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Parenting Press: How Hand Yoga Helps Kids Relax

How Hand Yoga Helps Kids Relax

Mudras, ancient gestures which can be called hand yoga, will relieve tension in as little as a minute or two. They’re ideal for kids whining about being stuck in traffic or overwhelmed by homework.

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Emily Fuller Williams, a massage therapist who has researched mudras for more than a dozen years, is the author of Mudras: Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress, and she’s seen how mental health therapists use these simple exercises to help children focus.

As Williams says, “Ever seen a child wiggle his hands at his ears? Or someone pull on his ears? Both gestures can help you release anger. . .Ever seen someone play with his fingers, running the fingers of one hand up the other hand and down again? That playful gesture clears the mind, allowing you to think more clearly.”

None of the mudras require special equipment, and they can all be done from a sitting position, so they’re easy for passengers in a car to try, or when a child is seated in time-out, or when any of you are struggling with tension. Williams suggests you spend three minutes on your first mudra, about the same time you’ll spend listening to a song on the radio. Soon you’ll probably find out which mudras are effective in much less time.

An easy calming mudra:

  • Sit straight and tall
  • Bend your elbows so your forearms point upright and your hands are at ear level.
  • Stretch your fingers straight up and rotate your hands at the wrists, as if you were screwing in a light bulb.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly as you rotate your hands.
  • Drop your hands loosely to your sides and gently wiggle them.

You’ll find two dozen mudras, complete with step-by-step directions and illlustrations, in Mudras: Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress

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