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Yoga and Mindfulness in the Early Years

Written by Melissa Day

During Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) time, Relaxation and Mindfulness sessions incorporating Yoga have been introduced as an option in Early Years. Within the Nursery classroom, these skills are often used in the daily routine, but ECA has allowed other children to practice and learn these skills. We start by burning off some energy, then calm our minds with thinking games. We massage our arms, hands and faces, and take deep breaths while repeating some positive comments. Finally, we relax with some peaceful music, and some calming lights.

Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment, taking time to notice and accept your feelings, thoughts and sensations. How you feel right now, and not worrying about how you felt before or how you might feel later. For young children it helps in developing the skills to express how they are feeling and to understand that all emotions are acceptable. It is fantastic to feel happy, but nobody is happy all the time, and that is perfectly fine. We all feel sad or even angry sometimes, but by developing the skills to identify why we feel sad, and how to express and cope with those feelings, it makes it so much easier to deal with these feelings quickly. By taking some time in our daily routine to embrace the present moment we can all learn together to connect with our emotions, and allow ourselves time to stop and take a break.

Here are some simple Mindfulness tips:

1. ‘Mindful Minutes’ – Focus on the sounds or the smells around you for a minute. After, discuss what you noticed.
2. ‘Mindful Eating’ – Rather than rushing food, eat it slowly and discuss how it makes you feel.
3. Talk openly about emotions and positive ways to handle them
4. ‘Positive affirmations” – Repeat positive phrases, such as “I am calm”, “I am strong”, connect these phrases to moments that maybe cause worry, such as a dentist visit.
5. Encourage some quiet time when you take a 5-minute break to listen to calming music. It is said that 20 minutes laying quietly is equivalent to an hour’s sleep.
6. Learn how to take deep breaths. Breathing well can help us feel better, especially if we feel emotional.

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