12 Tips for Winter Themed Indoor Mindfulness Activities

As a kids yoga teacher for over 8 years now, I have witnessed the deep craving kids have to be still. I always explain how equally important it is to rest as much as it is to move and play. Especially during this cold Winter season.

Seasonal changes in weather affect how our minds and bodies function. In our fast paced and productivity - driven society, so many us fight against the natural rhythms of nature. We try to operate on the same intense levels of Summertime even during the Winter.

When days are long, our metabolism and energy levels amp up. In Winter, our bodies produce hormones that make us sleepy, giving us time to restore in mind and body and soul.

Why not take advantage of the season and give you and your kids some downtime this Winter and stay home? Chill out and let your kids enjoy some low key, inexpensive, safe and messy - free indoor mindfulness activities.

Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to one thing at a time. When we are engaged in one activity at a time we are in the practice of building strong minds. This allows us to focus and find our zen.

Enjoy facilitating these activities for your kids or joining in the fun yourself!

FOCUS ON POM POMS

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Have an imaginary snowball fight

Count your poms poms or collect your favorite colors

Create your own snowflake shape

Have a pom pom race by blowing your pom pom to the finish line

Create your own snowflake shapes

Play toega by picking up the pom moms with your toes

Throw the pom moms on the floor and make snow angels on top of them

Make up your own pom pom game


MAKE + SHAPE

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Make your own shapes with pipe cleaners and beads and incorporate breathing

Pick up a bead and breathe in, place the bead on the pipe cleaner and breathe out

SCARVES FOR DAYS

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Twirl around in an imaginary snowstorm with your scarf

Breathe in and breathe out as you make the sound of the storm (hoo - woo!)

Toss the scarf up overhead and catch it on your head, arm, knee or any body part

Scrunch up the scarf and toe it to one another

Notice the texture of the scarf and make a sound with it by rubbing the fabric

Cover yourself up with a pile of scarves imagining you are buried in snow

Throw a scarf up in the air and try to keep it floating by blowing it from underneath

CLAY CREATIONS

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Make holiday clay shapes out of any color clay

Try closing your eyes while making a shape and see how it turns out

Design your own tree ornament or make a special gift for someone

What does the clay feel like, look like and smell like?

Create anything you would like and ask someone if they can guess what you made

PIN WHEEL + BUBBLES FOR DAYS

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Practice breathing with pinwheels and bubbles while having a magical time

Research the science behind how breathing help us calm our bodies and minds


BLINDFOLDED TASTE TEST

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Use a blindfold when tasting different foods and guess what it is

Food suggestions: orange slice, chocolate chip, raisin, dried cranberries

IF YOU WERE A…..

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If you were a snowflake what shape would you make with your body?

Make up your own Winter themes and ask this question

If you were a reindeer, snowball, snowflake, christmas tree…..

Other themes like animals or shapes are fun too!

BLOCK CREATIONS

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Foam yoga blocks are perfect for building anything the mind can imagine

These blocks are soft and durable, safe and quiet when they fall down

Create something that reminds you of Winter

Maybe build an igloo, christmas tree, santa’s sleigh, or a cozy cave

Build whatever you want and then knock it over because that’s so fun

Build a balance beam and walk across it, maybe even try balancing on it

Balance a block on your head or use it as a drum

Look online for wholesale prices at places like Sunshine Yoga

CLASSIC MEMORY

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You probably already own the classic memory game

Try other ways to use the cards

When someone gets a match if playing with animal pictures they act it out

Each animal can be turned into any yoga pose or shape

ARCTIC SCAVENGER HUNT

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Hide and find these fun arctic figures

You can also make animal body shapes, design a scene or make up your own thing!

This Arctic Toob set can be found in craft stores for $10 to $12

BOOKS, BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS

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Winter themed books can make the cold season feel a lil’ more magical

These books will spark the imagination of a young child

Look for pictures of animals or other images that can be turned into yoga shapes

Make up your own body shapes or yoga poses

COSMIC KIDS YOGA + MINDFULNESS VIDEOS

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Cosmic Kids is an online platform for kids and parents to practice together

Get moving and learning together with these fun and FREE videos





















It's Bitter + It's Sweet

It is a bittersweet world we live in.  A world full of anguish, hostility, violence, fear, hate and greed.  A world full of love, kindness, support, hope and joy. 

Why must we be forced to taste the bitterness of the world?  Perhaps because it brings those of us who prefer the sweetness of life together.  When we gather round' the nectar, we create a recipe for change. 

Recently, I experienced my very first march.  A sweet cause for a bitter call to action.  I marched with the kids.  The real leaders of our world.  I marched for their lives.  I marched for all lives. 

The experience was profound.  The energy was palpable.  I felt the light of the world flood through my entire being.  The grief for the victims of gun violence ripped through my core.

To be surrounded by so many beautiful souls flocking in harmony with one another to drink from the nectar was a beautiful reminder that we are all better together.  THIS is what change looks like.  I really get it now.  No longer is it a concept of my mind, but a living truth in my body and soul. 

For those of us who have children of our own, it is our duty to answer their questions about the madness in the world.  It is our duty to take action by joining hand in hand with the one's who seek the sweetness of the world.  It is our duty to take our children's hands and guide the way for them so they may find relief from the bitterness. 

We must march together.  We must stand with one another.  If we don't, we will all drown in grief and suffering, hopelessness and fear.  And worst of all complacency and loneliness. 

Come together (insert The Beatles tune here) and grow together right now with me and other parents as we continue to plant seeds of kindness, love and hope in our kids through the practices of yoga and mindfulness.  The place where true actions aligned with true heart begins. 

 

 

Fitting the Puzzle Piece Together

I am a highly sensitive being.  Always have been.  I just never knew it, or simply had no name for it.   Until my my mid thirties while working with a woman who studies and understands emapths.  I used to think I was crazy.  Now it all makes sense!

From a very young age, I remember feeling very different from other people.  That hasn't changed.  Neither have my big feelings and emotions. 

I can't remember a time in my life when I have not felt deeply.  I am easily overstimulated by crowds, noise and stress.  I consider large gatherings to be six or more people in which I want to escape because it feels so overwhelming.  I absorb other people's emotions which makes it difficult to discern theirs from my own.  I get easily upset and have a hard time letting things that affect me negatively go.  I need A LOT of space.  I feel deep pain for the perils of our world. 

When I am feeling heavy and sad for no reason, I have to check in with myself to ask if it could possibly be a symptom of the pain of the world.  I will never forget the almost unbearable tears I shed when I heard of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010.  It directly affected the beaches I grew up on.  As well as my spirit and soul. 

If I don't make a conscious choice to disconnect from all forms of media, I begin to spiral.  This is almost impossible to do now with social media as part of our everyday culture.  I really struggle with finding balance in this.  

Recently, Eli overheard me talking about my sensitivities and feeling like I have never fit in.  He said to me "Mom, every puzzle piece is different, but they all fit together perfectly".  This became brand new perspective for me. 

As I continue to reflect on his wisdom, I am reminded about my gift.  My highly sensitive nature. 

When I am not trying to shut this part of myself down because of its' piercing intensity, it allows me intuition, empathy, compassion and a deep connection with myself and loved ones. 

I appreciate my tenderness and openness to feel deeply.  I recognize this as a strength and act of courage.  I understand not everyone will understand me and I am okay with that.  I embrace my stand out, one of a kind puzzle piece.  This puzzle piece is one that fits in with those pieces that are similar in shape, size and color.  And I am blessed to have many in my life.

If you or your children are highly sensitive beings, I encourage you to learn about the traits and coping mechanisms for a more balanced and peaceful life by clicking this link

 

Make Em' Laugh

My son is now 11 years old.  He is kind, witty, clever, curious, crafty and artsy, intelligent and thoughtful and VERY funny.  He is my constant reminder to be playful.  Kids need us to make them laugh as much as they make us laugh.

As parents, sometimes we forget how important that is.  Parenting requires a lot of work, time and energy and as we all know, can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. 

What I have discovered is there are many ways for both parents and children to recharge and the most fun way is through humor and silliness.

One of my latest playful moves is to greet Eli with a cheer upon his entrance home from school.  He loves this now (maybe not for much longer) and it always makes him smile.  E - L - I (insert body shaped letters).... ELI!! 

He now has a cheer for me too.  M - O - M .... MOM!!  Imagine if someone greeted you with a cheer after your long day of responsibilities!  I would bet you'd join in too.

When I notice Eli feeling grumpy, I start a game of chase around the house.  We giggle and hide and bat at each other.  Even Max, our dog, joins in for the excitement.  It changes his energetic state instantly.  And mine too.

Wrestling is another way I like to engage Eli in play.  It is definitely a mood lifter.  We have always wrestled as a family.  Our karate matches are super exciting.  I have some mean high kicks and sweet kung fu tricks.  And he has some good tips on pressure points. 

We play music around the house quite often and when I hear a groovy tune, I can't help but move my body to the beat.  Eli will usually join in and sometimes will lead me in a do - si - do or a sweet lil' waltz.  This is one of my favorite forms of play. 

As an observer of myself in these moments with my son, I realize more deeply the importance of my job as a parent.  It is my responsibility, not Eli's, to lean in.  To ask subtle questions, to share with him my experiences, my joys and my sorrows, to hold space for him always and to make him laugh. 

All without the expectation that he should have to lean in closer to me first for anything.  No matter how old he is.  No matter how much he tells me he doesn't want me around. 

I will give him space, but I will not stay away.  I will initiate texts and phone calls.  I will remind myself not to take it personally when he wants to distance himself from me or his dad.  And I will always try to stay lighthearted and playful.  This is my promise to myself and to my son.

 

 

 

Words Matter

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".

This old saying is one that many people grew up believing, still do believe and teach their children to believe.  I have tried to see truth in this expression.  Like most children, I used it as a shield against feeling hurt by other people's words.  It proved itself to be effective, but only for the short term.  In the long term, I see how this old adage served as a temporary fix and am no longer fooled by its' falsities. 

Sticks and stones may break our bones and words can sometimes hurt us.  Because words matter. 

We are seeing this more than ever before now that social media has become the norm.  Twitter wars are breaking out and cyber bullying is now an epidemic.  The evidence is there.  There is no denying the simple fact that words can have damaging effects on one another.  The ramifications are very real and run deep. 

Harmful words can lead to the rupturing of a soul.  As a mother and wife, I am keenly aware of this truth.  Now that my son is 10 years old, he is beginning to share his earliest childhood memories with me.  Most of his memories of Mike and I are full of love and kindness (thankfully!).  However, one of his most recent shared memories was of unkind words spoken to him around the age of 4 by his father and I, in which he suffered negative consequences.  He said our words made him feel unimportant.  This was heartbreaking news for my husband and I.  Fortunately, we have been able to hear our son, feel his feelings, and repair the rupture we blindly caused him.  We have helped our son establish a new thought pattern about himself when he notices that he is feeling unimportant.  That new thought pattern is: "I am full of treasures".  We revisit these words with him often.  We also use our blunder as an opportunity to learn from and grow from as a family.  The most important lesson we have all gained from this is that we must choose our words carefully.  All of us.  Towards ourselves and towards others. 

Why do humans sometimes use hurtful words towards one another?  Or why do we behave aggressively or defensively towards each other?  I have been thinking quite a lot about these questions lately.  My conclusion is because we ourselves have been treated this way by other people in our lives at some point.  Some of us so much, that it's all we know.  Some of us are hurting so badly inside that all we know to do is treat others poorly through our words.  It's really a cry for help.  I am convinced that not one single person on this planet wants to alienate themselves from another human being.  We are all longing for love, connection, reassurance and acceptance.  But sometimes one's pain runs so deep, they subconsciously believe that in order to protect themselves from more pain, they must cause pain to another.  Not because they want to intentionally hurt someone, but because they are hurting inside.  And what that person doesn't realize is the power of their words.  Our brains are hardwired for story, so when someone says something hurtful to us, it's more than normal than not, to attach meaning to it and create a story around it, usually a story that has a negative charge.  This is why teaching our children that sticks and stones won't break our bones isn't good enough.  We must do more than that.  We must infuse pure magic into their souls through positive thought processes and affirmations so that they may be armed with a shield of truth. 

When we practice positive mental thought patterns, we are literally rewiring our brains and undoing all of the lies from this world we have learned to believe.  And this is the magic.  With thoughts alone, which eventually become words, we have the power to either create healing.  Recently, my family and I have been infusing magic into our souls through positive thought processes and affirmations before we go to bed.  The following affirmations have been particularly healing and comforting for us all:

I love and approve of myself and I trust the process of life.  I am safe.

I am seen with love, compassion and understanding.  All is well. 

I trust myself.  I am free to be me.

I forgive myself.  I forgive others. 

I express my emotions freely.  It is safe to be me.  I express who I am. 

I am full of treasures. 

This practice allows us to return to our true state, that which we were born into - pure joy and love.  We all enter the world as tiny babies, loving fully, expressing ourselves openly and trusting completely.  These are all the truths of our being.  All the rest is learned nonsense and can be unlearned.  How we talk to ourselves will be how we talk to others.  Let's all use our thoughts and our words with care and attention.  And may we always remember.. words matter.

Please join me this Sunday, January 22nd at AWARE LANCASTER.  As a Create Karma Generator and Ambassador, I will be presenting a mini workshop on Nurturing the Next Generation through Yoga + Mindfulness and would love to see you there!  It is through mindful actions that we, together, can make lasting changes from within and ultimately for our next generation. 


With Love,

Michelle Newman
Your Yoga & Wellness Educator