Lindsay Bayer

Children's Author, Child/Family Yoga Instructor, Curriculum Developer, Education Consultant

"STaRT" and "Fist Squeeze Art" to Handle Anger and Difficult Feelings

At Yoga & Story Time this month we discussed how to use yoga to handle intense feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment. In this class, children and their caregivers specifically learned:

  1. How deep breathing can help us become clearer to make better choices 
  2. How to move in ways that are helpful instead of harmful 
  3. and Ways to turn MAD energy into CREATIVE energy

To begin, we read the book Emily's Tiger which is a sweet, multi-generational story about how a grandmother helps her granddaughter relax to handle her outbursts and frustrations. You can learn more about this adorable book and order it here. 

After reading, the families learned a simple word we to remember when feelings of anger or frustration begin to bubble up: STaRT.

STaRT stands for: Stop, Take A deep breath, Relax, and Twist.

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We learned several twisting yoga poses because twisting creates more space in the body. This space allows our breath and our energy to flow better to give us an emotional lift. Twisting also allows us to look in different directions. When we see the world from different angles and perspectives, we can often get a different perspective on whatever is making us mad or upset. One of the twisting poses we practiced was the reclined belly twist. This is a great one to practice after you STOP, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, and RELAX!

After some twisting yoga, we practiced a combination deep breathing and art activity called FIST SQUEEZE ART. With a sheet of paper in our hands we made tight fists, putting all of our energy tightly into our hands (and the paper). Then we took a deep breath, and when we exhaled, we unclenched our fists and relaxed. Next, we took the crumpled paper and opened it up, noticing all of its bumps and crinkles. We talked about how all of the fist-squeezing energy just went into that piece of paper and how, when we're feeling really angry, we can do this exercise to transfer the mad energy from our bodies into the paper.

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We then took some time to turn our crumpled paper into something beautiful. Each child colored in the shapes, lines, and squiggles that were made on the paper. Kids were encouraged to make their paper look however they wanted: some used bright and cheerful colors, others created realistic drawings, and some made designs that made them feel calm and peaceful. It was a great way to learn how to turn red-hot energy into calm and creative energy.

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If you missed this fun and helpful class and want to learn more ways to use yoga to handle big emotions, email me at lindsay@lindsaybayer.net. I'm happy to share more poses, activities, and resources for your home or classroom.

And don't forget to sign up for our next FREE family yoga class celebrating Cinco De Mayo! Click here for all the details and to register.