The author, Kathy Hoopmann, has found a great vehicle in using photographs of the expressive faces of birds in partner with a short phrase describing the very real and very serious subject of anxiety. The fabulous photographs bring the words to life. Each description of a level of anxiety allows the reader to empathize with and feel compassion for the very stressed out “birds”. This is totally relatable to ones own perceptions of and connections to anxiety but it also gives insight into the world and people around us. The book presents many varied aspects of anxiety and how they negatively effect us physically, mentally and emotionally. After taking the reader through these very descriptive definitions of anxiety and it’s out-reach (or in-reach, as it were), I so appreciated the feeling of lightness and a belief that their can be relief from the pain and stress anxiety causes that was evident at the end of the book. The book offers various coping skills to allow a person to really hear what their inner self is saying and how to bring themselves out of fear such as learning to trust oneself, being brave, and taking action such as eating well, exercising, doing yoga, snuggling pets and caring for themselves and others (human, animal or plant); all of these leading to the initiation of the relaxation response to counteract the negative effects of the continual firing of the fight or flight response. And thereby, releasing a person from the grips of anxiety and arriving at a calmer place.
I recommend this book with its straight-forward prose and the beautiful and often comical photographs, to both children and adults. It is an extremely accessible tool for those who are experiencing anxiety. It should be available in schools, doctors offices, libraries and anywhere else people might find a little relief from their anxiety.
Full Disclosure: Kingsley Publishers (London & Philadelphia) sent me a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Mindful Teachings by Eve: How I will use this book:
A certain amount of stress is normal but an over production can lead to an anxiety disorder which can wreck havoc on a child physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically. Yoga is an accessible, adaptive and inclusive method to decrease anxiety and bring about a better state of mind and a stronger connection to oneself.
Yoga for anxious children creates opportunities for them to:
- Build self-esteem and confidence in a relaxed atmosphere while they improve their balance, coordination and proprioception.
- Practice independence in a safe, non-judgmental environment
- Experience a sense of community
- Learn how to focus on and use their breathing effectively (which has a direct effect on their vagus nerve and the multiple benefits of a fit vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves (nerves in the brain). The word “vagus” means “wanders” and this nerve wanders all the way from the brain through the neck and into the abdomen. The vagus nerve is literally the captain of your inner nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system, to be specific, which controls the relaxation response as a counteraction to the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. This “captain”. When well tines, will do a great job of navigating functions and impulses of the body.)
- Practice calming techniques such as visualization, meditation and physical movement.
In general, poses that bend forward are calming and poses and backward bending poses are uplifting. A forward bending pose has a long exhale (to calm) and a back-bend has a deeper inhale, to invigorate. If you are feeling depressed, do not practice too many forward folding poses as they will increase your feelings of melancholy, but a few can certainly make you feel safe, secure and quiet. Back-bending poses are great to amp-up energy, open the heart and to increase joy.
- Yoga To Settle In and Calm Down (not necessarily feeling anxious):
- Belly Breath
- 30 seconds to 1 minute of stillness in body, mind and energy
- ADD: Tree Pose
- ADD: Challenge: Tree to Dancer to Tree
- ADD Challenge: Partner Tree/Partner Dancer
- (FINAL POSE): 1-minute Exploration
- Yoga To Energize (suggested use,after lunch):
- Trunk Breath
- Mt-Up Mt-Chair-Skier-Rock-Hang-Roll-up
- Balance poses
- Real or imaginary “Blow-A-Pinwheel” breath
- Mini Back Bends (energizing, invigorating, opening and warming)
- Warrior I-II-III sequence (add in awakening affirmations)
- Shake it out/Tap it out
- 1-minute Exploration
- Yoga for an upset or anxious student:
Child’s Pose (either on floor, standing, in chair or at desk)
Possibly lay on belly, if that is available.
Imaginary or Real “Blow-A-Pinwheel” breath
Forward bends (calming, cooling, exhale poses)