Today we are pleased to have guest author Alissa Nicol* share with us some tips for taming temper tantrums with yoga…please share a comment and let us know what works for you to tame a tantrum. Recently in the news there has been talk about scientific evidence proving the benefits of yoga, known by practitioners for centuries.  These benefits include improved mood and decreased anxiety due to heightened levels of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), lowered blood pressure, and weight loss.

The Wall Street Journal ran this article recently: Namaste. Now Nap Time and Parents magazine recently did an article: Yoga for Better Behavior. What we haven’t seen yet are results from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study proving that yoga prevents temper tantrums in toddlers.  It would be fairly easy to placebo control a study of tantrums – how often has a child you know thrown a fit over what is, in essence, nothing?

Fear not – in spite of an apparent lack of scientific evidence, there is plenty of anecdotal support for the tantrum taming powers of toddler yoga! The practice of yoga, in and of itself, helps eliminate tantrums because it provides what all children desperately crave: Empowerment. It also encourages self-awareness, and promotes self-expression and self-control.

Moving From Meltdown to Laughter
Here are a few poses for you to introduce into your daily routine or pack into your toolbox for emergencies.

  • Lion’s Breath: Sit on your heels together, and breathe in deeply through your noses. As you breathe out, roar like a lion and stick out your tongue. Make a fierce face! Taking a deep breath through the nose instantly calms, and the lion’s roar helps us find our voices and feel strong.
  • Earthquake: When your little one needs to let it all out, get out the seismometer! Start shaking just your feet, and then let the shaking move up to your knees. Next wiggle your hips, and then your shoulders and arms. Finally, waggle your head. Whoa!  If things are still rumbling after you’re settled back down, another earthquake may be in order. Keep the waves coming until you’re both exhausted.
  • Donkey: Starting on your hands and knees in a table pose, come into downward facing dog by tucking your toes under and lifting your hips. Press your palms into the floor and kick your feet up in the air. This pose is so active and so much fun, it’s impossible to stay frustrated!
  • Volcano: When your small yogi is on the verge of eruption, it is definitely time for volcano! Come into mountain pose, standing with your feet under your hips and your palms pressed together at your heart. Raise your hands over your head, and then separate your palms, letting your arms sweep down as the lava flows.  If there’s a lot boiling inside, try jumping volcano.  Sound effects are a must!

It’s even more fun to practice with friends – friends you know, and friends you haven’t met yet! A Mommy and Me class is a great way to learn more poses, and have fun practicing together in a group.

Have you done yoga with your family? Please let us know in the comments below.

*Alissa Nicol has been teaching yoga to families with toddlers through teens for over six years, and working with families in educational settings for over two decades. She is a Certified Itsy Bitsy Yoga Facilitator, and has completed the Radiant Child Yoga Program and the Ring One Circus Yoga Immersion Teacher Training. She currently offers popular “Mommy and Me” and “Kid’s Yoga” classes at the Barefoot Books Studio in Concord. You can learn more about Alissa here.

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