Lately I keep showing up at my daycare yoga classes to find kids wearing long johns and night shirts, clutching their teddy bears. I make my standard quip that everyone seems to have forgotten to get dressed this morning to which the kids say, “No it’s Pajama Day!”
Those who work with kids know that one way to keep things interesting is to change things up. Sometimes we do it by changing the routine, like doing everything backwards.
Sometimes we use funny voices or expressions like saying a pose is “easy peasy lemon squeezey.”
On Pajama Day you get to roll out of bed and out the door without changing.
Teach a Bedtime Yoga Routine to Help Children Sleep
Pajama Day is a great way to break out of your routine and use the silliness to incorporate teaching moments into your lesson plan. It is a perfect tie in for bedtime yoga. Here are three of my favorites bedtime yoga activities:
- Table Pose: Here’s a pose that has helped many children have a good night’s sleep. Read about one child who did it for 11 minutes then slept though the night and even slept in the next morning.
- Love it, Lose It, Look At It: Try naming these three things – Love It: Name the thing you loved most about your day and why.Lose It:Name the thing you liked the least about your day. What would you do differently next time to have a different result?Look At It: What got slightly better today? Sometimes we only look for huge changes, when really it’s the small changes that indicate things are getting better or worse. Can you find the little changes today? It’s the little actions that make or break our habits. Discuss these and consider starting a bedtime journal so children can make their own lists. Writing in a journal is a wonderful way to wind down at the end of the day.
- Foot Yoga in Bed: Here’s my most favorite. One student, who’s about to turn 16 this summer, has used this to fall asleep since she was seven years old when she learned it in our yoga class. That’s nine years! Here’s how it goes:Get in bed and get nice and comfortable under your blankets. Lie on your back (corpse pose) and start to notice your breath.Now begin to point and flex your feet in rhythm with your breath. When you inhale, flex your feet by pointing your toes to your head. When you exhale, point your toes away from your head. Continue with a relaxed breath and time your foot movement perfectly with your breath.Try silently thinking of a mantra while you flex and point. Inhale: Sat (truth) Exhale: Nam (name) or Inhale: I Am, Exhale: Peace.Continue till you fall asleep.
Lovely sleep routines like these give kids the tools to relax themselves at bedtime.
Children with Sleep Problems
There were four children in the Family Yoga Class of my Kids Yoga Teacher Training last weekend. Three of the children said they were tired when they arrived at 10 am. The same three put up their hands indicating they have trouble falling asleep.
It wasn’t a Pajama Day class, but I changed the lesson plan on the fly to teach them the Foot Yoga In Bed exercise during relaxation. The kids were so relaxed, they didn’t want to get up!
Lack of Sleep Makes Adults Groggy but Kids Hyperactive
By teaching kids how to have a good night’s sleep it’s good for everyone because adults and children respond differently to lack of sleep. Adults get groggy, children get hyperactive. Science backs up the benefits of sleep:
- 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep shows sleep helps you do all this:
- improve memory,
- live longer,
- reduce inflammation,
- spark creativity,
- get ahead at work,
- get better grades,
- relax and focus,
- lower stress,
- avoid accidents,
- decrease anxiety and depression
- a good nights sleep is proven to help balance your weight,
Kinda makes you wanna take a nap right now, doesn’t it?
With Pajama’s or regular clothing, the message is clear that children will benefit from learning yoga to help them sleep.