My daughter’s anger shocks me. And quite frankly, since becoming a parent, my own temper shocks me, too.
I grew up in a happy-go-lucky family household where being happy was expected. So my daughter’s intense emotions often catch me off guard. My first reaction to her outbursts is to want to make the screaming stop.
But, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to help my daughter manage her intense emotions and teach her to self-regulate in a way that honors her feelings without suppressing her personality. We’ve read books on anger, and now I’m exploring how yoga can help us both in this journey of managing big emotions.
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So, today, let’s imagine our children using yoga poses and the power of their breath to release their anger. Teach this yoga sequence below when you and your child are both calm and happy. Once you are both comfortable with this anger-reducing yoga sequence, it’ll be easier to go through the flow of the yoga postures when you start to feel the signs of anger.
Yoga research has proven to help us move from our amygdala (fight-or-flight response) to our prefrontal cortex (regulating emotions and problem-solving), so that we are able to think more clearly and make good choices. Our ultimate goal is to help our children (and ourselves) to regulate big emotions before we hurt ourselves or our loved ones mentally or physically.
5 Yoga Poses for Kids to Calm Angry Feelings
Join us for a pretend journey to the African safari through these animal yoga poses, which are specifically ordered to invite flow from one pose to the next. To start, clear a space to avoid any obstacles and practice barefoot (if possible). Don’t worry if you haven’t tried yoga before; just jump in and give it a go. Practicing perfectly aligned poses is not the focus here. The point is to release anger through movement. Adapt these yoga poses to suit your needs to make the experience your own.
WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD BEND – Pretend to be an elephant.
Stand tall with legs hip-width apart, feet facing forward, and straighten your arms alongside your body. Step your feet out wide, clasp your hands together, and take your hands above your head. Then on a loud exhale, say “Ha” and swing your arms down below your legs, pretending that your arms are the trunk of an elephant. Then, inhale while raising your hands back above your head. Repeat the strong exhale a few times to release your anger.
DOWNWARD-FACING DOG POSE – Pretend to be a jackal.
Bring your palms flat to the floor, step back to your hands and feet in an upside-down V shape, with your buttocks up in the air, and stretch like a jackal. Turn your world upside down to release your anger. Try doing that same audible “Ha” exhale to let go of your frustrations.
PLANK POSE – Pretend to be a crocodile.
From Downward-Facing Dog Pose, shift forward to balance on your palms and on your bent toes in a plank position. Keep your arms straight and your back long and flat. Pretend to be a crocodile gliding through the water. Stay in this position for a few breaths to build heat in your body. Try a breathing practice of inhaling for three counts and exhaling for three counts. On every exhale, imagine releasing your anger. Feel your body calming down.
CHILD’S POSE – Pretend to be a hippo.
Drop your knees to the ground and come back to sitting on your heels. Slowly bring your forehead down to rest on the floor in front of your knees and rest your arms down alongside your body. Pretend to be a hippo in the murky river. Take a few deep breaths to calm your mind. Try saying the mantra “I am okay” to bring yourself back to center. Imagine someone has put a blanket around you filled with love and light.
RESTING POSE – Pretend to be a lion.
When you’re ready, lie on your back with your arms and legs stretched out (or in a fetal position), like a lion. Breathe and rest. Try a lion’s breath by sticking your tongue out on an exhale. Relax your entire body. Stay in this position as long as you feel comfortable.
Tips for helping your child use yoga for calming angry feelings:
Follow your child’s response and don’t force them to flow through these yoga postures. On the first time, you might only practice one pose with a breathing technique. These anger-reducing yoga poses are meant to be a source of inspiration for you, but feel free to encourage your child’s imagination.
The purpose is to find a yoga sequence that works for you both to reduce your anger. Trying to create perfect postures is sure to fuel the anger and frustration.
This is supposed to be light-hearted and fun, and your child should feel safe to express their emotions. So focus on relaxing, not on perfecting the postures—or even on doing the “right” poses.
Afterwards, your child might be more willing to talk about the cause of their anger, or practicing the yoga poses might just be the trick for bringing them back to balance without discussing further. Honor their emotions and trust in yourself.
For more resources for helping calm angry feelings:
I’m learning to accept myself and my daughter, too. The more I resisted our intense anger, the worse it got. These yoga practices help us both to calm our minds and help us to reconnect. I hope they work for you, too!
About the Author
Giselle Shardlow is the author of Kids Yoga Stories. Her yoga books for kids get children learning, moving, and having fun. Giselle draws from her experiences as a teacher, traveler, yogi, and mom to write the yoga stories found at Yoga Stories or on Amazon worldwide. The purpose of her yoga books is to foster happy, healthy, and globally educated children. Find Giselle on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
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