mindfully®

Mindfulness practices meet the needs of every body. Our trauma informed approach is rooted in choice.

People sometimes ask: Is mindfulness suited for all children? What about children who have experienced trauma or have mental health needs?

Here is how the dictionary defines mindfulness:

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Our Move Mindfully®  sessions allow present moment awareness to create a place where restoration and rest is possible.

Here is how mindfulness, and choice, are woven into each stage of a Move Mindfully session:

1. Breathing

breath work with move mindfully®

We always begin with simple breathwork, most commonly  belly breathing, to prepare to heart, mind and body.  Students act as leaders and choose number of breaths, usually between 5-10. Instructors can also offer releasing breathing techniques like pinwheel breathing. Bringing attention to breath is the best way to foster present moment awareness.

2. Movement

Movement for all bodiesOur instructors use the Move Mindfully® Card Deck to guide students through a variety of body positions. Introducing accessible movements first, like starting in a chair or seated is a great way to encourage all ability levels to join. Next, movements like forward folds and balancing positions help regulate the body and foster a sense of safety and stability. Offering variations for more challenging movements builds in the element of choice. For example, Eagle can be accessed on the floor (pictured), in a chair or using just arms. Through this process we are deliberately activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest functions, and preparing the body for the final relaxation/integration.  

 

3. Rest

After moving the body, relaxation integrates physical, emotional and cognitive experiences. However, this can be the hardest component of the practice. Stillness and quiet can be challenging, especially for students dealing with trauma. A relaxed state can look different for every body. We use sensory cues, such as hearing the sounds in the room or feeling the ground, to make being still and quite a bit more comfortable. Students can choose to leave eyes open, which may feel safer, and take in the visual stimuli.

We often start with progressive relaxation, tensing one part of the body at a time and then releasing it. This helps students experience relaxation while still feeling a sense of control and staying present. Also, offering different body positions (pictured) or various activities such as mindful eating, walking, music, art or storytelling can make the experience comfortable for everyone.

Choice in final rest

Transforming Trauma

Part of teaching through a trauma-informed lens means that instructors must be constantly watching/observing  how each student is responding to the practice. Mindfulness simply anchors us to the here and now. Youth can move out of past depression and the anxieties of the future. We help students find ways to connect these strategies outside of class and into their everyday lives. Learn more and go deeper with Kathy Flaminio and Lynea Gillen’s Transforming Childhood Trauma Online Course.

When working with youth that have experienced trauma, we emphasize that while we don’t always have control over what is happening around us, we do have choice in how we respond. This is why mindfulness instruction is important for all students. Choosing our response is where our freedom resides.

Have you had a positive experience with mindfulness and trauma informed practices? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly and the 1000 Petals Team

Occupational Therapists and Move Mindfully®

Occupational Therapists support our youth to fully participate in actives required for daily life and learning.

This blog post addresses sensory integration goals written and performed by Occupational Therapists. However, all youth can benefit from sensory integration awareness.

Sensory integration exposes children to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive way. In this blog post we break down how certain yoga based movements can be utilized, and we are offering a free download of three poses from the Move Mindfully® Card Deck to get you started with a simple routine.  Read on to learn more about each pose and how it relates to your Occupational Therapy goals.

Belly Breathing

Getting into the Pose:

Belly Breathing is often taught with the Hoberman Sphere. The brightly colored, collapsible tool offers a visual tracking point to feel the diaphragm expand and contract. If you do not have a ball, try modeling hands placed at heart and belly. To start, we recommend a seated position in a chair, for back support. As a modification, youth may prefer to lay on the floor on their backs. In this position, try a small object or toy placed on the belly for extra visualization of the up and down movement.

Therapy Resource:

Belly breathing is a great way to work on postural stability while maintaining an upright position without a collapsed trunk or slouched shoulders. This pose also taps into interoception and body awareness as breathing is tracked.

More on Belly Breathing

Tree Pose

Getting Into the Pose:

Tree Pose is an introductory balancing pose that all body abilities can enjoy. We start by cueing the heel to touch the ankle. From here, you can cue the leg higher, resting the foot on the calf or thigh. (Just make sure to avoid any pressure on the knee joint.) The hands press together at midline, palm to palm, providing additional input.

Therapy Resource:

Like belly breathing, this pose works postural stability through core activation in a static hold. It also works on bilateral coordination as hands and feet press towards midline while maintaining balance and focus. The stacking of joints over the anchored foot (ankles, hips, wrists) taps into the proprioceptive system. We like offering students that option to stamp their feet before getting into the pose. Activate the vestibular system by experimenting with the foot and hand placement. Add in a small movement, like swaying, by pretending a wind comes by and makes the branches sway! Work on vision by providing various focal points experimenting with gaze up, out, down and even eyes closed. If you see the MORO Reflex in this pose, return to Belly Breathing.

More on Tree Pose

Child’s Pose

Getting Into the Pose:

We love using child’s pose as a transition at the beginning or the end of a session. Also, the benefits of this pose can be utilized throughout a session any time there is a need to decrease stimulation. We will often use the Head on Desk version (pictured left), but youth can also find traditional child’s pose on the floor.

Therapy Resource:

As you cue stacked fists, you are working on bilateral coordination and proprioception as joints are stacked together at midline. On the floor, there is the additional tactile input from the legs and arms on the Earth. Youth needing extra input can include movement and rock back and forth. Youth avoiders can stay more upright and simply lower their chins. Offer a vestibular system modification of seating in a chair, hands stacked on forehead and chin slightly tucked.

More on Child’s Pose

Have you used the poses from the Move Mindfully® Card Deck into your work with sensory integration? Leave a Comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Special thanks to Johanna and Katie from Ka’Hanna Health and Wellness for their collaboration. Ka’Hanna Health and Wellness is a company providing resources for occupational therapy, physical therapy, mental health practitioners, classroom teachers, yoga teachers, professionals, parents, and others in the community to use with individuals who can be found seeking and/or avoiding yoga activities.

Adolescents and Move Mindfully®

How can we help our children navigate life’s challenges and joys?

The stereotype of who can “do yoga” is drastically changing. Yoga is for everybody and every body! From NFL players sweating it out during hot yoga to classically trained ballet dancers adding yoga into their routine, the physical benefits of yoga are universally accepted. These images help solidify the belief that this movement is accessible for all bodies and all genders! However, yoga is not just a physical practice. I believe that these movements are the starting point for emotional and social well being.

Providing a non-verbal pathway to social emotional learning can be incredibly powerful tool. Teachers are amazed in the Move Mindfully® Residency that preteen students take the curriculum so seriously. They are excited to be leaders and engage with the material. However, it is not only the teachers who are noticing these changes. Parents are also providing overwhelmingly positive feedback. The below quotes are from parents of third grade boys.

Here are reasons why you should consider these practices for adolescents of all genders.

Healthy Expression of Big Emotions

“It has been great to see my son be able to calm and center himself when needed using deep breathing. It helps him find focus during times that might otherwise lead to escalation and a meltdown.”

“He’s able to walk away when he gets worked up, breathe through his emotions, and come back much clearer and with action items.”

“He has used breathing techniques and yoga poses when he feels tension to control the stressful moment.”

boys being mindful

Reduction in Anxiety 

“Every student needs anxiety management tools every now and then. I hope learning these techniques this year will give him a leg up in that regard that he can rely on for years to come.”

“My son’s anxiety levels have significantly decreased over the course of this school year. I’d say his most used tactic is breathing and getting himself centered.”

“I frequently catch my son closing his eyes and practice deep breathing skills. It’s  taught him to relax when he’s feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.”

“My son has learned the impact of his breath and how it affects both his body and mind. That the breath can control anxiety.”

“Since learning how a mindfulness practice in the classroom, he falls asleep more quickly at night.”

forward folds in class

Bringing Together Families 

“My son has taught us techniques to keep calm and to have good control over your attention during the present moment. Witnessing him slow down and use mindfulness is quite amazing to see as a parent.”

“It’s great having a partner to practice yoga with also!”

Increase in Motivation and Optimism 

“He has had his most successful year in school and enjoys going more than ever. I believe very strongly that this has to do with what he has learned!”

“Teaching kids at a young age to implement this into their life growing into adults, has so many positive benefits!”

boys in yoga studio

What results have you seen with yoga and boys? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Teachers and Move Mindfully®

You are the intervention.

yoga on the beach

“Teaching is not what it used to be,” says a 40-year veteran teacher. It’s hard to pin point exactly what the changes are or where they are coming from. However, I think most teachers can agree that things are increasingly more… stressful.

Passing other staff in the hallway, an appropriate greeting now consists of a grunt or at best, “It’s Friday.” Conversations in the staff lounge center around the uncertainties and anxiety facing our teaching profession from the greater political cultural climate. While technology and innovation have considerable benefits, the new skills and information we are expected to personally process and then apply to our instruction, has teachers feeling like hamsters on a wheel. Not to mention the data! Teacher performance is being continually monitored and tracked by standardized testing.

As I sit at my back table, administering a reading test, I look up and see the little girl sitting in front of me. Except, I see her-seeing me. Hunched shoulders. Furrowed brows. Clenched jaw. My body communicates what my brain can’t fully comprehend. I am stressed. Much to my surprise and horror… her body language was matching mine. She was mirroring me.

This realization hit me hard. I noticed students all around exhibiting stress signals. Hiding under tables. Making excuses to leave the classroom and wander the halls. Destroying classroom supplies. These behaviors were symptoms of emotional turmoil, and it was standing in the way of students achieving their academic potential.

Now, I know that many of these issues are complex and multilayered. I am by no means blaming teachers for the  dysregulation in the classroom. However, the first step to an emotionally regulated classroom is to be emotionally regulated yourself.  It is imperative that we bring the body into our work.

YOU are the intervention

The good news is, even if your brain is not yet convinced, you can begin with your body.

Here are three tips to get started.

1. Set an intention for yourself and your classroom

Before you get out of bed, think about how you want to show up today. Words like- strong, healthy, at ease, organized, or peaceful. Imagine what it looks like and feels like. Now imagine the one thing that would make your classroom great today. This intention could be, “students working well together in pairs” or “the excitement for a new project.” Visualize and move to the feeling place of these intentions then write them down. I have found that writing an intention down and visualizing the outcome takes less than a minute. However, most days, this fortune actually comes to fruition. A worthy time investment.

2. Take a breathing break

Teachers never stop. Heck, we usually don’t even slow down. I have seen teachers eating their lunch while walking down the hallway! During your prep, your lunch, transitions between classes… intentionally take 5–10 breaths. Inhale for 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts. I even like to close my eyes and bring back my intention from the morning. For an added stress relief, cup your hands and inhale our Move Mindfully® Essential Oil Blend.

3. Unwind your nervous system

Good ol’ fight or flight. Your body doesn’t know if you are running away from a hungry predator or if you are preparing to be observed by your principal. All it knows, is it’s time to send in the stress hormones! Your frontal cortex can’t talk its way out of this response. “Body, I am not being chased by a predator, it’s just my annual observation.” However, there are key trigger points in the body that activate when the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This means, if we can release the body throughout the day, the brain will believe that everything is okay.

Jaw:

Place feet flat on the floor and sit up nice and tall. Inhale breath and when you exhale stick out your tongue. For added effect add a nice long “hah” sound. I even like to massage the opening that is created next to my ears while my jaw is open.

Eyes:

Rub your hands together to create heat and place them on your eyes. And/or gently smooth out the brow line from center to outer eye, say to yourself “soft eyes”. (Yes, unfurrow that teacher brow.)

Shoulders:

Interlace fingers behind your back for a chest expansion and take three slow deep breaths. Teachers spend a great deal of time hunched over students, and simply opening the shoulders can be a total mood changer.

Hip Flexors:

Lunge back with right foot and left foot forward in a bent knee lunge, take a few breaths, then switch sides. Your hip flexors and psoas are your flight muscles, so release them!

Share this information with our handout on the Somatic Response.

Daily Routines

I began to realize that same little girl, mirroring my furrowed brow and hunched shoulders, began to mirror my deep breathing. When doing a backbend stretch during a transition she commented, “It feels good to stretch, doesn’t it?” Yes. It does.

When we release the tension and anxiety held in the body, we are able to be present. The present moment is our freedom. This intervention for your body is an important first step for creating a peaceful classroom for your students.

As I began implementing these daily routines, I noticed other things around me begin to shift. Feeling overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing. I changed my focus and redefined what was important and started to pay attention on how I was bringing my body to work.

Have you tried any self interventions? What has worked? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

move mindfully® in the classroom

Students and Move Mindfully®

This isn’t one more thing… it is the thing.

This week, our team has turned the tables and asked our youth to write testimonials. What do our students think of this work? Here are the words of third graders. Enjoy!

Mangus

Mindfulness is important for many things, especially school. When you’re listening to directions you have to focus on who is talking. One way I practice mindfulness is through focusing on yoga poses. In order to be present you have to be mindful of what you are doing. I stay calm. I can appreciate the world around me. Have you ever watched a snowflake fall to the ground? – Magnus

Rory

In our class we practice yoga, use the breathing ball and relaxation station. First, yoga helps me focus on what I am trying to do. My favorite yoga pose is the tree pose because it helps me calm down and listen. Using the breathing ball helps me stay grounded after moments of craziness. I like to visit the relaxation station at times when I feel off. I get to put on headphones, use the breathing ball, look at rocks and lay down with blankets and pillows. It is a gift to have such focus and calmness together. Find your power, your rhythm and your worries disappear! – Rory

Mackenzie

Yoga has helped me be a calmer person. For example if I get frustrated I will take five deep breaths and feel better. Being mindful when you eat can be quite interesting. It is amazing how being calm can make you see things in a different way. When I’m grounded my feet are flat on the floor and my hands get heavy. Being grounded can help me stay focused and relaxed. For example if there is a big test or something big coming up that I would get nervous for, being grounded takes away that nervousness. – Mackenzie

Ashley

In our class we have worked on mindfulness activities. Our minds should be on what we’re doing, not what we are going to do or what we did. Keep your mind in the present. Forward folds helped me stay positive. I use forward fold when I feel like the whole world is depending on me. I know that everybody could use this one little thing. – Ashley

This isn’t one more thing… it is THE thing. We owe it to our children. Are you ready to get started? Visit our store for the Move Mindfully® Starter Kit products and our Teachers Pay Teachers site for the online content.

Do you have a short anecdote to share? Please leave a comment.

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Early Childhood and Move Mindfully®

Can Early Childhood students participate in Mindful Movement? Absolutely.

People are often surprised when I tell them that I teach breathing, mindfulness and movement to children as young as one year old on a weekly basis. Even Early Educators have a hard time imagining how these techniques translate into Pre-K environments. My experience has been that these practices really resonate with young children and that the nature of body work is quite easy for them to master due to limited need for language and explanation.

Here are some tips and tricks that help when teaching breathing, mindfulness and movement with children five and under.

Routine, Routine, Routine:

No matter what age group we are teaching, routine and structure always create a feeling of safety and competency. Start with a breathing technique. Try Belly Breathing with the hoberman sphere  as a great place to start. Also try Smell the Flower, Blow out the Candle. This is done by breathing in through nose while pretending to smell a flower, breathing out through mouth pretending to blow out a candle.

Incorporate a mindfulness activity, like ringing the chime for everyone to listen to or just asking children to sit for a moment to listen for all the sounds that they hear. Then pick the movement or two from the Move Mindfully® Card Deck. Finally, end with some more breathing and a brief story to tie it all together.

bridge pose

Less is More:

We all have a tendency to want to teach a wide variety of practices and poses. The variety comes from what we are emphasizing in the poses. We might practice Tree Pose almost every time we work with a toddler group. But some days we focus on keeping our Trees strong and tall. On other days, we try to find stillness in Tree. Sometimes we hold hands to feel what it is like to give and receive support to our friends. Just like keeping a routine, using the same poses day to day help children feel competent and confident. Typically, when starting out, we want a lesson for Early Ed to be no longer than 15-20 minutes in duration.

tree pose
Embrace and Adapt:

We might come into a group of preschoolers with a well-laid out lesson plan focused on balance poses (Tree, Eagle) but are welcomed by a group of high energy, busy bodies. Our job is to meet children where they are at on any given day. We might have to start with more movement and then ease our way into more focused activities. It’s not always best to start with calming breaths. Sometimes we need to start with Arm Swings or a releasing breath before we can move into breathing with the hoberman sphere. Sometimes the best lessons we teach are the ones we are led to by the children.

hearts and love
Be OK with Behavior:

No matter what age we are teaching, behaviors like being unable to sit still, talking or giggling, or even not participating at all, can be indicators that children are uncomfortable with quiet and stillness. This oftentimes is not bad behavior, but actually a defense mechanism for self-protection. The more we allow children to have space to stay in the lesson (as long as they are not disrupting others) the more we allow children to move from uncomfortableness into a new way of being. A child might come in and out of participation over and over again until they finally stay engaged for the duration. Just like in our adult practices, the student knows better than the teacher about what works for them. Honoring children’s ability to show up to the best of their ability on any given day should always be our goal. If a child is being disruptive to others, having a teacher sit with them and offer encouragement can help them stay in the lesson. Other times, we may simply offer for them to sit on their mat or rest in Child’s Pose until they are ready to participate.

Compliment the Good:

We all know how great it feels to be told we are doing a good job. Call out all good behavior – especially for the children that are having a more challenging time. Encourage children to compliment each other by using student leaders and asking for peer compliments each time they lead. Not only will this build class community but more importantly it reinforces positive self-concept and self-talk.

Have Fun!

The best part of teaching this age group is that it is FUN! Be playful, laugh and listen – some of the best teaching and insights will come from the children.

One final note on this age group – always end with a final relaxation. Even if it is only 2-3 minutes long, get the children lying down and place a beanie baby on their belly. They can breathe deeply into their belly and watch their animal rise and fall with their breath. You can also try using a puppet to demonstrate deep, relaxing breathing. Read or tell a story that fits with the lesson from that day. This time for reflection at the end of the lesson will become the children’s favorite part of your time together. Children are constantly asking “When is final story?’ because it feels so good to take that time for rest.

Check out this video to see a lesson in action!

We hope you enjoy bringing these practices to our littlest friends! Please share a comment about what you are doing in your Early Ed environments with this work – we’d love to hear from you!

 

Be Well, 

Chrissy Mignogna

Mindful Family Vacations

Staying mindful with your family, you can get more out of family travel than you ever thought possible!

Are you planning a vacation or short get away? It is important to stay mindful to the experience. Encouraging family bonding and creating lasting memories are just two of the many benefits of family travel. Here are a few simple ways to work mindfulness into your next family trip.

Redefine what “travel” means for your family.

While a week at the beach or an adventure in Costa Rica are awesome family travel experiences, even quick weekends away, whether you’re camping, skiing or visiting friends and family, also count as a family trip.

In fact, frequent and shorter breaks recharge the mind and body more effectively throughout the year than a single long break. Why? Research suggests that anticipation correlates with more intense and satisfying emotions than remembering the past. Begin to anticipate even small and local family adventures and you’ll reap the benefits of travel.

Some ways to do this include letting your children help pack, do grocery shopping and plan some of the smaller activities on family trips. Getting children involved is the easiest way to help them begin to anticipate family connectedness and benefit from this anticipation.

Plan to Get Active

While movement and physical activities are just plain good for you from a health perspective, getting active together as a family is also a way to stay mindfully connected. It’s difficult to be distracted by outside thoughts when you’re skiing a black diamond ski run with your kids, taking a family surf lesson or zip lining through the jungle in Central America!


These activities will help you connect via a shared mutual experience while eliminating distractions so you can better connect and enjoy travel time with your family. Staying in the present moment is key to fulling appreciating the experience.

Just Listen.

Family travel offers a unique opportunity to just listen deeply to your family without judgment or distractions. Perhaps these conversations happen while sitting on a flight or while waiting for dinner to be served. Be curious, ask questions, and stay engaged without letting your attention drift. There are plenty of opportunities to just have a conversation while you’re traveling as a family.

Also, creating space and time to tune into yourself can have a huge impact. Use plane rides or “no-service” cell phone areas as an opportunity for stillness and mindfulness practice. Need some guidance? Download these tracks to guide you. Including items such as a book or journal can help encourage moments of self-reflection.

Investing in family travel is so much more than just stamps in a passport. By removing your family from the daily grind and making a commitment to stay present and experience new destinations and activities together, your time spent traveling together as a family will be meaningful and incredibly rewarding.

And remember, you don’t need to get on an airplane in order to have a meaningful and mindful family travel experience. A day spent hiking with a picnic lunch can be equally as memorable and impactful for your family! Spending time together and staying present is what matters most.


How do you incorporate mindfulness into travel? Please leave a comment!

Sarah Fazendin is a family travel designer, specializing in family trips to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Learn more about planning your perfect family vacation at A Family Travel Blog and contact Sarah at sarah@afamilytravelblog.com.