24 Aug The Science Behind Relax Kids
Relax Kids classes help to support children’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing, and help cultivate a positive attitude, growth mindset and improve self regulation.
Classes are based on a unique seven step system taking children from high energy movement and games down to a relaxing visualisation at the end of the class.
The steps are:
MOVE – Warm up exercises for energy and fun
Warm up exercises and movement of the body increases adrenaline into the blood stream which in turn increases the heart rate, body temperature and blood flow into the muscles. These physiological responses provide feedback to the brain to prepare the body for more movement in our PLAY time!
PLAY – Activity Games for vitality, creativity and joy
Lively, engaging and fun games increase production of the “feel good” brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. These chemicals give us feelings of well being and contentment as well as controlling things like sleep pattern, attention span, learning and our emotions. Games and having fun with others also stimulates neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons in many areas of the brain, including the hippocampus. This area of the brain is important for learning and memory and also influences our emotions. Imaginative play is also known to be a vital tool for optimum brain development, for learning social and self-regulation skills and creativity. More gentle, mindful games and and crafts help children to get in touch with their senses and start coming down from the excitement of lively games, while still having fun.
STRETCH – Yoga for balance, inner strength and power
Yoga and stretching exercises help children to start decreasing their heart rate, breathing rate and release any muscle tension. Focusing the mind on the body in this way also helps with concentration and focus, and helps with physical strength and flexibility. We also use story based stretches and Yoga games in this section.
FEEL – Peer/self massage for self awareness, empathy and respect
Peer/Self massage enhances the effects of stretching and helps to relax muscle tension, decreasing our stress response and triggering the relaxation response. Gentle touch also releases oxytocin, essential for brain development in children. Usually story based and done as a fun exercise in pairs, on ourselves or as a group, this is one the children love to practice at home!
BREATHE – Breathing exercises for improved health, decreased anxiety and inner calm
New studies show that focusing on the breath regularly can strengthen connections between different areas of the brain to help us to regulate our emotions and feel less stressed and anxious. The rate of breathing slows down letting us feel more relaxed and with an increased sense of wellbeing and happiness. In Relax Kids classes we use all kinds of breathing exercises, using props such as feathers and balloons, to learn and enjoy this valuable skill.
BELIEVE – Affirmations for self esteem, confidence and positivity
Scientific studies show that positive affirmations and growth mindset practiced regularly can lead to a surge of the hormone dopamine which increases motivation, commitment and attention span. It also increases neuroplasticity, meaning children can literally rewire their brain to think more positively by focusing on positive thoughts. This also combats the effect of negative emotions, which we are believed to respond more strongly to. We use affirmation games and exercises and lots of positivity in this section to help children improve their confidence and believe in themselves.
RELAX – Visualisations for deep relaxation, imagination and peace
Our last step is a story based meditation which uses our own mind to transport us to different, magical places each week, limited only by our imagination! Deep relaxation increases endorphin levels to create a “feel good” feeling, and regular practice helps us to reach the state of relaxation more easily. Children are invited to bring along a pillow, blanket, favourite toy (or all three!) so they can get super comfortable for this section.
So there it is, some of the science behind Relax Kids. The best part about it is, the children are for the most part completely unaware of the science, they just enjoy coming to a fun class where they do different things every week! But you as a parent might just see some better behaviour, improved sleep, increased concentration at school, more creativity, positive mindset and self confidence in your child.