I think bath time is THE perfect place to practice relaxation. When my daughters were little, I would bring in the bubbles, turn down the lights, create a bouquet of flowers from the garden, play some soft music and diffuse some lavender into the air around the tub. I still do this for myself when I get the chance, (and notice that they are doing the same from time to time).
Practicing relaxation techniques while in the bath is a perfect way to infuse relaxation into your daily routine. After the kids were playing with the slime toys, body paints, bubbles and splashing are complete and before the water gets too cold, you can take a moment to put on some relaxing music practice your favorite deep breathing techniques with your child. Let the relaxing music be a signal that relaxation practice is about to begin. And, be sure to practice after all the initial fun of bath time has already happened.
Here are some deep breaths to try out in the bath:
Explain to your child that you are going to do some rainbow breathing, just like the little rainbows you can see in the bath bubbles. Start with your hands to your sides. As you breathe in raise your arms slowly in an arc to make a circle with your hands above your head. Imagine rainbow colors trailing behind your hands as your hands raise upward. Pause as your hands touch at the top. Now slowly breathe out as your hands slowly move in an arc and return to where they started at your sides. Repeat to make several rainbows.
Body Paint Tummy Breathing
Use bathtub body paint to paint a heart, star, smiley face or other favored design on your child’s tummy or on her hand and have her place her hand on her tummy. Now have your child place her hand on the design. As she breathes in, count to three and and ask her to feel her tummy expanding out, moving her hand outward. Then, as she breathes out, ask her to notice how her hand collapses back down. Explain to her it is like a wave. When she breathes in the wave gives her hand a ride out, as she breathes out, her hand rides back in. In and out. Repeat.
Photo credit: © Tigatelu | Dreamstime.com
Sea Turtle Relaxation
Sea Turtle swim in the deep ocean. Since you are in the bath, you can relax just like a sea turtle. They float peacefully and calm through the currents in the ocean. First, let’s take a couple of deep breaths. One, in (1-2-3), out (1-2-3). Two, in (1-2-3), out (1-2-3). Now, pull your energy back into your shell with a few deep breaths. If appropriate, you can add a self hug “shell” to provide the kinesthetic, tactile feedback as well. Imagine that all of your energy is coming right back to you and that you are pulling it inside your shell to focus and relax. For an extra variation on this technique, please visit my other blog post: http://wp.me/p2BJYZ-8K
Starfish breath is a counting breath. We are going to breathe in, counting the arms of your starfish. Then we breathe out, counting the arms of your starfish. Hold up your hand. That is your starfish! Now use your other hand to count the starfish arms as you breathe in. Let’s try it! Pointing to each finger or “arm of the starfish,” breathing in, count 1-2-3-4-5, then breathe out, counting 1-2-3-4-5. Repeat.
Explain to your child that you are going breathe making the sound of the ocean. And, since she is already in the warm bath, you might want to invite her to close her eyes and pretend that she is resting in the ocean. Imagine listening to the waves, feeling the sea breeze, watching the sea gulls fly overhead.
- Start by holding the hand held mirror in front of you, (or hold your hand up, palm facing inward, holding a pretend mirror if you don’t have a real one). Take a full breath in, breathing slowly and allowing the stomach to expand while you inhale. Then exhale, forcing the air out like you are trying to fog up the mirror. Allow the back of your throat to constrict, just slightly to make the “haaaah” sound while exhaling. It might sound a bit like hissing. No need to push or force, just allow. It should be very soothing, sounding like the roar of the waves upon the sand. Repeat this practice several times.
- Once your child understands how to make the sound through her mouth, she is ready to try it while inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Inhale through the nose, gently constricting the throat and passage of air. Pause. Exhale, gently constricting the throat and pushing the air back out. Pause.
- Remember to exhale as long as possible and pause slightly after the exhale if possible. This allows for ultimate relaxation within the body.
Essential Oils In The Air
To enhance the relaxation atmosphere around the bath, you could create an Essential Oil Cloud by using a diffuser to vaporize an oil/water mixture and release it into the air. There are several fun kid-themed diffuser varieties on the market. I love these:
I love lavender as a relaxing smell to add to the air. Sweet orange or mandarin is also safe to diffuse into the air around your child. I only recommend these three, since they are the three I have experience with using with children. Please do research before experimenting with other smells since some are not safe for use with children and can actually cause harm rather than promote calm.