Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Octopus Pose - A different way for your child to refine their balance skills...

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

In this blog I:
  • Describe how to do a Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity with your child 
  • Give you reasons why the Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity is beneficial for your child 
  • Give you some ideas on progressions for the activity.

This week’s Tatty Bumpkin Yoga Activity is 'Octopus'

In all the Tatty Bumpkin Yoga poses we encourage parents and carers to do the pose along with their child. This is because children learn a great deal from watching others, especially those who are important in their life. In addition, moving together strengthens the emotional bond and, finally doing the pose gives you a chance to have a break and a stretch! Remember though, if you have any concerns whether you should do octopus pose always consult a health professional. If you feel any pain - do stop.
  • Firstly find a non-slip mat or an area of carpet where you can do Octopus pose with your child. Make sure you both have enough room around you to avoid bumps and knocks. 
  • Take off your socks and shoes, it’s far better to do Octopus pose with bare feet. Interestingly we rely on sensory information passed up through the soles of feet to balance.  

Octopus Pose Pointers! 

Waving hands and feet as octopuses!
  • Find 4 (blue/green) streamers or ribbons and sit down with your child on the floor - facing each other. Give2 streamers to your child and keep 2 for yourself. Always use common sense when using the suggested props. Supervise your child closely whilst they are playing with the prop/toy and NEVER leave them unattended, or with another child.  
  • To start, wave your own streamers in the air with your 'octopus' arms - draw big circles or 'wriggly' shapes in the air using big arm movements - then encourage your child to copy you. As they wave their streamers, support your child to reach up high above their head and to reach out wide to either side. Automatically your child will be stretching out their arm, shoulder and back muscles and developing their balance skills. 
  • Now thread one of your streamers between your toes and help your child to do the same. Encourage your child to wriggle their toes and foot to move their streamer. This activity will bring your child's awareness to their feet and toes - helping them have a clearer picture of where their body begins and ends.
  • If your child is older encourage them to thread their streamers between their toes on both feet. Then show your child how they can put their hands down on the mat/carpet behind their back, so they can lean back safely on their hands to wave their feet and streamers in the air!
Rainbow Octopus!

Want to Make it Harder? 

  • This is a great game - be a giant octopus! You can do this game with your child or they can do it with a friend - this might be easier as they are likely to be of similar heights. 
  • Start the pose by guiding your child to sit with their back towards you (or their friend). Make sure you are not not sitting too close together as you need to lean back against each other for support. 
  • Then see if you and your child can lift one, or both, of your feet off the floor and wave them in the air. Can you wave your arms and legs in turn to count out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Octopus tentacles! 
Be a 'giant octopus' with a friend!

If your Child is Younger...

  • Find a wall space which you can safely lean against with your child. Guide your child to sit with their back to the wall and their legs stretched out in front. Together, thread your ribbons/streamers between your toes. 
  • Show your child how they can shuffle their bottom a little way from the wall and lean back against it for support. In this position they may be able to wave one or both of their feet in the air- waving their steamer as they do so!  
  • Once your child has the idea of balancing on their bottom – you can progress them onto the activity described above - where they are using their hands to support themselves as they wave their foot, or feet, in the air. Take this slowly though – young children find it hard to get the idea of bracing their shoulders and elbows so they can support themselves through their arms – especially in this position. Once mastered though this is a really good activity for young children as often children lack good strength in their shoulders and arms and this can effect their fine motor (hand) skills. 

Why Octopus Pose is Good for Your Child

As your child does Octopus pose with you they will be:

1. Progressing their balance skills 
As your child does Octopus pose they will be refining their automatic ‘postural reactions’ which form part of our 'balance mechanism'.  Balance is a complex process. Researchers believe that a child's balance is not fully mature until they are about 7-8 years old. Children refine their balancing skills by moving in and out of a wide variety of positions - its NOT just about practicing standing on one leg! The swaying and leaning movements of Octopus pose challenge the child to:
  • Anticipate the change of position and possible loss of balance. When your child places their hands down on the mat - so they can use them for support when they wriggle, move or lift their feet in the air - they are preparing their body for the possible loss of balance. This ability to prepare for, or to anticipate, a loss of balance is a critical skill - which, once learnt, will protect your child throughout their life.  
  • Keep their balance as they do Octopus pose, waving their hands or feet in the air. Your child will be able to keep their balance in Octopus pose by refining their automatic 'righting' and 'equilibrium' reactions (both postural reactons). These reactions enable your child to move their head, body and limbs freely and independently. 

2. Stretching and strengthening their hamstring and thigh (quadricep) muscles
As your child bends and straightens their legs in Octopus pose they will be stretching and strengthening both their hamstring and quadracep muscles. The hamstring muscles run down the back of the thigh whilst the quadricep muscles run down the front. If these muscles are strong and supple your child will find walking, running, going up/down hills and steps much easier and will be able to keep going for longer! 

3. Activating their tummy muscles
As your child waves their legs and arms in the air they will be working their tummy muscles hard. Encourage your child to keep their arms and legs well forward, in front of them, this will help them to find their balance and ‘wake up’ their tummy muscles. 

4. Developing their social skills
To be a giant octopus your child will have to work with a partner: trusting them, talking to them and feeling for their movements. Once they can do the pose with their friend they will then share the joy of achievement - and - as they count their tentacles - they will improve their maths skills!

How many tentacles do I have? 

The Tatty Bumpkin Multi-sensory Yoga Adventure This Week ..

Our qualified Tatty Bumpkin Teachers are fully trained in aspects of child development and Yoga and are kept up-to-date by our professional team of paediatric physiotherapists, Yoga teachers and musicians. All the Tatty Bumpkin stories are aligned to the Early Years Foundation Stage 2014 (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.

This week Tatty Bumpkin finds herself on the beach – Yippee! But all is not well – mermaid is crying as she thinks everyone has forgotten her birthday. Tatty Bumpkin (of course) comes to the rescue – but she will need some help. In this week’s story your child will have the chance: 

1. To improve their physical skills as they wriggle and wave in octopus pose and stretch out wide in starfish pose.

2. To use gestures or words to express their thoughts: Feeling ‘happy’ with Tatty Bumpkin on the beach, ‘caring’ for mermaid and feeling ‘curious’ and ‘brave’ as they explore the ocean. 

3. Come up with their own ideas and feel confident to talk about them e.g. Wondering who is crying and deciding what they can make mermaid for her birthday. 

4. Become more aware of their breathing as they blow out softly to make a sea breeze. 

5. Learn to dance to a rhythm as they move to the Tatty Bumpkin Octopus and rhythm songs. 

6. Most important of all - to have fun with their friends as they run over the hot sand, jump in the rock pools, wriggle and wave as octopus and make a card for mermaid! 

Below are some pictures of Mermaid Birthday cards - made by everyone - using their hands and feet - in Tatty and Baby Bumpkin classes. Happy Birthday Mermaid!

Find out about your local Tatty Bumpkin class at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/classes/find-class.html. Or, ask your child’s nursery if they are doing Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

Love Tatty Bumpkin x

A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin?  

Or, maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • 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 http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html.