My earliest memory of being a total stressball happened the summer before 6th grade. It was that awkward time in my life where I had to wear training bras and my family had just returned from the happiest place on earth, DisneyWorld. Because puberty wasn't going to be enough to test my coping skills my parents also decided to throw their divorce into the mix. I was pissed. With my tense shoulders I started a rebellious stage that would last for years (okay still working on it decades later). I withheld some of that anger well into my 30s and found all kinds of unhealthy ways to keep it inside. My saving grace personally has been finding yoga in addition to my massage therapist. Kevin has been working on me since my mid 20s when I used to run marathons for fun. He tells me that 85% of his clients have breathing disorders due to stress and overstimulation. What?! I thought I was his special challenge client, but not the case. Because of stress, anxiety, poor sleep, poor diet, and overstimulation people are not breathing correctly. Another big cause is holding onto resentment and anger.
In my early 30s I was sitting in a workshop with the amazing Max Strom and we ended with a visualization where we had to picture a time in childhood when we were hurt and our adult selves got to pick up our younger selves, hug them and let them know everything was going to be okay. Bawling, crying like never before...I was a mess. No idea I had that much sadness and anger inside of me to let out! I walked out of that workshop lighter, happier and naturally breathing. Is divorce the worst? We aren't here to judge that. Life happens and with it comes struggle which looks different for all of us. I could keep going about my ongoing journey to keep my breathing in check but that would be a total snoozefest. This is about preventing those breathing disorders as much as possible in our little yogis. I've felt tense temples on toddlers at the end of yoga class enough to be passionate about this subject.
So here's a little DIY breathing activity for the whole family. Grab an eye pillow, sandbag or small pillow and place it on your child's belly. Tell her to give her pillow a ride up and down slowly using her breath. The extra weight will make her expand her lungs a little bit further than without the slight pressure. Use a timer or play a song and cover her eyes during the "belly ride" and feel free to join in if you can!