Many parents across the UK will be familiar with Cosmic Kids – the fun yoga workouts brought to us by husband and wife team, Jaime and Martin Amor, whose aim is to make yoga, mindfulness and relaxation fun for kids.
Cosmic Kids' YouTube channel has over 1m subscribers, with parents and children regularly tuning in to follow Jaime's story-led routines with fun themes. The couple also created an iPhone and Apple TV Cosmic Kids app.
During the first lockdown, HELLO! chatted to Jaime about the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for children. As parents homeschool their children once again, the techniques below will come in useful for calming young anxious minds.
Jaime also shares a simple yoga routine to try at home below!
What are the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for kids?
Jaime told HELLO!: "Kids love moving – they want to wriggle and jiggle and fidget. Yoga gives you these fun little shapes to try out with your body. The shapes of the poses really lend themselves to kids because they love experimenting.
"The mindfulness aspect is good because children are really tuned into their feelings – kids are kind of the epitome of mindfulness. They are all very much in the present. Mindfulness helps them gain a space between themselves and their emotions which I think ultimately leads you to grow up in a more measured and aware way."
Children doing a Cosmic Kids workout
Jaime adds that these techniques are so helpful as children cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
She says: "Now, in lockdown, it's the heartland for this kind of stuff. For kids to be in a state of acceptance and awareness of their emotions – we're not trying to get away from emotions, the hard ones are just as welcome as the good ones. They are all part of who we are as human beings."
When is the best time of day for children to practice yoga?
"Doing just 5-10 minutes a day is a wonderful thing for waking your body up or just tuning in, connecting your mind and your body together.
"As for the time of day, it depends on your feeling and every child is different. Some kids find their groove doing yoga a bit before bedtime, just to wind down and chill out. Others like to do it first thing in the morning. In school time, teachers like to often do it after the lunch break. That's a nice way of getting your focus back.
"One of the big things for kids is having autonomy, having a sense of something they can control. That's going to mean they enter into it with a lot more enthusiasm and motivation and want to get to the end of it, because they've chosen it. That's a precious thing and one of the reasons we started putting the videos online, rather than doing live classes."
Cosmic Kids' Harry Potter yoga workout
Jaime's yoga sequence for children:
Arch your back like a cat
Flick you back down
"I like to start off with a 'wake-up pose' and the Cat-Cow pose is a good one. When you arch your back like a cat then flick it down and moo like a cow, you wake your spine up which is great to do first thing in the morning as the spine always shrinks overnight."
The Dog pose
"When you come into The Dog pose, you really wake up the backs of your legs and get the blood circulating to the brain. The Cat-Cow and Dog poses together are a nice igniting, warming up sequence."
Pose like a surfer
"After The Dog, step a leg forward and wheel your arm back and come up to stand into a surfer pose. Then you're into a great, groovy, strength-building, focusing kind of vibe. This pose opens the chest and hips, using the leg muscles to tone and strengthen, focus and sharpen the mind. Do it on both sides."
Stand tall like a tree
"Balance poses like The Tree are great to help us practice staying calm in challenging circumstances. Can we find long deep peaceful breaths when we’re also a bit wobbly? Maybe we can smile or laugh too!"
The Boat pose
"Then it's nice to take it down onto the floor again – the boat pose is an absolute cracker for your tummy. If you want to make it harder, you can stretch your legs and make them long. Strength in the tummy and back means we stand tall and proud and we feel good in ourselves."
Twist your back into Mermaid pose
"The Mermaid pose twists up the spine to release white blood cells, encouraging lymphatic circulation and massaging the internal organs. It also boosts immunity. You always feel good when you've done a twist and you release out of it. Do this on both sides."
Make your legs look like a butterfly!
"When you open your hips and have mobile hips, that flexibility is great for supporting all your big muscles. Put the soles of your feet together and knees out to the side."
And relax your body
Take a minute to lie down and let your body be heavy, and sink into the floor. Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Let your mind clear and become calm."
Three mindfulness exercises for children:
The Mind Jar
"Fill up a jar with hot water and put in a couple of tablespoons of glitter glue (children need an adult to help with this bit). Give it a shake and all the glitter starts swirling around. Then as you let it sit still, all the glitter gently goes to the bottom like a snow globe.
"In that moment it's nice to imagine that all of those sparkles are like your thoughts and your feelings, and as you sit still, they settle."
"It's a way for kids to see visually, what happens to their brain if they sit calmly and still and breathe. If they ever feel themselves getting a bit frustrated or angry, they can sit down and breathe with the jar as they're calming down. It's a way of separating it from yourself as well."
The Teddy Breath
"Get a teddy and lie on your back with your teddy on your belly, not too high up. Get into slow breather and after a while, you'll see your breath has gone down to your tummy - your teddy will start lifting and lowering as you breathe in and breathe out.
"It's lovely looking down, seeing your teddy and feeling like you're lulling it to sleep, almost. It's nice to do that before bed."
Try this mindfulness exercise from Cosmic Kids
The Spaghetti Test
"This is a sweet one – you get children to see their limbs like cooked spaghetti and they need to lift a limb and wiggle it around to see how floppy it is.
"If it's all stiff, they're not cooked enough so they need to relax their limbs more. It's good for them to test out the floppiness."