We meet so many families at Kerala Ayurveda’s Academy & Wellness Center, so we’re excited that there is an easy-to-read guide on Ayurveda for parents and guardians we can now recommend to you all!
The Parent’s Complete Guide to Ayurveda: Principles, Practices, and Recipes for Happy, Healthy Kids was released August 23, 2022. We’re celebrating this book on many levels, as it was coauthored by our Academy Director + Chief Ayurvedic Specialist, Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath, and Kerala Ayurveda Academy alumnus, Alyson Young Gregory. It’s one of the first books of its kind to introduce practical guidelines utilizing traditional Indian medicine. As both parents and Ayurvedic practitioners, Alyson and Vaidya. Jayarajan created a roadmap for anyone to follow.
Here’s a sneak peak at what you’ll find in the Parent’s Guide.
Screen time is not quiet time
It can be easy to confuse screen time and quiet time, especially when you’re a busy parent. Truth be told, you may not be taking the time that you need for yourself to unplug. The reality is that too much screen time can overstimulate your child’s brain and will leave them zapped rather than energized when they need a little “quiet time.” A balanced approach to screen time is essential for your children’s physical, mental, and social well-being. And yours too! Rather than focusing on the elimination of the screen, our quiet time suggestions celebrate that Ayurveda is fun.
Here’s some ideas for quiet time activities:
- Check out audiobooks from the library (Alyson’s daughter brings her CD player outside so she can listen on a blanket or in a lawn chair!)
- Card games (older kids love solitaire once you get them started)
- Pick flowers (or “weeds”), then arrange messy bouquets with string
- Set up a still life scene, such as a bowl of fruit or flower vase. Invite your child to draw, color, or paint it.
- Puzzles! Set up a puzzle station in your home if you have the space, or try a roll-up puzzle mat if you need to stow it away in between sessions. Let the whole family join in!
- Ask your child if they’d like to create a play from a favorite book. They can write a script, think up costumes, and make tickets!
- Water games – create a water table for younger kids. Older kids love to throw a pool party for their favorite critters or dolls in a plastic bin filled with water.
Getting to sleep
Bedtime can instigate serious FOMO for some kids. No one wants to miss out on what might happen later in the night! And on top of that, life is immensely stimulating in our times, and this can make bedtime feel unnatural to your child’s state of mind and body. To relax their system and bring on the zzz’s, here are some tips for setting up a sleep transition.
- Foot massage: using a little sesame oil, gently massage into the soles of the feet. A bonus drop on the head also helps!
- Warm herbal milk: warm up a cup of milk (can be non dairy, but aim for organic and whole, with minimal processed ingredients) with a dash of nutmeg, and sweeten.
- Weighted blanket: this is a literal solution that works like a charm! The weight of the blanket will help bring the energy levels “down.”
- Calming aromas and sounds – experiment with these to see what soothes your child.
- Screen time deadline – screens stimulate us, period. Use the activities like the quiet time suggestions above to help your child engage in something enjoyable that will also help them wind down.
- Storytime – this is not just for very young children. Humans have engaged in ritual evening storytelling for all ages, for thousands of years. Solitary reading is great, too, though you just might be surprised by how much fun swapping storytelling roles can be with your kids.
Breathe into calm parenting
There’s no such thing as perfection, and your child needs you to be authentically you. That means sometimes you’re anxious, angry, sad, and any of the other “negative” emotions you might not enjoy feeling. That’s ok. Ayurveda is fun, but it’s also the “science of life.” Life is full of lulls and obstacles, too.
If you’re struggling and it’s affecting your ability to be there for your child, Ayurveda offers many quick fixes to streamline the nervous system. The most effective one you can do anywhere is literally breathe.
Alyson says, “It took me a long time to figure out that using any extra moments I had early in the morning to sort a load of laundry or clean out the fridge wasn’t REALLY what I needed to prepare myself for the day ahead—and I still need to remind myself often. Which is OK-because what parents need to practice more than anything is self-compassion! My go-to breathing exercise (almost) every morning is Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing which translates to ‘clear the channels.’ This is one of the simplest breathing techniques you can practice to reduce stress, calm anxiety, and promote clarity.”
To practice Nadi Shodhana:
- Sit and relax, closing your eyes. Take several centering breaths and come into the present moment.
- Using the right hand, block the left nostril with the ring finger.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through the right nostril.
- Then open the left nostril and close the right nostril with the thumb, exhaling slowly from the left nostril. Then inhale.
- Close the left nostril, exhale from the right nostril.
- Repeat steps 3-5 for several rounds, up to 3 minutes.
These tips are sure to help your little one, though they’re appropriate for all ages. These best practices can be embraced by everyone, so try them on yourself, and let it become a family practice of wellness!
*Note: if you experience hypertension or are pregnant, do not perform these techniques without consulting with your physician.