What number of times have your children come to you at night, often looking upset or dishevelled and saying, “I can’t go to sleep!” I used several yoga-based techniques to help my children sleep when they were young. Here are four ways that I have found to help my children fall asleep.
My now 18-year-old son, when I asked him what helped him focus and not get distracted by the many thoughts going through his mind, said.
This was a wise statement. It gets to the core of yoga.
We always learn and share the best from our experiences, so I encourage everyone to try these methods. You can discover what works for you and then add your personal touch to these techniques when you share them with your children.
What are they experiencing in their body, mind and soul?
I often start my questions with, “What does it feel? in your body?” Sometimes, nighttime restlessness can be caused by cramps and physical discomfort. My children would sometimes experience cramps in their calves during the night as they grew up. To ease the pain, I would suggest that they drink water and stretch.
Most nights, however, restless nights are caused by an overactive or distracted mind. After ensuring they were not experiencing severe pain or discomfort, I encouraged my children to examine their thoughts. I would ask them the following questions:
- What were their thoughts at one time?
- They felt like a huge ball of thoughts all tangled together.
- Or layers of thoughts, one upon the other?
- Perhaps a long list of thoughts?
Create some space
It is helpful to look at the structure of thoughts from a distance. You can even use a visual analogy to show how thoughts emerge within your mind. This helps to make space between thoughts and their power over us when we fully engage in them.
Then, I’d like to ask:
- How do these thoughts feel?
- What are the contents of your thoughts?
- Are there certain thoughts that give you certain energy?
If my children were concerned about an upcoming event, it could make their stomachs feel like it’s riding a rollercoaster.
These questions encourage kids to step back from their thoughts by encouraging them to considering these questions. They can observe how their thoughts and the energy they generate have an impact on how they feel. They may feel uneasy inside their bodies due to the energy they think. Feelings of butterflies in the stomach, tension, headaches, and sometimes even pain can all be caused by this energy.
Children may see thoughts as “things” in their minds, and they do not makeup who we are. The truth is that thoughts can only control us if we pay attention to them.
After they’d “checked in” to assess their body and mind, I suggested a few ways to calm their minds. These techniques allow them to relax and encourage them not to dwell on their thoughts. This allows them to rest in a deeper state of awareness.
Do a body scan
To help children fall asleep, there are many body scan techniques. My children were very young when we used to say “Goodnight, toes” to each part of our bodies. Goodnight feet. Goodnight legs …..” Sometimes, I would lead the process by going through each body part and saying “goodnight” as if we were going to bed. My kids would usually add their twist.
We would include the teeth, blood, and skin of the body – any part that might hold tension – and allow it to relax, rest, and go to bed. We said goodbye to the whole body and mind at the end. My children could fall asleep by then as their focus on the outside world had shifted.
This can be further modified by adding other variations, such as ‘untying’ the tension knots in each body area. You can also ‘comb’ the knots that prevent them from falling asleep peacefully. You can also add a smile or mental hug to each body part as you mention it.
Practice br breathing techniques
Many breathing techniques can be used to help children relax. These are only a few of the many that I found effective.
Gentle breath in, deep breath out
Slowly inhale and relax while lying down.
Inhale through your mouth, letting the air out slowly.
Take a deep inhale and listen to the sound your breath makes.
Inhale through your mouth. Let the front part of your body sink toward the back. You will be amazed at how they all relax in stillness.
Focus on each inhale’s sound, sensation, temperature, and frequency. Allow your body to relax and release with every exhale.
Another option is to breathe slowly for 4 and exhale through your mouth for 6. Each exhales will bring you deeper into stillness. You can adjust the ratio to make it more comfortable. You should make sure the exhale is slightly longer than the inhale. For example, 2:4 or 3;5.
This can be repeated several times to see how your child reacts.
Bumblebee savour (Bramhari pranayama).
This Bumblebee breathing method is always a favourite. It’s easy to use and has proven to be extremely effective.
Relax by lying down and inhaling comfortably. Next, exhale comfortably while keeping your mouth open. This will produce a soft, humming sound similar to a bumblebee’s gentle hum at the end of each exhale.
This can be done 3-5 times. Then, please relax and enjoy the tranquil space and stillness it creates.
Bumblebee’s breath’s soothing effects soothe the body and mind. It stimulates your vagus nerve, causing you to go into a parasympathetic mode of rest and digest.
Use sound vibrations and a mantra.
Sound vibrations are a great way to bring relaxation into your body. It helps to focus the mind and bring it into balance. These are just a few of how sound vibration has helped my children relax and fall asleep over the years.
Tibetan Singing Bowl/Chimes
The Tibetan Singing Bowl is an amazing thing to use with kids. The sound of the bowl is so soothing that I have yet to see a child not relax when they hear it. You can also use finger chimes or a deep-sounding ringing bell to make Tibetan Singing Bowl sounds.
Ask your child to lie down, and then ask them for a few deep breaths. Next, ask your child to close their eyes. Then ask them if they can ‘listen’ with their whole bodies to the sound of the bell/bowl/chimes. Ask them to listen and feel for the sound. Ask them to close their eyes until they cannot hear the sound.