Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tatty Bumpkin is Blowing Feathers to Calm her Mind, Organise her Senses and Activate her Core Muscles!

By Sue Heron Programme Co-ordinator at Tatty Bumpkin and paediatric physiotherapist. 


As I sit writing this blog the wind whistles round the windows and walls. Very appropriate as this week Tatty Bumpkin finds herself in the middle of a blustery, winter's day when a lonesome feather falls to earth on front of her….

Tatty Bumpkin 'Blowing Feathers' Yoga Breath Activity 

Firstly, be safe - supervise young children at all times whilst they are playing with feathers. Feathers can go up noses, into eyes and, of course, end up being chewed or swallowed - always check for sharp ends! If your child is younger try making:
See 'Fun at Home with Kids' 

Description of Feather Activity 

Gather some feathers, felt or real. Use just a few - 2 or 3. Lots of feathers maybe great fun to start with - but your child is likely to their lose focus and become over-exited fairly quickly! Sit down with your child on a mat or on a clear space of carpet and take off your socks and shoes.  
Encourage your child to slow down and truly explore the feathers with ALL their senses:
  • Visual sense - Take time to look closely at the feather – what colour is it? It may have many colours. What shape is it? 
  • Sense of touch - Show your child how they can stroke the feather over different parts of their body: down their arms, over their nose, forehead and cheeks - ask them how it feels? The feather will feel slightly different on your nose or cheeks compared to your arms. How does it feel between your toes?!
  • Body movement senses (proprioception and the vestibular sense) - Bring in movement to your feather exploration to activate your body senses. 
    • Reach out or kneel up, throw the feather in the air, can you catch it?! 
Can you catch your feather?
    • Thread the feather between your toes and see if you can wave it in the air using just your feet! Before you do this activity with your child check they have a clear space behind them then, if they do fall backwards, they won't bump their head. Show your child how they can support themselves safely through their hands as they do this game i.e. guide them to place their hands on the floor, behind or beside them, before they lift their feet up – hopefully your child will automatically start to take weight through their hands!  

  • Oral sense - Place a small container between you both, maybe put a toy bird inside – this is the nest! Encourage your child to blow their feather towards and into the nest. As your child blows their feather they will stimulate their oral sense whilst developing their eye-hand co-ordination and attention skills. Show your child how they can balance the feather on the back of their hand to blow it - this is often easier. 
Blow your feather towards your nest - this requires concentration, breath control and eye-hand co-ordination - but it's fun to do!
  • Hearing sense - Does the feather make a sound as it moves? Does your breath make a sound? You can also do all of these activities to Tatty Bumpkin’s Feather song. This song has been specially written and composed to go with the activity - meaning the rhythm, words and melody encourage your child to engage with the game rather than be distracted by the music  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/this-is-the-life/id376347823. 


The Benefits of Blowing Feathers!

1. Mindfulness and Self-regulation
Children are naturally mindful; they can be completely absorbed by the world - exploring it with all their senses. A child is ‘caught in the moment’, not distracted by the ‘what ifs’ or
‘if onlys’. Look how your child becomes absorbed in the feather - maybe they are fully immersed in trying to thread the feather between their toes. Your child needs the space and time to cultivate this precious natural born mindfulness as it can be quickly lost in the ‘hub bub’ of life. 

Mesmerised by feathers!

Encourage slow, controlled breathing. As your child take deeper breaths to blow the feather, their heart rate will automatically slow and their blood pressure will lower slightly – helping them to calm down and relax.  

Look carefully at your child's tummy as they take their deeper breaths. You will probably notice their tummy moves outwards, as they take a deep breath in and moves inwards, towards their spine, as they breathe out. This diaphragmatic or tummy breathing is the natural breath pattern, free from social pressures ‘to keep the tummy in’! It indicates that your child is using their diaphragm muscle to breathe. Not only is this the most effective form of breathing it also leads to the activation of the core muscle area (see below). This tummy/diaphragmatic breathing pattern will help your child in times of stress and anxiety. With regular practice they will realise how breathing slowly and deeply can help them to self-regulate and calm their body and their mind.

A moment of cal

2. Sensory Processing Skills
Sensory processing is the way we take in, analyse and respond to sensory signals from our bodies the environment. Although these processing skills develop naturally as we mature and explore our world, evidence strongly suggests that early life experiences can also have a big effect on their development. Indeed sensory experiences can re-wire the brain! In their e-book 'Sensory Processing 101' http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/our-book-sensory-processing-101/ the authors (Teachers, OT and PT therapists based in the US) suggest “Thoughtful guided exposure to playful sensory experiences is the best way to promote healthy development of the sensory systems". At Tatty Bumpkin we agree wholeheartedly! 

Blowing feathers is a great way to develop your child’s oral sensory processing i.e. the way they receive, analyse and respond to information from their mouth and jaw. Children with good oral processing skills are able to:
  • Eat a variety of foods – not being overwhelmed (too much) by different textures or tastes. Not only does this mean your child has a healthy, varied diet it can also ensure that they have plenty of chewing and biting experiences just through eating and so do not seek these out in other ways – too much! 
  • Cope with experiences such as tooth brushing or visits to the dentist  
Blowing feathers for sensory processing skills

3. Activation of the Diaphragm and other Core Muscles
As mentioned above your child is likely to be engaging their diaphragm muscle as they naturally tummy breathe. The diaphragm is a vital core muscle in itself and, when working well, will help your child to activate their other core muscle i.e. those in their back, tummy and hips. If your child is learning a new skill e.g. learning to: catch a ball, skip, stand on one leg or ride a bike, guide them to take a few deep abdominal breaths before they start. These breaths will not only help your child to regulate their emotions. to calm themselves and focus, they will also help your child to activate their diaphragm and other core muscles. ‘Breath holding allows your child to compensate and not use the crucial core muscles’ http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/child-development-core-strengthening-for-kids/

Interestingly, our adult breathing pattern can be exactly the opposite to a childs. Our chest rises we take a breath in and our stomach is drawn in as we contract our tummy muscles – but our diaphragm is not engaged. Whilst this might present a pleasing profile in a mirror, it reduces the volume of oxygen available, as we only partially expand our lungs, and results in weaker core stabilisation https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/how-to-activate-your-diaphragm-to-improve-breathing-and-performance

If you are interested in learning how to retrain your breathing pattern for better posture and core stability two clear activities are shown by Blake Bowman at 'Guerrillazen Fitness'   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdGC4Qr3hfM.

Retrain your breathing pattern for better posture and care stability

So give yourself and your child a break - enjoy a few moments of exploration together with the sensory feather activity – it may well be the best thing you did all day!

Thank you to the staff and children at 'Nursery on the Green', Enfield, London for sharing their great Tatty Bumpkin class photos! 

Love Tatty Bumpkin


Would You Like to Train as a Tatty Bumpkin Teacher or Are you interested in running your own Tatty Bumpkin Franchise?


It takes hard work, dedication and enthusiasm but the rewards are immense.
  • Flexible working around your family life
  • Great job satisfaction
  • Strong financial rewards
Discover more about owning your own Franchise at  http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html

Relaxation in a Tatty Bumpkin Session



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Benefits of Yoga for Babies, Children and their Families

Our warmest thanks to Tatty Bumpkin Franchisee Sarah Gott for this guest blog on the broad reaching benefits of yoga for babies, children and their families. Sarah has been leading Tatty and Baby Bumpkin Yoga sessions in the Mid-Sussex area since 2010 http://www.tattybumpkin.com/midsussex/

In October 2016 Sarah was the first Tatty Bumpkin Franchisee to complete our ‘Advanced Children’s Yoga Teacher’ course, accredited by the Yoga Alliance https://yogaalliance.co.uk/


A Word from Sarah 

My name is Sarah Gott, yoga has been part of my life for over 25 years.  I am blessed with a supportive and loving husband and three beautiful boys ages 12, 10 and 7.  I was lucky enough to come across Tatty Bumpkin 7 years ago and this allowed me to not only practise yoga as a hobby but to make it my profession.  
My yoga journey continues and now allows me to teach yoga to all ages from mums with new babies, children in nurseries and schools, to teenagers and adults.  I am a Tatty Bumpkin Advanced Yoga Teacher, Teen Yoga Teacher and British Wheel of Yoga Adult Yoga Teacher. Who knows where my yoga journey will take me next? 
Sarah


Why Yoga is Important for Babies, Children and their Families -
The Key Benefits

Geeta Iyengar
'Nature has endowed her (woman) with the responsibility of perpetuating mankind. The wealth of a nation and health of a future generation is dependent upon her physical and mental well-being.’ Geeta Iyengar in 'Yoga: A Gem for Women'  

The above quote encapsulates the enormous responsibility we face when bringing a new child into the world. How a woman’s mental and physical well-being will affect and influence a new baby’s start in life and how yoga can support and provide a framework for them to flourish both physically and mentally which in turn, will provide strength to nurture a child’s development from birth, onwards.  







In this blog, I will discuss: 
  • How yoga and massage affects the bonding process between parent and child
  • The emotional, physical and physiological effects of yoga on babies and children
  • The importance of social interaction for new families attending classes
  • The benefits of yoga, breath awareness and relaxation for adults.
I will conclude with feedback from a parent on how my Baby Bumpkin yoga class has supported these areas. 

Yoga, Massage and the Bonding Process 

Scientific research is progressively revealing how much babies need touch and movement for the healthy development of their brains. The sense of touch develops in the fourth week in the womb, but it takes two years from birth to establish the brain connections that enable rational and caring responses. This wiring is largely based on life experiences. Touch brings with it connection and communication, stimulation and relaxation, calming and healing. 

Babies need quality interaction with the adults closest to them to feel secure and free to explore. Massage and yoga are practical ways of communicating love and affection to babies. Parents close engagement with their babies both through massaging the body and touching in general can calm the baby and parents can learn massage skills in classes and practice them at home. 

Due to the closeness of the parent and child, baby yoga enhances the non-verbal communication when babies learn to respond to facial expressions such as smiling and mimicking. Babies learn to become more responsive to different facial expressions, adding a great deal of enjoyment to the exchange between the baby and parent. Healthy bonding and attachment to loving caregivers ensures babies the emotional security so essential to their total development. 

During pregnancy and around birth, new mothers experience a release of the hormone oxytocin, associated with relaxation, connection and nurturing. Yoga stimulates the on-going, positive effects of this hormone. Loving touch also helps to regulate stress hormones, e.g. cortisol. The more often massage and yoga is practised with your baby, the greater the combined sensory effect enhance closeness. 

The power of close touch

The Emotional Effects of Yoga 

Yoga is about developing self-awareness. Recognising how stress affects us, and how it can be communicated to babies unwittingly, is the foundation of joint parent baby relaxation. Positive touch and yoga can reinforce a secure sense of stable continuity. 

With regular practise, together, a framework can be created in which baby can better regulate his/her own levels of physical and emotional arousal, attention and concentration, interest in the world or withdrawal. 

As babies grow into toddlers the yoga mat can be a neutral space where emotions can be expressed safely, boundaries negotiated and lasting trust built through a more complex interaction involving touch, movement, language and imagination. 

A secure sense of stable continuity

The Physical and Physiological Effects of Yoga

Physical elements of yoga increase fitness, flexibility and help develop core stability. However, yoga also brings broader physiological benefits to the child. As a child’s muscles and co-ordination develop, so does the density of their brain and its executive function. ‘Intentional movement’ such as yoga, has profound effects on children's ability to focus, calm themselves and filter sensory information. 

Yoga supports fitness and flexibility
Importantly, Yoga supports also ‘self-regulation’ in the body. Self-regulation refers to several complicated processes that allow children to appropriately respond to their environment (Bronson 2000). 

Movement practices, combined with appropriate mirroring develop a child’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence and self-control. Movement builds brain cells and increases the optimal functioning of every system in the body. Children's yoga is the perfect playground for active fun, developing motor skills and fitness along with social-emotional awareness and self-regulation tools. 

Tatty Bumpkin becomes a wise friend to share feelings with

Yoga and Social Interaction 

For parents, a baby yoga class often provides a social safe-haven. It’s an opportunity to be with other mums, laugh and be silly with their babies and children. Socialising with others, sharing experiences, chatting and laughing makes people happy; this in turn makes a contented happy baby or child. 

Parenthood can bring anxiety, external pressures and lack of self-confidence. Attending yoga classes together can help diffuse these feelings, bring confidence and calm and help forget about other anxieties. Just leaving the house with their babies and doing something positive will create joy and promote achievement. 

The benefits for families practising yoga together provide ways to bond, nurture and nourish the physical body, control stress through breath awareness and allow playful relationships to develop through contact, imagination and exploration of physical activity. 

A social safe-haven

Benefits of Yoga for Adults 

These are numerous! Practising yoga can bring flexibility, improve strength and posture, stretch and strengthen the body and provide opportunities to practise breath control. These in turn provide tools for stress management. 

Attending a yoga class provides ‘restorative ‘me’ time away from the distractions of home, family and work, opportunities to de-stress, receive tuition on new postures and progression of others to give confidence in home practice. Classes provide a chance to develop relaxation, breathing and meditation and a guided way to develop a more supple and stronger body. 

Anyone can practise yoga, at any age, at any time in life. As practice develops, you will find you can handle yourself better under stress, breathe to relax your body and free your mind for clearer thinking, you can become more centred, calm and balanced.


A Parent’s Perspective 

After attending a year of my Baby Bumpkin classes with her little boy, who was just 8 weeks old when they started together, a mum wrote: 

“I just wanted to pass on a big thank you for the wonderful hour we get to experience with you each week for our baby bumpkin class. It's been wonderful seeing our little ones develop through your class. This one hour is such quality and bonding time each week that I will dearly miss once I go back to work. 
When life gets, tough I will take a moment and remember the relaxation I felt each time we came to your class  I hope we will be able to keep it up and still see you for some classes in the new year. It's been the best class for babies we have attended and are forever grateful for your efforts each week in making it so enjoyable.” 

Relax!
Within this message from the new mum, she has expressed key points of the benefits outlined in this essay. She notes:
  • The regularity of an hourly class each week – providing a safe haven and routine to her and her little one in the all in important maternity leave first year. 
  • She has seen her child develop physically within the class over the months, the class allowing a framework to mark these developments. 
  • She mentions the importance of the quality bonding time she has experienced within these classes. 
  • Finally, she reflects on the importance of being able to relax with her little one and how this time has given anchor memories that will help with future stress when busy life takes over. 
As a Baby Bumpkin teacher, it's a privilege to be able to offer the benefits of yoga to families and children. To receive feedback such as the above re-enforces the good work yoga provides. 

Going back to the words of Geeta Iyengar, “Nature has endowed women with the responsibility of perpetuating mankind. The wealth of a nation and health of a future generation is dependent upon her physical and mental well-being"  I hope I have outlined in this blog how the benefits of yoga can help provide the building blocks of a healthy future generation by families practicing their yoga together. 


Sarah Gott 
Tatty Bumpkin Advanced Children's Yoga Teacher

References 

Geeta Iyengar. 'Yoga: A Gem For Women'. 2002. Timeless Books.  

Martha Bronson. 'Self-Regulation in Early Childhood'. 2000. Guildford Press. 

British Wheel of Yoga. ‘Introducing Yoga into Your life’ http://www.yoga-andrea.com/bwy-teacher.pdf .

Baby Bumpkin Training Manual. Tatty Bumpkin Ltd. 

Francoise Barbira Freedman. ‘Yoga for Mother and Baby’. 2010. CICO Books.

Jackie Silberg, ‘Games to Play with Babies’. 2004. Brilliant Publications. 


Would You Like to Train as a Tatty Bumpkin Teacher? 

Are you interested in running your own Tatty Bumpkin Franchise?
It takes hard work, dedication and enthusiasm but the rewards are immense.
  • Flexible working around your family life
  • Great job satisfaction
  • Strong financial rewards
Discover more about owning your own Franchise at  http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html

Come and join the Tatty Bumpkin Team

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tatty Bumpkin's Starfish Pose - Reach out and Embrace the World in 2017

By Sue Heron programme co-ordinator at Tatty Bumpkin and paediatric physiotherapist.



We can feel bombarded with exercise and ‘life improvement’ advice at this time of year. Maybe, instead of being daunted by the challenge ahead, we should aim to take little steps to enhance our own and our children’s well-being.  

At Tatty Bumpkin we believe it all starts with playing and having fun. Frequent bouts of exercise are vital for a young child so keeping the enjoyment and motivation is key. Little and often movement breaks can build up throughout the day.



Chief Medical Officer's Guidelines on Activity

The Power of the Stretch

A young child’s bones will grow ‘automatically', at specialised areas in their bones called ‘growth plates’, but their skeletal muscles need movement to lengthen and grow. 
  • Skeletal muscle (the type of muscle which moves our body and limbs) is composed of spaghetti-like structures called myofibrils. These bind together to form a cable-like structure - our muscle fibres. 
  • At birth, a baby has their full complement of muscles. However, during childhood, their muscle growth does NOT happen automatically – it occurs by: 
    • Existing muscle fibres growing in size – main cause 
    • Addition of myofibrils to increase the muscle mass 
    • Addition of further groups of myofibrils at the ends of the existing muscle fibres to increase the muscle's length. All these processes are powered by physical movement in ALL directions
  • In modern life it can be a challenge to stretch and move muscles regularly in every direction. Even from a very young age we can spend a long time sitting. This leads to certain muscles not having their daily dose of movement. 
Let’s remember though - we are going to start with little steps …. This week in Tatty and Baby Bumpkin classes babies, children and their parents will be doing starfish pose. This pose takes full advantage of the space around us and challenges us to see just how far we can stretch our muscles. 


Tatty Bumpkin’s Starfish Pose


Stretch out as a starfish!
Find a space on a carpet, or mat, where you and your child can safely move and balance without being in danger of falling on anything. 
Ideally, try to do Starfish pose with your young child, or encourage brothers and sisters to join in, as: 
    • Children under 3 years mostly learn new movements by copying the actions.
    • Research shows young children bond with their parents and ‘key people’ not only through touch but also by moving with them.
    • Starfish pose will give you a chance to stretch out your upper chest and shoulder muscles! Remember if you have issues with your muscles or joints - do check with a health professional first to make sure that this pose is appropriate for you.  
  • Take off your shoes and socks. From about 4 years, children start to use their ‘body senses’ to balance. If your child does starfish pose with bare feet they will get accurate, sensory information though the soles of their feet to help them to balance. 
  • Start standing opposite your child with your feet hip width apart and your arms by your side. Imagine you are on a beach and take a few deep breaths of the sea air. Encourage your child to copy you. These deep breaths help your child to focus their attention onto their body, they also support your child to activate their deeper postural muscles – helping them to do the pose.
  • Start active, making it fun. Encourage your child to walk, or jog, on their mat/carpet area for a few seconds (30 secs is fine) by pretending to ‘go for a walk (or run) on the beach’.
  • Then imagine you see a starfish lying on the sand! Count 1, 2, 3 and jump or step your feet apart, stretching your arms out to either side in starfish pose. Use your voice, body movements and facial expressions to encourage your child to copy you and be a five limbed starfish stretched out on the beach! 
  • You may find your child does not fully stretch out their arms. If this is the case, repeat the pose a few times making your movements very clear. You may have to gently straighten your child’s arm if they are still unsure. I remember a four year old having great difficulty straightening one arm in a Tatty Bumpkin class. This was not because they could do it – rather they had never done this movement before, or at least not very often. I suspect their mental body image in their brain (their body schema) just did not have this shape.
  • Try to hold the starfish position for at least 10 – 20 seconds - so you both get the benefit of the stretch. Remember muscles need movement to stretch and grow!
  • After the stretch bring your legs and arms back to the starting position. Walk or run on the spot for a few seconds as before, and imagine you see another starfish on the beach - ‘1, 2, 3’.. spring, or step, into starfish pose again. Repeat the walking and starfish pose sequence a few times so your child gets the idea and you both have a gentle, stretchy workout!



To Progress Starfish Yoga Activity 

Imagine your starfishes want to say ‘hello’ to one another by waving their starfish arms. 
  • Start facing each other in starfish pose.
  • Wave your hands one at a time. These are two of your five starfish arms. 
  • Then gently nod your head to one another – this is your third starfish arm. 
  • Finally, wave your feet at each other by standing on one leg and then the other – these are your fourth and fifth starfish arms! This is a great way to develop your child’s balance skills and gently activates your own core muscles. 


Why Starfish Pose is Good for Your Child

As your child does starfish pose they will: 

1. Gently stretch their back, arm and leg muscles for lifelong good posture 
Starfish pose will give your child (and you) that lovely ‘whole body’ stretch. It’s a great Yoga activity to do after sitting for a while or after a long car journey. 
Remember, our muscles need movement to stretch and grow. A big 'starfish stretch' targets your child’s arm, chest and hamstring muscles.These muscle groups can be prone to tightness because when your child is sitting, they are held in a shortened position.

2. Develop their body awareness for body confidence
Starfish pose gives your child to a chance to feel a different body position – one which they rarely do during their day. 
Variations in body position stimulate the ‘proprioceptive sense’. This sense tells us if our muscles are ‘stretched’ or ‘squeezed', whether our joints are ‘bent’ or ‘straight’. Using information from their proprioceptive sense your child will create, and update, an accurate
image of their body shape in their mind - their body schema. Having an accurate body schema - knowing where their body starts and finishes- is deeply reassuring for your child – giving them ‘body-confidence'.

3. Gently alert or calm them-selves for learning
Stimulation of the proprioceptive sense can gently calm or alert but mostly it's ‘organising’ for young brains. If your child is feeling drowsy, battling with their homework or to concentrate on getting dressed in the morning, a few starfish poses will help them to raise their alertness levels to focus. The great thing about this pose is it does not tend to lead to over excitement. Alternatively, if your child is finding it hard to settle down to their homework or to eat supper, doing a few ‘runs and the beach’ and ‘starfish stretches’ can help them to feel more grounded and calmer.

4. Progress their balance and attention skills. And the art of persistence!
Waving starfish arms is a fun way for your child to practice standing on one leg, with-out feeling too daunted. Remember taking some deep breaths before doing the pose can help your child’s balance skills. As your child attempts to balance in starfish pose they will have to focus and ‘attend to their body’. This is a direct and playful way for your child to develop their attention and this skill can be carried over into mental tasks.
If your child finds it hard to stand on one leg, place a small sturdy box, or a small pile of books, in front of them and guide them to place one leg on top. By doing this, their brain will learn the ‘pattern of the movement’ quicker. 
Even if your child has difficulty standing on one foot to start with, they will be progressing their self-regulation and persistence skills. Keep it fun and don’t over-challenge - support them to stay calm when they fail, and gently encourage them to try again.

5. Progress their counting skills 
Bring some fun maths games into starfish pose by encouraging your child to count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, as they wave their starfish arms. 




Love Tatty Bumpkin


Tatty Bumpkin Sessions - The Tatty Bumpkin Adventure this Week

Remember, for you and your child to gain the full benefit of the Tatty Bumpkin Yoga and multi-sensory activities, find your local Tatty Bumpkin class at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/classes/find-class.html. Or, ask your child’s nursery if they
are doing Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

Our qualified Tatty Bumpkin Teachers are fully trained in child development and Yoga and are kept fully up-to-date by our professional team of paediatric physiotherapists, Yoga teachers and musicians. All Tatty Bumpkin stories are aligned to the 'Early Years Foundation Stage'(England) and the 'Curriculum for Excellence' (Scotland), they not only enhance your
child’s physical skills they develop their communication, social and thinking skills.

If your child is going to a Tatty Bumpkin class this week they will go on an adventure with Tatty Bumpkin to the seaside to visit Starfish. Your child will have a chance to: 
  • Stretch their muscles in all directions and refine their sense of balance - as they move in and out of starfish pose and jump as frogs in Tatty Bumpkin frog pose. 
  • Progress their speaking and listening skills as say ‘hello’ to their friends and jump in time to the Tatty Bumpkin Frog song. 
  • Develop their imagination and thinking skills as they come with own ideas on how to help the starfish choose his shoes!! 
  • But most of all, your child will have fun with others as they stretch as starfish, jump as frogs, buzz as bees and finally swim with the dolphins!
Our multi-sensory Yoga inspired sessions capture young imaginations

Or A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin in 2017? 

Maybe, you are thinking of a new career for 2017, which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html

Leading a Baby Bumpkin session


Tatty Bumpkin's Starfish Pose - Reach out and Embrace the World in 2017


By Sue Heron programme co-ordinator at Tatty Bumpkin and paediatric physiotherapist.



We can feel bombarded with exercise and ‘life improvement’ advice at this time of year. Maybe, instead of being daunted by the challenge ahead, we take little steps to enhance our own and our children’s well-being. 

At Tatty Bumpkin we believe it all starts with playing and having fun. Frequent bouts of exercise are vital for a young child so keeping the enjoyment and motivation is key. Little and often movements can build up throughout the day. 

Chief Medical Officer's Guidelines

The Power of the Stretch

  • A young child’s bones will grow ‘automatically', at specialised areas in their bones called ‘growth plates’, but their skeletal muscles need movement to lengthen and grow.
  • Skeletal muscle (the type of muscle which moves our body and limbs) is composed of spaghetti-like structures called myofibrils. These bind together to form a cable-like structure - our muscle fibres.
  • At birth, a baby has their full complement of muscles. However, during childhood, their muscle growth does NOT happen automatically – it occurs by:
    • Existing muscle fibres growing in size – main cause
    • Addition of myofibrils to increase the muscle mass
    • Addition of further groups of myofibrils at the ends of the existing muscle fibres to increase the muscle's length. All these processes are powered by physical movement in ALL directions.
  • In modern life it can be a challenge to stretch and move muscles regularly in every direction. Even from a very young age we can spend a long time sitting. This leads to certain muscles not having their daily dose of movement.
Let’s remember though - we are going to start with little steps ….

This week in Tatty and Baby Bumpkin classes babies, children and their parents will be doing starfish pose. This pose takes full advantage of the space around us and challenges us to see just how far we can stretch our muscles.


Tatty Bumpkin’s Starfish Pose

Stretch out like a Starfish!

Find a space on a carpet, or mat, where you and your child can safely move and balance without being in danger of falling on anything. 
Ideally, try to do Starfish pose with your young child, or encourage brothers and sisters to join in, as: 
    • Children under 3 years mostly learn new movements by copying the actions.
    • Research shows young children bond with their parents and ‘key people’ not only through touch but also by moving with them.
    • Starfish pose will give you a chance to stretch out your upper chest and shoulder muscles! Remember if you have issues with your muscles or joints - do check with a health professional first to make sure that this pose is appropriate for you.  
  • Take off your shoes and socks. Children under 3 years mainly keep their balance by looking where they are in relation to objects around them. However, from about 4 years, children start to use their ‘body senses’ to balance. If your child does starfish pose with bare feet they will get accurate, sensory information though the soles of their feet to help them to balance. 
  • Start standing opposite your child with your feet hip width apart and your arms by your side. Imagine you are on a beach and take a few deep breaths of the sea air. Encourage your child to copy you. These deep breaths help your child to focus their attention onto their body, they also support your child to activate their deeper postural muscles – helping them to do the pose.
  • Bring in some active movement, making it fun. Encourage your child to walk, or jog, on their mat/carpet area for a few seconds (30 secs is fine) by pretending to ‘go for a walk (or run) on the beach’ 
  • Then imagine you see a starfish lying on the sand! Count 1, 2, 3 and jump or step your feet apart, stretching your arms out to either side in starfish pose. Use your voice, body movements and facial expressions to encourage your child to copy you and be a five limbed starfish stretched out on the beach! 
  • You may find your child does not fully stretch out their arms. If this is the case, repeat the pose a few times making your movements very clear. You may have to gently straighten your child’s arm if they are still unsure. I remember a four year old having great difficulty straightening one arm in a Tatty Bumpkin class. This was not because they could do it – rather they had never done this movement before, or at least not very often. I suspect their mental body image in their brain (their body schema) just did not have this shape.
  • Try to hold the starfish position for at least 10 – 20 seconds - so you both get the benefit of the stretch. Remember muscles need movement to stretch and grow!
  • After the stretch bring your legs and arms back to the starting position. Walk or run on the spot for a few seconds as before, and imagine you see another starfish on the beach - ‘1, 2, 3’.. spring, or step, into starfish pose again. Repeat the walking and starfish pose sequence a few times so your child gets the idea and you both have a gentle, stretchy workout! 


To Progress Starfish Yoga Activity 

Imagine your starfishes want to say ‘hello’ to one another by waving their starfish arms. 
  • Start facing each other in starfish pose.
  • Wave your hands one at a time. These are two of your five starfish arms. 
  • Then gently nod your head to one another – this is your third starfish arm. 
  • Finally, wave your feet at each other by standing on one leg and then the other – these are your fourth and fifth starfish arms! This is a great way to develop your child’s balance skills and gently activates your own core muscles. 

Why Starfish Pose is Good for Your Child

As your child does starfish pose they will: 

1. Gently stretch their back, arm and leg muscles for lifelong good posture 
Starfish pose will give your child (and you) that lovely ‘whole body’ stretch. It’s a great Yoga activity to do after sitting for a while or after a long car journey. 
Remember, our muscles need movement to stretch and grow. A big 'starfish stretch' targets your child’s arm, chest and hamstring muscles.These muscle groups can be prone to tightness because when your child is sitting, they are held in a shortened position.

2. Develop their body awareness for body confidence
Starfish pose gives your child to a chance to feel a different body position – one which they rarely do during their day. 
Variations in body position stimulate the proprioceptive sense’. This sense tells us if our muscles are ‘stretched’ or ‘squeezed', whether our joints are ‘bent’ or ‘straight’. Using information from their proprioceptive sense your child will create, and update, an accurate
image of their body shape in their mind - their body schema. Having an accurate body schema - knowing where their body starts and finishes- is deeply reassuring for your child – giving them ‘body-confidence'.

3. Gently alert or calm them-selves for learning
Stimulation of the proprioceptive sense can be gently calming or alerting but mostly it's ‘organising’ for young brains. If your child is feeling drowsy, battling with their homework or to concentrate on getting dressed in the morning, a few starfish poses will help them to raise their alertness levels to focus. The great thing about this pose is it does not tend to lead to over excitement.
Alternatively, if your child is finding it hard sit and settle down to their homework or to eat supper, doing a few ‘runs and the beach’ and ‘starfish stretches’ can help them to feel more grounded and calmer.

4. Progress their balance and attention skills. And the art of persistence!
Waving starfish arms is a fun way for your child to practice standing on one leg, with-out feeling too daunted. Remember taking some deep breaths before doing the pose can help your child’s balance skills. 
As your child attempts to balance in starfish pose they will have to focus and ‘attend to their body’. This is a direct and playful way for your child to progress their attention skills and can be carried over into mental tasks.
If your child finds it hard to stand on one leg, place a small sturdy box, or a small pile of books, in front of them and guide them to place one leg on top. By doing this, their brain will learn the ‘pattern of the movement’ quicker. 
Even if your child has difficulty standing on one foot to start with, they will be progressing their self-regulation and persistence skills. Keep it fun and don’t over-challenge - support them to stay calm when they fail, and gently encourage them to try again.

5. Progress their counting skills 
Bring some fun maths games into starfish pose by encouraging your child to count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, as they wave their starfish arms. 

Love Tatty Bumpkin


Tatty Bumpkin Sessions - The Tatty Bumpkin Adventure this Week

Remember, for you and your child to gain the full benefit of the Tatty Bumpkin Yoga and multi-sensory activities, find your local Tatty Bumpkin class at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/classes/find-class.html. Or, ask your child’s nursery if they
are doing Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

Our qualified Tatty Bumpkin Teachers are fully trained in child development and Yoga and are kept fully up-to-date by our professional team of paediatric physiotherapists, Yoga teachers and musicians. All Tatty Bumpkin stories are aligned to the 'Early Years Foundation Stage'(England) and the 'Curriculum for Excellence' (Scotland), they not only enhance your
child’s physical skills they develop their communication, social and thinking skills.

If your child is going to a Tatty Bumpkin class this week they will go on an adventure with Tatty Bumpkin to the seaside to visit Starfish. Your child will have a chance to: 
  • Physically, stretch their muscles in all directions and refine their sense of balance - as they move in and out of starfish pose and jump as frogs in Tatty Bumpkin frog pose. 
  • Progress their speaking and listening skills as say ‘hello’ to their friends and jump in time to the Tatty Bumpkin Frog song. 
  • Develop their imagination and thinking skills as they come with own ideas on how to help the starfish choose his shoes!! 
  • But most of all, your child will have fun with others as they stretch as starfish, jump as frogs, buzz as bees and finally swim with the dolphins!


Or A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin in 2017? 

Maybe, you are thinking of a new career for 2017, which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family
Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at http://www.tattybumpkin.com/business/index.html

Leading a Baby Bumpkin class