Breathing easy: the benefits of mindfulness meditation practices

By MiNDFOOD

Child girl in the Park. Yoga at sunset in the park. Girl is practicing yoga.
Child girl in the Park. Yoga at sunset in the park. Girl is practicing yoga.

Introducing mindfulness meditation practices at Bear Park.

Breathe in through your nose … breathe out through your mouth. Ahhhhhh … Mindfulness has long been studied in adults and is known to improve overall health, wellbeing and mental clarity. These benefits can also be provided to children.

This year at childcare centre and preschool Bear Park Albany, teachers began incorporating mindfulness meditation practices into each day, as well as simple yoga movement to help each child relate to their mind and body.

At Bear Park, we believe that when we consciously connect to our breath, we signal to our brains we are in control, and help to stimulate stress-regulating hormones, encouraging calm and clear thinking.

Mindfulness takes many forms at Bear Park. A favourite with the children is practising the ‘lion’s breath’ and ‘lion’s roar’. The children sit comfortably and start to quietly breathe in through their noses, exhaling loudly through their mouths, just like a lion.

Sometimes we slow down eating time, so children can explore food with all of their senses, and demonstrate patience, creativity and critical thinking. A mandarin, for example, may be examined carefully, focusing on smell, touch, taste and sight.

When we strengthen our connection to our mind and body through breathing and mindful movement, we come to know more intimately what we are capable of achieving. Our teaching teams feel these types of activities support holistic development in children, encouraging empathy and resilience. www.bearpark.co.nz

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