This article is written by guest contributing writer Katiuscia Gray (A.K.A. Kat).

You may recognize this beautiful human as this is her second MINI SERIES, with Yoga to Cope. Her first series consisted of two episodes, one exploring “What Does Being Triggered Mean”? and her other episode ‘“What Does the Mind Body Connection Mean?” Kat was on our Yoga to Cope podcast back in October.

Kat combines the world of psychology with yoga in her practice and approach to mental and physical health. This is accomplished by integrating talk therapy with body work practices in the form of yoga to create a truly meaningful and impactful therapy for her clients. This series intention is to shine light on the dynamic changes in parents and children through this pandemic. Uncovering the complexities of emotions and this impacts both sides!

An example of Yogic Breath technique – back-to-back breathing among two siblings. Picture provided by Kat.
An example of Yogic Breath technique – back-to-back breathing among two siblings. Picture provided by Kat.

~ By Katiuscia Gray (A.K.A. Kat).

I am a parent of two beautiful children ages 21 and 16 years old. No one can prepare you for how challenging parenting can be. Let alone parenting during a pandemic YIKES! Who would have ever imagined that we would be dealing with a global pandemic in our lifetime, but at last here we are here.

In these unprecedented periods of global uncertainty, the most important thing is to realize that it is completely normal to be experiencing a wide range of emotions. The simple act of naming your emotions has been found to be beneficial.

One of the biggest feelings that has been coming up during the pandemic is anxiety. Anxiety is best described as unhelpful thinking patterns that we experience when our mind fixates on threat, uncertainty and negativity. Which is exactly what this pandemic is all about, it’s the uncertainty of it all, its fear-based.

It is important to understand that you cannot control anxiety from occurring; it is our brain’s automatic survival mechanism. It’s the part of the brain that wants to protect you from danger. However; often times the brain can become offline. It’s like having a virus in your computer, it gives you a false sense of danger when you are actually not in any danger at all. More and more children are prone to anxiety during the pandemic and most parents are seeing the effects of anxiety in their children.

In fact, 1 out of every 3 children suffer from anxiety (CDC, 2020) Not being able to go to school, not seeing their friends, minimal activities, their routine has been thrown upside down. Due to this, children have been experiencing more and more unhealthy thinking patterns. A few examples of unhealthy thinking patterns with children include:

· Catastrophic thinking- When your mind jumps to the worst-case scenario. (Ie..Your mind tells you that you have the Coronavirus and you will die).

· Fortune telling- When your mind interprets predictions as facts. (Ie. Although you studied for the test, you “know” you are going to fail, so you panic and don’t do well on the test)

· Mind reading- Assuming that you know and understand what another person is thinking. (Ie. You are talking to a friend and the friend doesn’t seem to be paying attention, so you think they don’t like me).

It is also important to understand children do not often have the language to tell you that they are anxious. Children generally feel anxiety somatically (physical sensations in the body) You will often hear children complain of stomach aches, headaches, chest tightening, heart racing, hands shaking and bouts of crying. Other signs include over eating, under eating, bed-wetting, over sleeping, or not sleeping at all, night terrors, tantrums and fighting with siblings.

There are a number of things we can do to support our anxious child during the pandemic. First is to recognize and validate their emotions. It is important for children to know that their worries are real so validating their worries, no matter how silly it may seem to you, makes them feel a sense of relief.

Children, even the older ones, look to their parents to gauge how big of a deal something is. Kids look at us and cue off us not only when you are physically hurt, but when they are emotionally hurt as well. One of my go to interventions for children to regulate their emotions is a yoga pose called back-to-back breathing.

You can do this with your child or they can do it with a sibling. It is a safe and comfortable way of offering loving contact and invites children to expand their awareness outside of their own bodies. I do this often in my practice and children often say they feel calmer and more connected after this practice, because they can feel the other person by them and it makes them feel safe.

How to do back-to-back breathing:

1) Begin by sitting back to back with your partner in a simple cross-legged position, closing your eyes here if that feels comfortable for you.

2) Begin to take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, feeling the support of your partner behind you.

3) Start to notice your partners breathing, how does it feel? What do you notice? Begin to see if you can become in sync with each other and allow the breathing to connect to your body. Noticing with each exhale, you are becoming calmer and calmer. Stay here as long as you feel comfortable, and when you are ready slowly open your eyes and come back to the present moment.

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