I have been blessed by teaching 2 children private classes in their homes. The first is a young boy with anger management issues. We will call him Z. I am teaching him to breathe as a tool to feel in control when the world around him feels out of control. Each yoga pose we hold for a count of 10 slow breaths. This helps him to be in his body, present and calm. He does this very well. We talked about his anger and I told him that he is not an angry person, the anger is like a monster inside of him, making him lose control. But Z is the super hero who can slay the monster with his breath. But after several private lessons the breathing wasn’t helping when he was in a full blown tantrum. I asked Z to draw me a picture of his monster. What he showed me were 3 distinct drawings on a single page, each one was a different shape – a triangle, a square and a circle – they each had a made up name associated with them, and a color too – yellow, orange and red (I found it fascinating that he recognized the stages of his own anger as it grew and overpowered him). So I asked him “with which monster is your breathing NOT going to help?” And he said “The Red one.” That is right, because by the time you are that mad, you have lost the game and the monster wins. “Where could your breath really help?” and he pointed to the Yellow monster. Yes, at the moment you start to feel overwhelmed, that things aren’t going your way, start to breathe. As you breathe in squeeze your hands shut and when you breathe out open your hands and keep breathing in and out with your hands until you, the super hero Z can slay the Yellow monster and win the game. Because, I told him that when he gets that Red monster angry he never gets what he wants but if he can overcome his anger he just might get what he wants, but even if he doesn’t, he still won the battle with the angry monsters and he can feel like the SUPER super hero that I know he can be.
The second student is a little girl just 5 years old who we will call C. C has anxiety which I am determining from my own experience with a daughter with Asperger’s that she has early signs of Sensory Integration Disorder. Certain clothing feels funny, she has a tendency towards perfectionism and she is easily overwhelmed. So, again, we began classes where each pose is held for 10 slow breaths. For an active little girl, I was pleased to see her so calm on the mat, breathing her breaths her eyes closed while in the yoga pose. I also am using the mantra that her breathing is a tool to help her feel in control when the world around her feels out of control. In some ways having that one on one, concentrated focus on one activity seemed to be a relief to her. She really enjoyed the tensing and releasing at the end as we went into deep relaxation or yoga nidra. For C, I am asking her to use a “stop sign” as her tool for anxiety. As she begins to feel overwhelmed she can put up a hand and verbalize that she needs a moment. This lets her care takers know what is happening inside of her, that she feels she can’t keep up, that the situation is going too fast and she is asking for help. I asked her parents to also use the “stop sign” as a tool for the whole family to slow down and take a calmer pace especially during more stressful times of the day like getting ready for school. Not to mention, that for C, this is a way for her take control of the situation and of her body. Breathing to calm down and reconnect to her body while having the adults in her life know that she needs a break in order to catch up.
I share these 2 client stories with you because we can learn from them how to better be in this world. A slower pace, a calmer approach, releasing the urge to push and rush. And if we have children, to recognize the influence our behavior has on their well being. Take time in your day for everyone to relax and hang out with no organized activities, just chilling out. But when life is happening and a lot is going on don’t forget the “Stop Sign”. Breathe.Breathe. Breathe. Slow down and give yourself or your kids a hug and slow down.
With Much Love and Gratitude for All Children,