Developing Wellness from the Inside Out
We live in a fast-paced world saturated with digital distractions and the stimulus is far greater than it was even 20 years ago…and only increasing. The digital age has brought us some amazing conveniences, but along with these conveniences come brand-new challenges, one of which is anxiety.
Anxiety is the number one mental health problem facing children and adolescents today. The National Institute of Health reports a 20% increase in anxiety disorders among children. They estimate that 30% of teenagers suffer from too much anxiety.
Stephanie Esser, RYT-200, a former elementary school teacher, and a Yoga Calm® Youth Instructor began to see, firsthand, the effects of this stress on children. After experiencing the stress-reducing effects of her own practice, she was driven to share the tools of mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation techniques to help kids feel calm, confident, and connected. In 2016, she started her own business called Balancing Elephants (“BE”) teaching and promoting children’s wellness using the Yoga Calm® curriculum.
One of her favorite quotes used to describe her mission is from Jon-Kabat Zinn,
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
Viewing the classroom as an excellent platform to share these tools, Stephanie joined the1000-Petals Move Mindfully Team as a Residency Instructor teaching mindfulness and movement strategies to cultivate healthy classroom communities. Using a variety of props to engage and teach students how to calm and connect to their minds and bodies, Stephanie had an “ah-ha” moment and got to work designing a tool to support these teaching practices. Enter the BE Buddy™!
The idea for the BE Buddy™ came while teaching a classroom of kindergarteners how to practice belly breathing with a ”breathing buddy” (a stuffed animal placed on the child’s belly while laying flat on the back) to promote breath awareness and relaxation. The younger kids loved practicing belly breaths while giving their buddy a “ride up high in the sky!” Stephanie used her own kid’s Beanie Baby collection with the students but grew frustrated when some rolled off the child’s belly causing a distraction in the midst of the lesson. This sparked an idea to create a multipurpose/multisensory tool to assist in teaching these brain-body practices.
About The BE Buddy™
The BE Buddy™ is a multisensory comfort pal, breathing buddy, and eye pillow created to help kids tap into their internal world to promote healthy self-care habits and overall well-being. It is a therapeutic tool to help kids learn breath awareness and relaxation to calm the nervous system. It is made of a printed eco-friendly canvas front in a lovable animal character theme and soft patterned velvet back. Each one is filled and weighted with flaxseed and lavender to sculpt to the belly and to add a calming effect. Its feathery marabou “hair” is a fun visual while practicing breathwork.
In the midst of Mental Health Awareness Week, now is the time to empower our children with the tools to feel calm, confident and connected. The BE Buddy™ is a tangible tool encouraging kids to develop strategies to promote healthy habits for life!
Bernie The Bear, Barkley the Dog, Felix the Fox, and Hamm the PIg will be available on October 8th! Sign-up http://bit.ly/BEListJoin to find out when the cart opens!
Why are these Practices Important?
Kids are increasingly becoming more and more disconnected from themselves and the world around them. Because of technology, we now have very little control as to the amount of anxiety-producing situations kids are exposed to. We live in a volatile, ever-changing and uncertain world, so we must equip our youth with tools to better manage these stressors. Carving out time to implement mind/body practices will help prepare children with the tools to manage mental, emotional and physical health in a fast-paced world.
Did You Know?
“Of all the physiological systems in the body, breathing is the only one we can consciously control. All it takes is attention and practice.”
Lisa Flynn, Yoga For Children, 2013
Who Will the BE Buddy™ Help?
Everyone can benefit from these practices because we all have stress in our lives and our bodies are not born knowing how to deal with stress. Learning and practicing these mind/body strategies will produce healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Developing a healthy stress response will trickle into all areas of your life in a positive & healthy way.
Children must be given opportunities to draw attention away from the overwhelming and chaotic world. The BE Buddy™ is a tangible reminder and tool to help kids connect with themselves and the world around them. Our vision is to fuel the educational and home environments with tools to promote empathy, connection and peace in a society that could benefit from taking time to pause and connect.
“There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots, and the other is wings.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe