Stress can take a toll on kids. That’s why mom-of-five Char Sloan of Eastpointe founded Zen Play & Movement Class, a new fitness/relaxation program in Ferndale where kids learn tai chi, stretching and breathing.
The licensed massage therapist and former Gymboree teacher studied the benefits of relaxation for kids. She thought, “It would be so awesome to create a health and wellness program for kids.” First, she ran a test program for teen girls. “At the end of my class they felt a lot better, because they felt like someone understood that, ‘Although I’m a young child, I do deal with situations that have me extremely stressed out.'”
Next came the class. In the 45-minute sessions for grades 1-8, she teaches kids “playful movement exercises. So what I do is incorporate fitness moves in a fun way.” Tai chi, a slow, controlled-movement Chinese exercise style, is a huge piece. It’s simple to learn, so kids of all abilities can follow. “We do have a bit of discussion about how breathing can calm us down,” Sloan adds.
For the younger kids, there’s a parachute and story time, too. The philosophy, as Sloan sees it, is these kids will have a way to expel energy – plus take home valuable relaxation skills that will translate into being “confident, successful adults.”
Quick Zen Tip
Char Sloan offers a simple breathing technique to help frazzled kids refocus.
- Place your index finger on one side of your nose, and press one nostril closed.
- Breathe a deep breath through your open nostril.
- Switch fingers to close the nostril you just breathed through, opening up the opposite nostril.
- Breathe out through the now-open nostril.
- Repeat steps 1-4.
“If you do that a few times, it brings fresh oxygen to your brain, and it’s a immediate relaxation technique,” Sloan explains. Feeling sluggish, tired or need a “boost” for an upcoming test? “It’s like a natural energy wake-up.”