As my niece climbs into bed and wriggles down into the quilt after a quick search for Lucy (the bunny), she closes her eyes and says ‘OK, lie down and close your eyes, with your palms up’, then opens her eyes and giggles at me. I am used to her requests for one of my yoga nidras – it’s become the bed time story of choice! The mocking however, is new…
Yoga Nidra translates roughly to yoga sleep, it is a state of consciousness all of its own. That place between awake and asleep, where you’re floating seemingly between worlds, a place where you can access whole different levels of relaxation, access better sleep and even unleash your creativity.
Although Yoga Nidra is not just a bed time tool, in fact I often take Nidra breaks in the middle of the day (and that’s not just a fancy nap), however, after discovering that it worked wonders with my niece and nephew at bed time, I recorded one for them and shared it with a few of my friends who’s children loved it, some who have had trouble calming down generally and we were pleasantly surprised that it worked for them too – so there’s got to be something in this?
As mindfulness tools and meditation are ever growing in popularity, different styles and techniques and apps making it more accessible all the time and we see it moving into schools, we are looking at some of the reasons that Yoga Nidra should be incorporated into our lives, but specifically, the lives of our children.
So, why should you be using Yoga Nidra for your children at bed time?
- Reduce stress, anxiety and depression as Yoga Nidra works on calming the nervous system
- Decrease insomnia and sleep disturbances as we access that deeper level of relaxation, training the brain to ‘surf’ that waking state, finding the bit in between, making it easier to drift back to deeper sleep
- Improve interpersonal relations by focusing on feelings of love, compassion and developing an understanding and awareness of their mind and body
- Increase confidence, self worth and joy by working with affirmations
- Promote a greater sense of peace and wellbeing by working with the observation of their state of mind
- Make the space comfortable, cosy and free from distraction, no screens if possible! (If you are using a recording on your phone, perhaps turn the screen brightness right down)
- Get your little one to put their hands on their belly and practice breathing there – belly breathing is magic for little ones and big ones!
- Body parts – keep it simple, there is no need to break down the limbs into separate parts so work from the head or the heart (my favourite place to start) and go for arms, hands, fingers, heart, belly button, legs, feet and tippy toes!
- Colour / stars – this is the next level, go back around the body but this time using the breath and/or the body parts – imagine filling the body with their favourite colour, or as you say each part a bright star appears there and at the end, they are made up completely of stars, let them use their imagination
- Ending – either encourage to drift off to sleep with suggestions such as a feeling of heaviness, comfort, safe, warmth and love or take a great big stretch with arms above the head from the tips of the fingers to the tips of toes and sit up, ready to take on the rest of the day!
If you don’t want to use a recorded Nidra then get creative! Mine have had dragons, space exploration, safari adventures and all sorts, it’s good for us to get into our creative side too. Plus wait until you see their faces when they realise you’re telling a story straight from your own imagination, it’s like magic!