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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Homework Break! Try this 10-minute yoga sequence for a mind/body reboot

c/o Bend + Bloom Yoga
Long days grow even longer for kids when schoolwork piles up. With curriculum to keep up with and cramming for tests, the workload never seems to end.

Yoga can help children to pace their study efforts and reduce mental and physical burnout, says Amy Quinn Suplina, owner of Bend + Bloom Yoga of Brooklyn, New York (bendandbloom.com).

 “From a mental health perspective, getting the blood flowing and the energy back up, improves kids’ ability to focus and regroup,” says Suplina. “Movement breaks help them to return to work in a more effective manner.”

c/o Bend + Bloom Yoga
 “Kids’ heads and shoulders are hunched over their computers and electronic devices all day, which has long term implications for spinal health. Yoga can help to counter the effect of that forward flexion and return healthy curves to the spine,” says Suplina.

When there are hours of homework to tackle, Suplina recommends that kids take a yoga time-out.

“Doing so can make them more alert,” she says. “Instead of turning to social media or television, practicing can enhance focus, clarity, and make them more present in their work and thinking. With a renewed ability to focus on what’s in front of them, they’ll be more efficient about their work.”

c/o Bend + Bloom Yoga
Try this 10-Minute Seated Yoga Homework Break Sequence!

Lateral Neck Stretch

While seated in your desk chair, take your right hand to the left side of your skull and encourage your right ear toward your right shoulder. Hold on to your chair for extra leverage. Practice on both sides.


Wrapping one arm under the other, lift your elbows to shoulder height. Imagine your elbows are the tips of a paint brush and you are painting a horizontal line back and forth across your computer screen. This opens up the space between the scapula and the musculature of your upper back. Practice on both sides.

Seated Cat and Cow

With your hands in your lap, inhale as you slide your hands back to your hip creases, point your elbow tips back and broaden your collar bone. Gaze up as your chest rises. Exhale and slide your hands down the thighs to cup your knee caps as your belly draws back to round you in. Practice three to five rounds.

Simple Lateral Side Bend Using Chair

Hold your left hand under your chair and breathe in to raise your right arm up. As you breathe out, bend toward the left using the chair as leverage to lengthen your right side body to open the musculature between your side ribs. Repeat on the other side.

Seated Spinal Twists

As you inhale, sit tall feeling a sense of spaciousness in your spine. Exhaling, twist to your right, taking hold of the back of your chair with your two hands, hold for a few cycles of breath. Repeat on the left side.

Seated Figure Four

Come to the edge of your chair in Ankle to Knee shape, taking your right ankle above your left knee. Fold forward from the creases of your hips, lengthen your chest past your chin bone, elongating the front of the spine. This shape can ease low back pain that results from hours of sitting at your desk. Try on both sides.

If you need to revive yourself…

Breath of Fire

Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Draw sharp, short inhales and exhales through the nose of even length, pumping the navel in and out for about one minute. This rhythmic breath ignites your energy. If you need to focus your attention…

Villoma Breath

This is an interrupted breathing technique where you take pauses on the inhale and enjoy a nice smooth exhale.  Draw in a third of a breath on a count of two seconds, pause for two seconds, draw in the next third, pause, then completely fill the lungs and pause.  Slowly exhale all the breath out to a slow count of 6.  Villoma means "against the natural flow" and will release anxiety and enhance mental clarity.

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