The Manipura Chakra is located around the abdomen and is third in the series. This area is where self esteem and willpower come from. Often you’ll hear people say that the stomach is the second brain and this chakra is directly related to that idea. It is in charge of metabolism and digestion and therefore, transformation in many other ways.
1. The color yellow is connected to this chakra.
2. It’s associated with the stomach and other digestive organs like the spleen and gall bladder.
3. The mantra to help balance this chakra is Ram; say it out loud.
4. Yellow foods help to balance Manipura, like bananas, yellow peppers, squash, and complex carbs.
5. When there is an imbalance in this chakra the body will experience a variety of stomach troubles, ulcers, and lack of confidence.
6. If your Manipura chakra is overstimulated it can result in feelings of anger and hatred, as well as a desire to control people and situations.
7. Poses to help balance this chakra are: boat, as well as any abdominal work, sun salutations, twists of any kind, and the warrior series. If this chakra is too strong, backbends are a good counter to ease the energy.
Finding balance in this chakra will bring vitality to your entire body. “20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life…” according to nationaleatingdisorders.org. In adolescents eating disorders and conditions like IBS are prevalent. Developing a strong abdomen is a good way to build strength throughout the body and help the organs get stronger as well.
Our YogiDance symbol resembles this chakra because of it’s importance in the whole of life. When this area suffers, it can affect others areas of our body and life.
With kids it is fun to pretend they are rowing a boat; try to make a habit of doing this with them every day to build strength in their core. Being mindful of staying away from processed foods, sugar, and just about everything in the freezer section of the store will help to build strong healthy bodies!
“Take a deep belly breath” I tell the kids in my classes. One of the most important aspects of kids yoga is teaching children breath awareness. Belly breathing is really just diaphragmatic breathing – where your diaphragm muscle contracts in order to get the maximum benefit from each breath taken. According to a study done by Kajander and Peper, Newborns naturally breathe diaphragmatically. Then around age 10, children change to a shallow thoracic breathing pattern. If we are born breathing diaphragmatically, then it is the natural state we should maintain.
Teaching children to practice diaphragmatic breathing can help enhance their mind and body. Among many, here are a few of the benefits: it oxygenates the muscles, enhances stamina and can increase metabolism. Breathing is linked to mood and studies have shown that full, relaxed breathing correlates to a relaxed, healthy state of mind. On the other hand, according to Peper’s studies, “Thoracic breathing can cause dyspnea, fatigue, irritation, headaches, increased muscle tension in the upper chest as well as increased feelings of anxiety and panic.”
Breath awareness is a powerful tool for a child to learn. Breathing activities done when upset, anxious, nervous, or any other state of mind that is not natural may ease a child’s mood. According to Kajander and Peper, “In a survey of children who participated in a biofeedback program for a variety of psychophysiologic disorders, 80% identified ‘that breathing stuff’ as the component of the training that they used most and retained longest.”
You and your child can practice breathing exercises outside of bringing them to class, which I highly recommend. Here are three activities I use in class that you can try at home:
The Balloon Game: Tell your child to imagine that you need their help to fill up balloons for a party. Their belly is the balloon, and they have to take a deep breath and push their belly out to fill up each balloon. Instruct them put their hands on their belly so they can feel the movement of their stomach in order to teach them what it feels like to breathe diaphragmatically (and so the balloon doesn’t fly away). Have them tell you the colors of the balloons as they are filling them up. This keeps their attention and they will continue until they run out of colors. You can do this any time to help them get into the habit of breathing fully.
The Seed Game: Another fun breathing activity is to have them take child’s pose (sitting on their feet, with belly over their thighs and head resting on the ground). Tell them to imagine that they are a seed under the dirt. To grow into a big tree they have to pop their seed open by taking a deep breath and pressing their belly against their legs. Tell them to try it a few times, and then from there they can grow into tree pose. This would be a great one to try if they aren’t behaving, are angry or in a similar state of mind, which is often a time when children need time alone, so you can tell them they are under the dirt where no one can bother them. By folding over and putting their head down it is immediately calming; adding the breathing practice will help change their mood.
The Counting Game: Counting is another great way to teach children breath awareness, and helps them with focus as well. Have your child count “one” as they inhale and “one” as they exhale, then move on to “two” and go up to five before starting back at “one.” If it’s a young child they can repeat “one.” Be sure to tell your child to focus on the natural rhythm of their breath, instead of holding it or manipulating it in any way.
Begin all breathing practices for a short period of time; repeating activities three times is a good starting point. Once they get more comfortable with a practice, or if you notice they want to continue, encourage continuing for a longer period of time. In order to teach children that breathing exercises are good for them, do not force them to do it; instead encourage them, and don’t get frustrated if they don’t cooperate. Keep trying and eventually you will find the right moment, or they will start to develop an interest. Tell them they can practice these on their own so it gives them confidence and encouragement that they can do it alone. Let them know the best times to practice: when they are angry, sad, anxious, upset, unhappy, or before bed, a game or homework, for example. Any time they would benefit from concentration or relaxation is also a good time to practice.
Presently Yoga can be found in many schools and preschools and the numbers are starting to grow. This progress is great news for kids. School days are long and do not involve enough exercise and free play for young children. Days are structured and rigid. Yoga is the perfect opportunity for children to explore the possibilities and bring health and happiness into their lives.
There are many examples of how yoga has helped kids in school. At John B. Sliney Elementary School, teacher Leslie Stewart exposed her third grade class to practicing yoga and found that kids remained focused throughout the day and overcame test taking anxieties.
"It was great for my class because there were a lot of kids who had personal issues and testing anxieties. It changed the climate of the classroom," she said.
Yoga is not like other activities that parents put their children in. According to Betsy A. Ostrow, MD, “It is vital to break the cycle of adverse childhood experiences and replace them with coping skills. We tell children to relax but they need the tools to know how.”
Yoga teaches children the skills they need to deal with life's situations in a healthy way. Whether they are showing compassion for a friend who is troubled, practicing poses to relieve back pain or breathing deeply when they feel angry. The scope of a yoga "practice" is so great that kids can make it into what they need most. Since children spend a large majority of time in school and we are seeing the adverse affects of bullying and the stressful environment of meeting testing standards yoga is the best way to help them relax.
Even junior high students are learning from this ancient practice. Youth Empowerment Seminars - YES! in the south bay area offer classes to high risk students. Priscilla Orabuena, 15, said, "When you are going to get into a fight you want to do something to them. But you breathe and feel calm and just walk away." This is a very common result of exposing kids to yoga. To read the full article click here.
The reality is that the environment your child learns in affects their life; make sure that they are in a setting that is healthy for them emotionally. Adding yoga to their lifestyle will result in dramatic changes for the better.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years."
In a world that is progressing so rapidly with advancements like technology it is concerning to see that the health of our nation's children is retrogressing. Children who are overweight are more likely to experience diseases like type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer as adults. Later in life they suffer from heart disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis.
Like many problems that face our nation, education is a great solution. Unfortunately many schools have pulled regular physical education classes from the curriculum and recess is very limited. It is time to take matters into our own hands and pay attention to what makes a difference in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for our children.
Since children spend a large portion of time at school, and this is the foundation for their futures it is important to make the experience one that teaches children tools for a healthy lifestyle.
The CDC website suggests that schools should, "provide ample opportunities for all students to engage in physical activity outside of physical education class." This is where extracurricular activities play a vital role. One of the elementary schools that offers YogiDance has a well run after school enrichment program. This allowed us to easily offer their students the opportunity for physical activity right after school.
If your child's school does not yet have after, or even before school programs, talk to your principal about how to offer this to the students. Instead of your child coming home to turn on the TV or computer have them stay for exercise. They were sitting for the majority of the day; it is important to their development to encourage movement. A video testimonial from a mom whose son attends an after school class says it is a great transition from all the sitting, take a look!
The New York Times featured an article from a study by the World Health Organization and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stating that, "More than 80 percent of young people ages 13 to 15 worldwide are not getting the hour a day of vigorous exercise recommended for their age group. Unsurprisingly, North America and Europe lead the world in not exercising, with 43.3 percent of Americans..."
Children learn from example, and it is important to demonstrate the value of exercising by encouraging outdoor play and participation in physical activities. In YogiDance class we use hula hoops specifically because of the good workout and the fun time they get from doing it. In today's society being well rounded is what will make a difference and show improvement in your child.
Eating healthy, exercising and practicing yoga to help with stress and emotions are all linked to reducing obesity in today's children. According to information about emotional eating on HealthyChildren.org, kids who are obese often eat in response to their emotions and how they are feeling. Yoga is a special exercise that teaches children tools to handle their emotions in a healthy manner. This is why there are a growing number of schools implementing yoga classes into the curriculum. Calmingkidsyoga.org did a study of yoga in one public school that showed a significant increase in anger management after only 4.5 hours of yoga practice.
There are many values to these practices, but knowledge goes only so far without implementation. Bring your children to a class; start moving now!