Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tatty Bumpkin’s Yoga Crab Pose - Great for young muscles and minds - helping core-stability, self-regulation and concentration

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist 

This week Tatty Bumpkin is off to a ‘Fun day’ with her friend crab.

Crab Yoga activity is a classic pose often used by paediatric physiotherapists and occupational therapists as it has so many movement and sensory benefits for children.

Crab pose will give your child the opportunity to:

1. Activate and strengthen their ‘core’ muscles

When your child does crab pose they will be activating their shoulder, back, tummy and hip muscles i.e. the muscles around their middle or ‘core’.
Crab pose is excellent for strengthening your child’s ‘gluteal’ muscles - around their hips. Strong, active gluteal muscles improve balance skills for sport and may even help to prevent a ‘knock kneed’ standing and walking position in later life. Active shoulder muscles help your child to control their arm for writing. 

2. Gently alert or calm themselves to focus

As your child does crab pose they will be stimulating their ‘proprioceptive’ sense.
This sense tells us where our body is in space - whether our joints are straight or bent, whether our muscles are stretched or contracted. Hard work activities such as pushing, pulling or lifting really stimulate our proprioceptive sense e.g. tug-of war, climbing and pushing games or, indeed, Yoga poses. Yoga poses require us to lift our body off the floor in various positions i.e. as your child does crab pose they will be lifting their body off the floor to balance on their hands and feet.

Lifting your body off the floor activates your proprioceptive sense

The Proprioceptive Sense and Alertness

Interestingly proprioceptive rich activities (like pushing, lifting etc) can help us manage our levels of alertness. This is because proprioceptive input, along with deep pressure touch, is the most accepted and tolerated form of sensation by our body. 
So proprioceptive input can be: regulating, calming, soothing, organising and/or alerting, depending on the current state of our nervous system. For example, if your child is over-excited, finding it hard to concentrate, proprioceptive activities can help them to feel more grounded enabling them to focus. On the other hand, if your child is feeling drowsy, finding it hard to wake up and concentrate, proprioceptive activities can help them feel more alert – in an organised way. 

Levels of Alertness for Well-being and Learning

  • Our levels of alertness naturally alter throughout our day; in the morning we should be gradually increasing our level of alertness - to wake up, at night we should be lowering our state of alertness - so we can sleep. 
  • To learn, it’s thought our level of alertness should be somewhere in the middle – we should be 'calmly alert'. In this calm alert state, neither over excited nor drowsy, we can focus on what we are doing long enough so we can truly understand it.

The Reticular Activating System - Area Managing Levels of Alertness

  • Our Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a small area at the base of our brain with wide connections throughout our brain. All of our senses (except smell) follow nerve pathways which are connected to, and pass through, our RAS. As a result our RAS has many functions but it is thought to have a major role in the regulation of our alertness levels i.e.
    • Our RAS helps us to focus our attention, acting like a filter to dampen down the effect of repeated stimuli. For example, as you are reading this blog a fly may be buzzing at window across the room, at first you are distracted by the sound but, after a while, your RAS filters out this distant (harmless) buzzing noise allowing you to keep your attention on the blog.
Our RAS filters out unwanted/harmless sensations helping us to concentrate 
    • The information filtered and processed by our RAS contributes to its role in regulating our overall level of alertness and so our sleep/wake cycle. In the morning, our RAS system becomes more excitable, meaning we gradually become aware of incoming sensory information - maybe bird song outside or our alarm clock. As a result, we become more alert. At night time, our RAS system should be less excitable, meaning our body becomes less responsive to the world around us - allowing us to relax and sleep.
    • For our body to be at the ‘just right’ level for learning our RAS needs to be working steadily, neither over or under-excited, just steadily filtering out unwanted sensory information – keeping us in the calm alert state.

Proprioceptive Sensory Input and the RAS 

Neuroscientists have suggested that the type of sensation influences the excitability of our RAS - and so our level of arousal. I.e. 
  • Light touch, auditory (hearing) and painful sensations follow pathways that have close connections with our RAS. This is what we might expect as these sensations are often associated with danger. To go back to the example of the fly, you may have been able to ignore the distant buzzing - your RAS effectively filtering it out. However, if the fly suddenly buzzes loudly in your ear and touches your face your RAS would be instantly excited. You would become hyper-alert to the fly but your attention would have moved away from the blog.

Concentration is lost. 
  • In contrast, it is thought that deep touch and proprioceptive sensations follow neural pathways which are not so closely connected with our RAS. Indeed, the processing of these types of sensations may actually result in our RAS becoming less excitable. This theory may explain why proprioceptive activities and deep massage help us to feel more grounded and less anxious.

Tatty Bumpkin Crab Yoga  Activity 

Try to do crab pose with your child, or encourage brothers and sisters to join in, as: 
  • Young children learn new movements best by copying the actions.
  • Research shows that young children bond with their parents and ‘key people’ not only through touch but also by moving with them.
  • Crab pose will give you a great opportunity to stretch out tight muscles and to activate your tummy, back, shoulder and hip muscles!

Crab Pose Pointers

  • Find a non-slip mat or an area of carpet where you can do crab pose with your child. Make sure you both have enough room around you to avoid bumps and knocks.
  • Take off your socks and shoes-far better to do crab pose with bare feet. With bare feet your child will slip less and will be able to do the pose accurately. Interestingly we rely on sensory information passed up through the soles of feet to balance.  
  • Start by sitting alongside your child with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor – encourage them to copy you.
  • Then show your child how they can place their hands on the floor behind them and then lean back onto their hands to wave their feet in the air.
  • Once your child has the idea of taking weight through their arms, encourage them to lean back on their hands again - only this time show them how they can push up through their feet to lift their bottom and hips off the floor. 1, 2, 3, push up to crab!
Push through hands and feet into crab pose!
  • Now you should both only be balancing on your hands and feet in crab pose!

Progressions for Crab Pose  

  • In crab pose encourage your child to try walking like a crab, forwards, backwards, even sideways. 
  • Play crab football with your friends using a foam ball!        

Younger children

  • If your child is younger they will find it easier to crab pose - balancing on their shoulders rather than their hands. 
  • Guide your child to lie on the mat or carpet with their knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Then encourage them to lift just their bottom off the floor. 
  • You may need to help your child to bend their knees and position their feet flat on the floor so they get the idea of pushing up through their feet to lift their bottom off the floor. 
Help your child to lift their hips off the floor
  • To make this activity fun, pass toys underneath! Whilst they are playing with the suggested props supervise your child closely and NEVER leave them unattended, or with another child.

The Tatty Bumpkin Adventure this Week 

Remember, for you and your child to gain the full benefit of all the Tatty Bumpkin Yoga and multi-sensory activities, find out about your local Tatty Bumpkin class at Or, ask your child’s nursery if they are doing Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

Our qualified Tatty Bumpkin Teachers are fully trained in aspects of child development and Yoga and are kept fully up-to-date by our professional team of paediatric physiotherapists, Yoga teachers and musicians. All the Tatty Bumpkin stores are aligned to the Early Years Foundation Stage (England) and  the Curriculum for Excellence (Scotland) this means the sessions not only enhance your child’s physical skills they also develop their communication, social and thinking skills.

Learning 'mindfulness' skills with Tatty Bumpkin

In their Tatty Bumpkin class this week they will have the chance to:
  • Improve their physical skills as they move in different ways in crab, dog and airplane poses.
  • Develop their imagination and thinking skills as they imagine they are by the sea and visiting the ‘fun day’ with crab!   
  • Progress their communication skills as they listen, creep and crawl to Tatty Bumpkin crab song and tell everyone what kind of dog they are going to be.
  • But most of all, your child will have fun with others as they fly on the airplane roundabout and ‘have a go’ at the coconut shy!

Love Tatty Bumpkin x

A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin? 

Thinking about a change of career? If you would like the 
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at 

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