While we can’t predict — and we certainly can’t control — all of the challenges that our children with CF will face, we have an idea of some of the trials that lay ahead in their lives. Introducing them to yoga is one way that we can help prepare them to face these challenges with determination, agility and a sense of peace.
“See that? That was made for you. Your journey is straight through your story. I see your fear, and it’s big. But I also see your courage – and it’s bigger. You can do hard things.”Glennon Doyle
As I’ve spent the past year preparing and teaching Kids Yoga with CF Yogi, I’ve also had the opportunity to witness the impact that this practice has had on my own CF warriors. From our experiences, I’ve compiled a list of the “top ten” ways that the big benefits of yoga apply to our kids with cystic fibrosis.
10. Yoga builds core strength, improves posture, and makes it easier to take full breaths. Together, these factors help create strong, effective mucus clearing coughs. Strong core = strong coughs!
9. Yoga improves balance, alignment and coordination. These are all skills that will set our kids up for success, helping to prevent injury as they venture into the world of sports and other forms of exercise for maintenance of their health. Yoga is incredibly complementary to many athletic disciplines!
8. Yoga helps our kids develop confidence and a positive image of their body. The celebration of small wins—like learning to balance on one foot, or being able to bend over and touch our toes—can create a lasting sense of accomplishment! Taking pride in our bodies for the things that it can do helps to foster the desire to properly care for them.
7. Yoga develops sensory awareness. As kids learn to tune their minds into both subtle and strong body movements and sensations, we may find that our kids are more inclined to give voice to a feeling of discomfort or abnormality that may be a sign of a CF exacerbation or complication. Self reporting is the important to early intervention!
6. Yoga can help balance energy levels and calm the nervous system. Through twists that stimulate the spinal cord, calming breathing exercises and the regular practice of relaxation, children can learn tools to self-soothe. This can serve them when they encounter stressful situations, such as preparing for a anxiety-inducing procedures or managing pre-PFT nerves.
5. Yoga is inclusive. Nearly all yoga postures can be adapted for all body shapes, sizes and conditions so that everyone can receive physical and mental benefits from each posture. This makes yoga a great form of exercise for kids at home, in a hospital setting or our in the world!
4. Yoga postures can help get the digestive tract moving. Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, easing digestive troubles and stimulating the release of stomach acids to help break down food and awaken our appetite! Go get those good calories!
3. Yoga encourages healthy sleep patterns by relaxing the body and elongating the breath. While we sleep our bodies are primed to produce white blood cells needed to fend off viruses and bacteria – our CF kids can always use a little extra in this regard. And as we all know, when the kids are sleeping well, the grownups can sleep better too . . . a proper night’s sleep can be a true blessing for all!
2. Yoga fosters joy and a positive outlook. By empowering our kids to relax, self-soothe, and know their bodies, we can help them grow beyond the fight-or-flight stress response that can rob them of their happiness and peace of mind. As they begin to experience more of life from a place of peace, difficult experiences become prime opportunities to evolve their understanding of the various roles they play (child, sibling, student, patient, teammate, friend). This self-awareness also helps them understand how their actions affect others.
1. Yoga adventure stories—like we use in our CF Yogi kids classes—foster empathy, compassion, and courage. As we use our imagination to embody characters throughout a yoga adventure story we have an opportunity to experience the world from a different physical AND mental perspective! As we consider predicaments and feelings experienced by other people, creatures, and even cultures, we build a sense of compassion and courage to stand up for others… and for ourselves!
Yoga encourages a sense of connection with ourselves (mind+body) and with others. CF can be an isolating disease and we want our kids to know they are not alone! Through our CF Yogi classes kids have an opportunity to hear CF vocabulary normalized with other people like them, and give thought to the way other families are living life with CF.
CF Yogi’s Kids Yoga classes are designed with the unique challenges of our CF kids and families in mind. We invite you to join us on the mat as we learn to lean in when faced with obstacles and discover the incredible capabilities of our bodies and our minds along the way!
Kids Yoga returns in January on Sunday afternoons at 5PM EST. Register here for CF Yogi and get the links to join us!