Settle The Wind in a Child’s Mind and Body
Sep 02, 2019
The fall season is upon us in the Midwest and with it comes dry, variable conditions. Change is in the air with back-to-school as well, which can be unsettling for many children.
In addition to the change all around us, a child may also have more of a “changeable” nature. Does your child run more like a deer than a bear or tiger? Does he love salty, crunchy snacks, forget easily or vacillate between fear and excitement? If so, it’s likely your child already has a lot of the qualities of wind in his nature.
This trifecta of change—in the seasons, their routine and within—can throw a child off balance. This can lead to mental and emotional challenges as well as difficulty with digestion and sleep. Because transitions are inherently unstable, this also is when illness and injury can most often occur.
But have no fear, ayurveda is here! The sister science to yoga teaches us how to live in harmony with nature, both within and around us. These simple tips from ayurveda can help children transition more smoothly.
One of the best ways to stay stable through change is to create routine. Start with mornings. Plan the night before and establish at least three things that are done the same way at the same time each morning. A regular routine in the morning sets the tone for a steady day.
The second best time for routine is at bedtime. Choose three things to do at the same time each evening. For example, brush teeth, put on pajamas, review the day. When done in the same order at the same time, it creates a rhythm. Just like rocking a baby in a cradle, this soothes our senses, mind, and body.
Another great time of day to introduce structure is the transition home from school. A single restorative yoga pose can mean the difference between a homework meltdown and a finished project. Any basic restorative pose will do, such as a supported backbend with a thinly folded blanket under the chest, or legs up the wall, or child’s pose. Imagine every kid coming home from school, and every day spending two minutes in a restorative pose and drinking a full glass of water. Simple? Yes. Effective? Very.
Ayurveda is the practice of introducing gentle opposites. Dry, salty snacks, ice-cold drinks, and raw vegetables match the cold, dry, conditions of fall. Avoid these. Instead, bring in the opposite, with roasted root vegetables, soups, and stews. Include warm and moist quality fats like avocados, nuts, clarified butter, and coconut milk. Sugar and processed food can throw a kid off any time of the year, so reduce those as well.
Wind Pacifying Habits
As the weather turns, have your child dress for success by wearing a scarf around their neck and keeping their ears warm. The neck is particularly vulnerable to wind, so wearing a fleece vest with a zip-up collar or a turtleneck at school can help your child feel more focused and settled.
If you can introduce just one habit for the fall season, consider sesame oil massage. It is very nourishing for the nervous system, which is the home base of the wind element in the body. Warm a tablespoon of organic sesame oil in a small pot on the stove (don’t microwave). Make sure it’s not hot before pouring a bit onto the palm of your hands. Rub your hands together and then massage around the joints and along the bones. This can become a lovely bonding activity for you and your child as well. After massaging all the major joints and limbs, have your child take a bath or shower. It’s the perfect wind-down activity before bed.
And then, get to bed early. Bears got it right. When the nights are longer, spend more time sleeping. Take a serious look at evening activities and don’t let lighted screens encroach upon your family’s wellbeing. You deserve better.
Finally, love up your kids with extra affection. Hugs are a gentle opposite of the hard, dry, cool wind blowing around outside. Human contact is warm and full of life and counters the season as the leaves dry up and the grasses die.
Pick one or two habits from this list that light you up and have you saying, “Oh, we can do this,” and start there. Simple changes made over time are the most sustainable. Be fierce like that mama bear who knows how to protect her young from the unstable elements within and around.