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Kids need a break sometimes.So does everyone, really. But it’s super important for kids in school especially and kids who need a little extra reminder to feel calm and relax.It can also be super useful for kids who have a hard time falling asleep.
Guided imagery is one way to help kids feel calm.Guided imagery is a mindfulness meditation technique to help the listener think of something peaceful and relaxing. It is often used at the start of a longer meditation, sometimes to set up yoga nidra.For kids, it is often the whole relaxation period at the end of a yoga session (savasana), or during a short lesson on mindfulness.Mindfulness has been proven to help people start to understand how their brain works and bring it to a place of a bit more understanding and peace. It is also extremely useful for calming anxiety and allowing for a bit of space when trying to fall asleep or focus in on a specific task.
I teach my students yoga and mindfulness every day, so we are always working towards a place of Zen.But it’s definitely not a guarantee.We move and groove for at least 10-15 minutes at the beginning of the class, usually doing a Yoga Flow routine. Then we move into yoga and mindfulness centers.At the end of class, we clean up and come back to the circle for savasana. Every child lays down quietly and I set a beanie baby on their tummy for some “buddy breathing” if they are silent.(Learn about Buddy Breathing and other breathing exercises here!)But that’s not always quite enough. They can lay there and have a stuffed animal on their tummy for a few minutes and be calm. It lasts longer if they are listening to some calming music and the whole room is calm.So I have discovered that it is much more effective if they are listening to something that grabs their attention.
Guided imagery is something that helps them utilize their imagination.A story that allows them to dive into their mind, forget about whatever it is that is worrying them, and really just relax into the moment of savasana. Of feeling peaceful and mindful and in the present moment.We all want to be there; why not give it to our kiddos so that they can have that sense of peace that we so long for?So that’s what I do. I talk my kids through savasana with guided imagery or a calming story.
How do you talk kids through savasana pose?
- speak in a calm, slow, loving voice
- I tell a story or use a script of a calming metaphor (below!)
- bring their focus to specific body parts to squeeze and relax, or wiggle and be still
- gently guide them in breathing slowly in and out
- use vivid descriptors like color, smell, feelings, textures, sounds
So how do you figure out what to say?Do you read a script? Do you talk yourself through it and write it down? Do you pick a theme and then make it up on the go?Any of those are good options if you have the right intention.Helping people relax is more about your anticipated outcome than your actual words.You need to have the right tone and body language to help anyone feel calm and settled into something relaxing. Reading the perfect meditation from a paper won’t do you any good if you sound like a robot or a disbeliever.However, it is also extremely helpful to have a guided imagery script to read that gives you purpose and keeps you from rambling too much. It helps to have a theme and know your anticipated outcome.
If you are coming up with your own guided imagery stories, think about these things first:
- What place will they think of?
- How do they get there?
- Are there colors, smells, sights, feelings that you can include?
- What question are you allowing them to answer?
- How will you include breath in the mindful meditation?
- What mantra will you let them think of to end their “journey”?
Some basic themes or “plotlines” to be told are:(Many of these are inspired by the beautiful and inspiring book, A Quiet Place. It’s a great place to start when introducing kids to mindfulness and guided imagery! You definitely need it if you are just starting out teaching kids how to mindfully reflect and picture a calm place.)
- going on a forest walk
- listening to a prairie breeze
- watching a desert sunset
- a ladybug crawling
- fishing on a pond
- exploring a big cave
- watching a snowstorm
- seeing a painter brushing paint on a canvas
- filling a kindness bucket
- calmly resting in your own room