Growing up as a highly sensitive child, I felt everything. I felt my own emotions as well as the emotions of others. People would always put me down for being too sensitive and taking everything to heart. I was made to think it was bad to feel this way. To feel my emotions so strong and as a result I was afraid to express myself.
By age 12, I had already experienced my first anxiety attack and it was huge. Eventually, I started suffering from depression too. It wasn’t until I found yoga that my life changed. For the first time ever I could calm my mind without prescription medication or alcohol. Meridian-based yoga therapy was the answer to my prayers.
I now know these strong emotions are my ‘superpower’. They give me the ability to feel other people’s energies and I’m able to help and heal people through yoga therapy because of it. Being able to guide children through their emotions is so important as I know if these emotions aren’t managed, they can become ‘stored’ in their body causing pain and disease.
What is yoga therapy?
To understand meridian-based yoga therapy, it’s important to learn the basis of yoga and yoga therapy first. Yoga works to harmonise the body and mind through breathing techniques, meditation and movement. The whole body is worked, physically, mentally and emotionally. (And the kids find it fun!) Yoga therapy applies the foundations and tools practiced in yoga, to overcome a certain problem or issue a child is facing.
Understanding meridian-based yoga therapy
Our bodies are full of meridians. I like to imagine them as roads within us. Roads that energy travels on with fuel for our organs, muscles and glands. Our bodies become sick when these roads are blocked, or when our Qi is stagnated. In traditional Chinese culture, Qi is the body’s vital life force, or energy force.
Meridian-based yoga therapy ensures we have a harmonious flow of Qi. It works to bring balance back to the body through highly targeted movements and focused breathing techniques. Meridian energy lines are used to gain access to specific areas. Think of it as being similar to acupuncture, but with this type of yoga therapy, breath and movement is used.
The children I teach usually tell me they can feel a fuzzy sensation throughout their body. This is the blood settling into all the right areas. The tweens and teens can notice how their mind just relaxes back to where it belongs. Somewhere nice and quiet.
Connecting meridians and emotions
Emotions can be connected to certain meridians in the body. Identifying these can have amazing outcomes when working with children’s mental health. For example, if a child is showing signs of worry or anxiety, they may have an imbalance in the stomach and spleen meridians. If they are showing excessive signs of frustration or anger, this can relate to a liver imbalance.
To balance these emotions out, these specific organs need to be focused on. Moving and breathing in certain ways allows the meridians to breath blood into these organs, detoxing and cleaning them out.
When the child moves and breathes in a certain way, the meridian breaths blood into the organs helping to detoxify them. As the organs and meridians relate to specific emotions, this process results in rebalancing them.
Recently, I treated a child who became very anxious about going back to school. I gave her a few exercises to do everyday. Very quickly she noticed how her mind calmed down and her thoughts almost disappeared. Since yoga therapy works on a physical level rather than mental, these exercises allowed her to release the blockages in her meridians and clear the issue.
Whenever I’m feeling anxious I like to practice the ‘5-4-3-2-1’ coping technique.
5. I acknowledge five things I can see, such as my laptop or even a pen.
4. I acknowledge four things I can touch. This could be my arms or my hair.
3. I acknowledge three things I can hear. The wind, or birds chirping in the distance.
2. I acknowledge two things I can smell. The smell of dinner cooking or my favourite essential oil.
1. I acknowledge one thing I can taste. Perhaps what I ate for lunch.
This technique always helps me come back to the present, and I find it can be very helpful for my kids too.
The benefits of meridian-based yoga therapy
I loved meridian-based yoga therapy as it gives children the tools to deal with their emotions.
They discover ways to calm themselves and the noise in their heads, increasing their focus whilst attaining a stronger sense of self.
This therapy can benefit children with:
- Coughs, colds or sore throats
- Downs syndrome
- Eating disorders
- Focus, attention or concentration issues
- Hearing/visual impairment
- Intellectual disability
- Lower back issues
- Mental health issues
- Physical disabilities
- Stress and anxiety
- Weight issues
It’s interesting to learn that often this type of yoga therapy is much more effective in children. I believe this is because they have an eagerness to learn and grow. They are much more open to new ideas than adults and they listen intently when you give them the knowledge to control their health and their body.
Meridian-based yoga therapy gives children a solution. It’s more than just movement. It’s a vital tool for when your kids are stressed, overly emotional or going through a traumatic experience. Yoga encourages confidence, awareness, support, friendships and overall wellbeing for healthy bodies and healthy minds. The best part is, yoga is for everybody!