She spent her childhood reading books until all hours at night. Her childhood was quiet and simple as she progressed into adulthood.
Becoming an early childhood teacher she came to love children’s books in particular but sometimes she found the choices available to her as a teacher fell short of what she was looking for – themes like feelings were in short supply. And so the seeds for her desire to write children’s books were sown.
Lea McKnoulty- author and illustrator
I’m beyond thrilled to have Lea the author and illustrator of ‘Making Mindful Magic’ here with us today to talk about her book, meditations, yoga and mindfulness.
If you’re reading this I know already that I’m writing for the converted. I think we agree that the effort we put into providing meaningful experiences for our children will be reflected in them on their journey to adulthood. That’s why taking the time and effort to model and encourage a mindful life is such a significant contribution to be made as a parent. Life is potentially very busy and breaking that model as the ‘norm’ is key to introducing kids to a calmer, slower, more focused life.
Practicing mindfulness makes us more grounded, brings inner calm and clarity of thought. It encourages us to live authentically and to be happy with what we have and who we are. These sound like parenting goals we all strive for! The practice of Yoga is an excellent way to help the process and it’s a great family activity.
Yoga is mindful because it encourages connecting with your quiet place inside and to focus and pay attention to what you are doing in the present moment. It can be practised at the many kid’s yoga classes now springing up or it can be done at home or school as part of your regular mindful routine. You won’t need to convince them to join you – kids love doing yoga especially the ones with the quirky names like ‘Downward Facing Dog’ and ‘Tree Pose’. Yoga is one of the mindful activities in our book, Making Mindful Magic and when using it in workshops, yoga is easily one of the most requested to do.
Another great thing about yoga at home is – you need very little to do it and it ca be done inside or out! Comfortable clothes, bare feet, a space, a rug or mat and that’s about it! You can enhance the experience with a little calm music – easily downloadable – just search for ‘yoga music’ in iTunes and you’re ready!
Here are some easy poses you might like to try with your children:
All yoga sessions are best begun sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed, palms together at the chest, quietly breathing and thinking of the moment we are in. From there you can choose from a variety of poses but here are a few to get you started:
Begin by standing with feet together. With your eyes open, fix your gaze on a stationary object a few feet in front of you. This will help you maintain your focus and stay balanced. Stand on one leg with the foot of the other leg pressed against the inner thigh of the standing leg. The hands are stretched upward with the palms touching. Repeat with the other leg.
Downward Facing Dog
Begin by kneeling on the floor. Bring your knees together and your buttocks to your feet. Exhale and slowly rest your torso over your thighs so that your forehead touches the mat. Exhale, spread your knees wide, bring your feet together, stretch your arms out in front with your belly between your legs and push back and up towards the ceiling. You should end up in an inverted “V” position, which is downward facing dog.
Begin by kneeling then drop the bottom back to your heels as you stretch the rest of your body down to the floor and forward, arms outstretched with head on the floor.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
Start by sitting with your left side against the wall. Turn your body to the left and bring your legs up onto the wall. Lower your back to the floor and lie down. Move your bottom close to the wall. Your arms rest by your sides, palms facing up.
Happy Baby Pose
Lie on your back with both knees into your chest and put arms through the inside of the knees. Hold onto the outside edge of each foot. Tuck the chin into the chest and head on the floor. Press the tailbone down into the floor and push the heels up and pull back with the arms. Press the shoulders and the back of the neck down into the floor, trying to get the back and whole spine at to the floor.
Cat Cow Pose
Begin on all fours. Inhale as the belly is dropped and look up, raising your tail bone upwards(Cow). Exhale as the chin is tucked to the chest and the mid-back raised to the sky with your tailbone under (Cat). Continue these positions with a neutral spine between the movements.
Lie on your back, arms and legs open. Close the eyes and take slow deep breaths through the nose. Allow your whole body to become soft and relaxed. To finish slowly move up to a seated position.
Yoga is a perfect addition to any routine that establishes peace and quiet in the household but I especially like it for kids at bedtime. You may also want to consider using it for any time you’d especially like to promote quiet engagement in the household. If you’re especially interested in establishing a calm bedtime routine with your children you might enjoy our free e-book, Calm Nights available here http://makingmindfulmagic.com/sign-up on our website.
To stay up to date with Lea’s tips head to her website or social accounts: