How To Enhance Childhood Development and Learning

Our development during the early years is influenced by neurophysiology, neurochemistry and neuroanatomy. Often the challenges with learning and behaviour can be traced back to irregularities in this neural network.

The mind and body functions through a complex interplay of many systems (including the nervous system, digestive system, visual system, auditory system, sensory-motor system, endocrine system ,vestibular system and so on) ; and there are Systematic, Scientific Yoga practices that focus on and enhance all of the above and more.

What is most exciting is that even if part of a system or brain is damaged it is possible to reroute, and activate all the supporting structures. Often we think that the mind must be used to figure something out, but the reverse is also true in that we can use our body, breath connection to awaken, heal and create new neural pathways in the mind.

Regularly teaching in schools and the Kids Classes at AWAKE Yoga Studio, I see first hand how yoga aids all levels of learning, and positively enhances children’s coping mechanisms and behaviour.

Yoga also eases numerous childhood ailments, such as asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, headaches, anxiety, autism, dyspraxia and the list goes on even to constipation ... yip all kids absolutely love - Pawanmuktasana Gas Release Pose. I know I’ve done my job when everyone has a real belly laugh.

Learning to balance and find balance not only enhances all the systems, but also builds confidence and a true sense of self. Children find that quiet space to discover themselves in a very tangible way, with grounding their feet into the earth to feel more supported. Finding a fixed point to focus on in order to easily hold balance. Lengthening and slowing down their breath, to slow their heart rate and ease their mind.

Kids Yoga Childhood Development

The Benefits of Backbends

Meeting Yourself Full Circle.

Backward bending postures turn the body out to face the world and with the expansion of the chest that comes with these heart-revealing poses, you readily and bravely face yourself.

 The expansion of the chest also encourages deep inhalations, enlivening all systems and the extroverted expression of your personality. You feel exhilarated and open to fully embrace life. *Although admittedly you may also feel slightly overwhelmed at first, and then need to simply breath through the shift of insecurities to settle into an easier version of the backbend practice, until you feel confident and comfortable to move deeper. 

 Chakrasana- wheel pose-also known as Urdhva Dhanurasana, so named as in the final expression of the pose it represents a full circle and shape of the wheel; especially when you eventually, after years of steady practice, with ease grasp your ankles with your hands. 

 The are numerous preliminary practices that help you to systematically loosen and gain more flexibility in the spine, whilst simultaneously building stability and strength in the pelvis, deep core line and limbs. 

 Start with hips-facing-forward poses, such as Anjaneyasana, Ashta Chandrasana and Parsvotanasana and then when the body is stable, add twists into the sequence with poses such as Pavritta Parsvakonasana, Pavritta Ashta Chandrasana and Pavritta Trikonasana. 

 When it comes to moving into deeper backbends, it is most useful to first choose the safest and most stable version from prone position; lying with the front body on the floor. Set yourself up in Sphinx pose and then progressively move into backbends: Bhujangasana, Naukasana, Shalabasana and Dhanurasana . 

 Seated spinal twists, further assist spinal health by stimulating the spinal nerves and developing both strength and flexibility along the back. Energy is enhanced around the navel area, Solar Plexus, and from there radiates throughout the whole body. . 

 It is important to learn to still maintain core awareness to support the back, whilst at the same time open the front body. 

 Backbends improve the functioning of the nervous, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular and glandular systems. So ‘all round’ beneficial, as the entire front body is stretched and with the heart space and thorax opened this pose enhances respiration. The lower portion of the lungs with their corresponding alveoli is opened and mucous drained. 

 The stretch in the upper part of the abdominal muscles gives a good pressure and increases blood circulation to the organs and glands for improved secretions and efficiency. 

 The legs and arms are strengthened and this pose helps tone the entire back muscles, and spinal nerves, including the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nerves, thus stimulating the neural network. Granted that the pose is done with steadiness and ease, it will help realign spinal discs. 

 Chakrasana releases tension in the neck and can further open and release any holding in the throat. As this is an inverted pose, the brain neurons are invigorated with freshly oxygenated blood improving the overall health of the mind and of the whole body.

 Key Points To Tighten Your Chakrasana into a Full Wheel Pose

·     Awareness is in relaxing the spine and attention on slow and deep breathing. 

·     Inner thighs spiraling towards midline, and attention on knees tracking parallel, whilst the armpits also grip inwards cultivating space in the back of the heartspace.

·      Ensure an equal distribution of weight through the legs and arms, whilst simultaneously activating full Pada Bandha (firm through the whole foot with a subtle lift of the inner arch) and Hasta Bandha (firm through the whole palm with a subtle lift of the inner palm). 

·     Hipbones find lift, whilst pubic bone keeps a slight weightiness to help you embrace the natural curvature of your lower back. 

·     Shoulder blades drift down the back ribs, broadening the collarbones, however still keep space and energy running between the shoulder blades. 

·     If you are comfortable and steady, strong through legs and arms, you can accentuate the flexion in the spine by progressively and carefully walking your hands and feet closer towards each other. Please do not strain, as Yoga is a practice of awareness- steadiness and ease- and not the landing of a pose. 

Chakrasana | Urdhva Dhanurasana | Wheel Pose

Chakrasana | Urdhva Dhanurasana | Wheel Pose