Natural Health News and Articles

Yoga and Kids: A Perfect Alignment

When I was a kid the only yogi I knew was Yogi Bear.  Clearly, the times they are a-changing.   With yoga rising in popularity—a recent article in the New York Times Magazine estimated up to 20 million people may be doing downward dog up from just 4 million in 2001—it’s not all that surprising that yoga is filtering down to our kids as well.

“Yoga has a lot of physical benefits [for children] like working on gross and fine motor skills through doing the poses,” says Julie Phillips, a yoga teacher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  “It can also help with anxiety especially the breathing work.  Kids talk about stress and feeling nervous about homework or a test so it’s a way to help them master some stress-relieving techniques.”   Not only that but yoga has been shown to help improve sleep, encourage better digestion and provide higher levels of concentration.  For example, Julie likes to foster good listening skills by having kids work together.  Two favorites are a mirror game where children are paired up and must copy what each other is doing and a memory game where everyone stands in a circle and must do all the poses done by the previous classmates.

While yoga is great for all ages, it obviously varies by maturity level.  Mommy-and-me baby and toddler classes tend to focus on spending time together and having fun while tot classes (generally ages 3-5) are more about burning off excess energy.

With her class of 4- and 5-year old students at the playspace NEST, Julie likes to incorporate yoga with more traditional games like freeze tag—when the music stops the kids freeze into a certain pose.  She also talks about the yoga philosophy and even teaches chants in song form to help the kids remember.

By the time kids hit later grade-school age they are often ready for more serious yoga that looks similar to what adults practice.  While she enjoys teaching all ages, with her background as a school social worker, Julie found her greatest feelings of accomplishment came when she taught a yoga class at a school in an impoverished neighborhood that also encouraged discussion.  “Kids through movement found comfort and trust with the group to talk about difficult subjects,” she says.  “Things came out about abuse at home and violence they had witnessed.  It was very therapeutic physically and emotionally.”   Regardless the age, anyone can enjoy yoga—just ask Julie’s 2-year old daughter Chloe.  After only a few mommy-and-me classes she now gets her mat out, sits with her legs crossed and chants “ohm!”

Kristen Stewart is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at


Natural Health News and Articles

Kids and Migraines: What You and Your Family Need to Know

Few things are harder for parents than seeing their kids in pain—and no one needs to tell this to the 10 percent of families that have school-age children with migraines.

Unlike in adults, migraine pain in children isn’t always as pronounced and can lead to difficulty in diagnosis. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting and/or abdominal pain are common symptoms in kids for example but not necessarily typically associated with migraines. Other tip offs can include everything from irritability and mood swings to food cravings or loss of appetite to fatigue and yawning.

While migraines can sometimes be hard to determine as the culprit in a child’s discomfort, there are some clues that can help point the finger. Specifically, a child with one parent who experiences migraines has a 40 percent chance of having migraines also. That percentage increases to 90 if both parents suffer from them. Motion sickness and certain sleep issues such as night terrors, sleep walking and sleep talking may also be indicators of a tendency to experience migraines.

The first step to getting help is finding the correct diagnosis. If migraines are suspected it’s important to see a healthcare professional for a complete patient (and family) history. This can include everything from description of the pain and how bad it is to how often it’s experienced and for how long. Other symptoms should also be discussed along with the possibility of any patterns or triggers. Medical tests may also be undertaken including an EEG, a blood test and neuroimaging among others.

Once a diagnosis of migraine is reached, successful treatment becomes the next goal. This can be achieved on several levels.

Kids & Migraines: Prevention

Obviously the most preferable, this method prevents the migraines from even starting. Discerning a child’s trigger(s) is important for this to work. Triggers in children can be similar to those found in adults such as not getting enough sleep, not eating at regular intervals, stress, environmental issues (loud noises, bright lights or strong odors), changes in the weather, eating certain foods and in the case of girls hormonal fluctuations. While a few of these cannot be controlled, many can be by careful habits.

Herbs and supplements such as magnesium, riboflavin and feverfew among others may also be helpful for kids who suffer from many migraines. (Always consult with a healthcare professional before giving supplements or herbs to a child.)

Finally, some families find they are able to ward off migraines using means such as biofeedback, hypnosis, imagery and other relaxation techniques. Exercise, acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy are other possibilities to explore.

Kids & Migraines: The Future

To the extent possible it’s important to try to get childhood migraines under control. Not only do they cause pain and other debilitating symptoms but even just the anxiety and fear kids experience thinking they might have a migraine can wreak havoc on their enjoyment of school and social activities.

In some cases children can look forward to growing out of their migraines but others may suffer with them for decades with 60 percent of kids who started having them in adolescence still experiencing them decades later.

By Kristen Stewart
Kristen is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at





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