Mindful Family: Ways to Bring Your Family Closer to Nature

Earlier this year, I was out on a hike with my boys when we crossed paths with another family on the trail. The mother was trying, in vain, to get her family’s attention by pointing out a woodpecker busily searching for food in a nearby tree. Both her children AND her significant other had their heads down staring at their phones. She got a few “cool, honey” and “sure, mom” responses, though none of them even glanced up at the tree.

The look on her face told me she was at her breaking point, so I ushered my kiddos past (to a chorus of “but mommy, it’s a woodpecker!” pleas) to give her some privacy. Shortly after we rounded the next curve, I heard her lay into her family about putting the phones down and experiencing nature.

One thing I heard her say really got me thinking. She asked, completely exasperated, why they couldn’t just “be mindful of what is happening around them rather than what is going on everywhere else”. I may have been unintentionally eavesdropping (in my defense, she was saying this VERY loudly!), but she did have an excellent point!

Two young boys hiking along a gravel trail surrounded by trees with an REI kids backpack on.

With so much information and technology right at our fingertips, it can be easy to tune out what is happening around us as we tune into the latest news, gossip, trends, etc. This can leave us feeling stressed out, unproductive, and out of touch with our own reality.

But how can we counter these feelings when so much of our lives (such as work, recreation, and family/friend connections) relies on tuning into the technology at our fingertips? One option is to add a little (or a lot of) mindfulness to our lives. I can’t wait to share some of our favorite ways to be a mindful family.

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    What is Mindfulness?

    You have likely heard the term “mindfulness”, but what does it actually mean?  One simple definition in a study by J.D. Creswell defines mindfulness as  “a process of openly attending, with awareness, to one’s present moment experience”. This includes acknowledging and accepting all of the thoughts that pop into your head, the feelings you experience, and the bodily sensations you feel while you practice.

    There is some debate on when/where mindfulness originated, but many believe its origins stem from Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. As the practices spread westward, other religious and secular groups adopted some of the components of mindfulness into their own practices.

    Today, you can find everything from guided meditations to mindful yoga right at your fingertips (thank you smart devices). So why are these practices so popular nowadays? The answer lies in the benefits you can reap from adding mindfulness to your day.

    A young boy sitting on a graffitied rock overlooking a river while meditating.

    Benefits of Mindfulness for Families

    There are numerous benefits of adding mindfulness practices to your routine. Here I have listed a few of the more prominent ones. To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness along with the theory and practice, check out The Handbook of Mindfulness.

    Reduced Stress and Anxiety

    Taking the time to practice mindfulness, whether it’s through meditation, yoga, forest bathing, etc, has shown time and again to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies show that consistent mindfulness practice can help dial down the body’s stress response, making you better able to cope with the stress of everyday life. A more intense mindfulness method called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) therapy can be particularly effective for people suffering from chronic stress

    A smiling woman sitting in a river while water cascades down on her from a small waterfall

    Decreased Depression

    A consistent mindfulness practice may not only help relieve symptoms of depression but also help prevent these symptoms from returning in the future. In fact, the use of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (which combines cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques) has become an effective treatment for many patients experiencing chronic depression.

    Better Physical Health

    When stress is reduced and your general mood is elevated, you start to see physical benefits as well, whether it’s a reduction in chronic pain or relief from the symptoms of chronic illness. Some studies even suggest that mindfulness interventions can help people lose weight and battle obesity.

    Improved Cognition

    Mindfulness can change your thinking for the better. Learning to be aware of your thoughts without judgment can lead to thinking more flexibly and clearly. It improves your ability to focus on a task without giving in to distractions. This can also lead to better short-term memory by reducing proactive interference (when older memories interfere with your access to newer memories).

    Better Sleep

    If you suffer from insomnia or poor sleep patterns, adding mindfulness practices can help by improving relaxation, reducing your heart rate, and increasing the production of melatonin in the brain. Speaking from experience, I can no longer practice mindful meditation after 7:00 pm because I frequently fall asleep during the practice when I do.

    Increased Emotional Regulation

    Practicing mindfulness can help you identify and manage your feelings, which is especially beneficial for children who struggle with regulating their emotions. Being able to identify and cope with your feelings can ultimately improve many areas of life including relationships with family, friends, and classmates/colleagues.

    Two young girls smiling while helping each other walk on ice in a forested area in winter

    Mindful Ways to Experience Nature

    Not all mindfulness practices involve sitting or lying down while following the prompts of a soothing voice guiding you on how to bring awareness to the present moment. While I love this type of mindfulness, it can be difficult to find the time to do so (without falling asleep) when you have little ones underfoot.

    For this reason, my favorite mindfulness practices involve nature and can include the whole family. Here are six mindfulness practices that involve nature along with some tips for how to practice them with your family. You’ll notice that some of these practices share similar elements, and some can be paired together for a full mindfulness experience.

    A young boy wearing an Oakiwear rainsuit and REI kids backpack standing with a woman carrying a child in a baby carrier on her back overlooking a forested lake.

    Grounding or Earthing

    I vividly remember running around barefoot outdoors as a child ALL THE TIME. Sure, I got the occasional splinter or scrape on my feet, but it never slowed me down for long. Nowadays, I get quite the stank eye from other parents on the trail or park when I let my boys run around barefoot. I have even received some concerned comments about it being dangerous to their health or “an accident waiting to happen”.

    While I agree that some areas are not appropriate places to go barefoot (like trails that notoriously have broken glass), shedding the shoes actually has some pretty awesome benefits. For younger kids, it can aid in proper foot development, strengthen the ankles, feet, and lower legs, and help children develop body awareness (proprioception). The benefits of letting your feet frolic in freedom extend past just children though. Let me introduce you to the practice of “grounding” and why you should add it to your family’s routine.

    A young boy walking barefoot in a puddle while observing leaves and wearing an Air Force Falcons ball cap.

    What is “Grounding”?

    When I first started teaching high school chemistry, I noticed that my mentor teacher would spend many of his breaks outside in the field near the school walking around barefoot. When I asked what he was doing, he would answer “balancing my body chemistry”. I thought he was just pranking the newbie (which happened often), but it turns out he was on to something.

    Grounding (also called “earthing”) is the practice of getting direct physical contact with the earth through walking barefoot, lying in the grass, gardening, etc. This direct contact with the negatively charged earth can balance out the positive charges that build up in our bodies over time. Sound like a myth? This method is supported by numerous scientific studies (like this one from the Journal of Environmental and Public Health or this one from Explore Journal).

    In fact, some of these studies suggest that our current disconnect with the earth may be a contributor to our chronic physiological dysfunction and unwellness. Thankfully, reconnecting to the earth can help reverse some of this dysfunction and unwellness.

    Benefits include a reduction in stress, pain, and inflammation along with improved energy, sleep, and blood flow throughout the body. And frankly, it just makes you feel good (no wonder my kids shed their shoes as often as possible!).

    How to Practice Grounding with Your Family

    This is the easy part (especially if you have wild children like mine). You simply leave the shoes behind and explore the earth barefoot. You may notice that your feet are super sensitive to every tiny rock or rough tree root at first. Don’t worry, your feet will toughen up pretty quickly, and you will be frolicking freely in no time. I recommend starting slow and choosing familiar, safe places to start (such as your backyard or a favorite park).

    Not ready to go barefoot? You can also get grounding effects by getting your hands into the soil without gloves. This could be playing in the mud, gardening, building sandcastles, etc. Even lying in the grass (without a blanket) and watching the clouds can provide some of the benefits of grounding.

    A woman walking barefoot with a baby along a beach in Washington State

    Forest Bathing (shinrin-yoku)

    As adults (and especially as parents), we spend a lot of time in sensory overload. Between staring at a screen, listening to the constant noise around us, the myriad of smells that come with life with kids, etc, life can get overwhelming. Add in the constant stream of thoughts and worries, and you may feel like your head is ready to explode. Before getting to the breaking point, consider adding Forest Bathing to your routine.

    What is Forest Bathing (also Termed Shinrin-Yoku)?

    The first time I heard this term, I imagined an elaborate claw-foot tub in the middle of the forest (I have a very active imagination). While technically you could forest bathe this way, it’s not necessary (or practical). Forest Bathing encourages you to “bathe” your senses in the sights, smells, sounds, and feel of nature. This awareness is usually paired with deep breathing exercises while you slowly walk, sit, or lie down in nature, taking in all the natural sensory input.

    The term “shinrin-yoku” (translated as forest bathing) was coined in Japan around 1982 by the Forest Agency of the Japanese Government and was later introduced into Japanese clinical fields. Since then, there have been various studies that support the practice of shinrin-yoku for improving both physical and mental health by reducing the effects of stress on the body (particularly anxiety).

    A woman standing on a beach in Washington state with her arms outstretched taking in the beauty.

    How to Forest Bathe with Your Family

    Even though “forest” is in the name, you don’t need to seek pure wilderness to practice forest bathing. A local park, beach, or even your backyard can work if needed. Start by turning off or silencing your devices and storing them away to fully focus on your surroundings. Then lead your family into deep belly breathing to signal the body to relax. To set the tone, ask your kiddos to notice what they smell, hear, and see around them. You can walk slowly, stand, sit, or even lie down. Follow their lead.

    Children (especially young ones) are naturally curious creatures. They want to stop at a log to investigate the inhabitants or watch a leaf float along the river. These little moments are awe-inspiring to them, which is exactly what forest bathing is all about. Finding the awe and wonder of nature.

    If your kiddos are having a hard time sitting still, you can combine grounding by removing their footwear. You can also add in some nature yoga or nature journaling to help them focus (see below for tips on implementing these). Just remember, the important thing is being out in nature, taking in your surroundings. If possible, try forest-bathing solo (even in your backyard) when you need to recharge and reduce stress. It can be a game-changer!

    A young boy lying in a pile of leaves enjoying nature while wearing an Oakiwear rainsuit

    Nature Meditation

    Meditation is likely the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of mindfulness. I remember the first time I tried meditation… spoiler alert, it didn’t go so well. I had this preconceived notion that I could easily empty my head of all thoughts while sitting cross-legged with my hands resting on my knees. I remember picturing Gandhi in this position and attempting to use this as inspiration during my meditation.

    I ended up going down so many different thought branches from how uncomfortable my bottom was to how Gandhi made it through his hunger strikes as my stomach growled at me. It didn’t go well. The second time wasn’t much better (I fell asleep and ended up napping for 2 hours). I kept trying, but I found myself getting angry each time I found my mind wandering, and I ended up in a worse mood than when I started.

    What is Meditation?

    It turns out I was missing the whole point and purpose of meditation. It’s not about having an empty head with no thoughts. It’s about bringing awareness to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations experienced at the present time. Rather than getting angry when your mind wanders, it’s about acknowledging those thoughts without judgment and then letting them drift away.

    There are various forms of meditation, though they tend to lead to the same place: relaxing the mind. If your mind tends to wander quickly a breath-based mindful meditation or a guided meditation practice are great places to start. Whichever meditation style you choose, the benefits include a reduction in stress, improved mood, better sleep, and decreased anxiety and depression symptoms. Since ample time in nature can also lead to these (and other) benefits, it makes sense to move your meditation practice outdoors when possible.

    A young boy sitting on the ground along a trail meditating and wearing a Sunday Afternoons hat

    How to Meditate in Nature with Your Family

    There are a variety of options for meditating in nature with your family. Depending on the attention span of your kiddos, you may want to choose a short-and-sweet kid-friendly guided meditation for younger ones or a sound meditation for older kids. Here are just a few options you can try out with your family:

    Guided Meditation

    This is a great place to start, especially with young kids. There are a variety of apps available that offer guided meditations for children. Smiling Mind and Headspace both have kid-friendly options that guide children (and adults) through breathing exercises and visualization to help calm the mind. Simply choose a meditation option that works for your family, find a comfy spot in nature (such as your backyard or a quiet spot at the park), and press play.

    Breathing Meditation

    This can be practiced while sitting, standing, or even walking along a trail. You can choose a guided breathing meditation through an app, or simply have your family focus on counting out their breaths as they go. As the mind wanders, simply acknowledge the thought and let it go as you refocus on the repetition of breathing. My son told me he can focus best on this technique when he silently says “in” as he inhales and “out” as he exhales.

    Walking Meditation

    Unlike many other forms of meditation, the focus of walking meditation is the rhythm of your footsteps rather than your breathing patterns. To start, become aware of body sensations and posture as you walk and breathe normally. For kids, it may be helpful to have them silently narrate their steps, “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot”, as their point of focus as they bring their mind to a more restful state. For a more complex walking meditation option (best suited for adults and older kids), check out this post on walking meditations from the experts at Headspace.

    Sound Meditation

    There’s nothing quite as soothing as the sounds of mother nature. Studies show how the sounds of nature calm the mind and help us relax. That’s why many of the sound machines on the market include nature sound options. To practice sound meditation in nature, you simply have to be in nature. You may have to model this method for your kids a few times before they can do it without guidance, but it is such a soothing way to experience nature!

    Start by instructing everyone to sit comfortably, close their eyes, and breathe deeply. After about 10 breaths, turn your attention to the sounds around you. Identify a single sound, label it silently to yourself (such as birds calling), and then move on to the next sound (such as wind, leaves rustling, cars, etc.). Instead of focusing on one sound for an extended period, you simply move from sound to sound. After an allotted time (such as 5 minutes or so), finish with a few deep breaths.

    A woman and two boys sitting on the grass with their eyes closed practicing sound meditation as a mindful family.
    Practicing Sound Meditation in Our Backyard

    Nature Affirmations

    We are constantly bombarded with negativity. Whether we experience it at work, at school, while watching the news, through social media, etc, hearing and experiencing negativity can alter our well-being. In fact, recent studies have found that repetitive negative thinking is linked to a greater risk of dementia and cognitive decline.

    Thankfully, there are ways to combat the rising trend of negativity. Using the power of positive thinking, affirmations can help foster an attitude of gratitude by focusing on the beauty and wonders we encounter each day.

    What Are Affirmations?

    The thing about self-talk, whether it’s positive or negative, is that it tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, telling yourself something is too hard will make it too hard. However, if you transform that statement into, “This is hard, but I can do hard things”, you increase your odds of succeeding. You have just transformed that negativity into a positive affirmation.

    An affirmation is simply a positive statement that can help you overcome obstacles, negativity, and stress. When these statements are repeated (and eventually believed), they can lead to positive changes in your life. We believe that when positive affirmations are paired with time outside as a family, you not only reap the benefits of positive thinking. You also receive the benefits of nature and quality time with the ones you love.

    That’s why we created this handy deck of 24 Outdoor Affirmation Cards. Each card in this free printable deck includes an outdoor-themed family-friendly affirmation along with a tip for taking action.

    How to Use Nature Affirmation Cards with Your Family

    There’s no wrong way to use affirmation cards. You can shuffle the deck and pull a card each morning (or have your kiddos pull one). Read the card out loud and discuss it with your family, asking questions like “What does this card mean to you? Does it paint a picture in your mind? How can we practice this affirmation today?”.

    Another option is to place the cards strategically around your home. Locations such as windowsills, doorways, and bathroom mirrors are great places to keep them visible and on your mind all day. You could even create or buy a fun card holder to display them around your home.

    If your kids enjoy a good treasure hunt, try hiding one or more around the house for them to find. I like to hide them with their outdoor gear, with instructions to get dressed and meet me outside to embody the affirmation in nature. For more fun ideas, check out our post on using affirmation cards to get outside.

    A set of 4 Nature Affirmations cards from Tales of a Mountain Mama propped on a windowsill with rocks in front of them.

    Nature Journaling

    While you don’t need any special tools to experience and appreciate nature, you can help your family train their attention and improve their observation skills through journaling. Any type of journaling can have a calming effect that helps reduce stress while inspiring creativity. Nature Journaling adds in the benefits of being out in nature while focusing on being in the moment.

    What is Nature Journaling?

    Nature journaling, in its simplest definition, is taking what you observe in nature and writing or drawing about it. However, it’s so much more than that. It is a tool used to hone observational skills, become better acquainted with the natural world, and spark further curiosity about nature.

    Nature journaling has led to so many rabbit trails in our homeschool. We have studied why birds have beaks of different shapes (after my oldest noticed two different beak types in our yard), the life cycle of a frog, and why algae grow so fast in a stagnant pond to name a few. These topics were all sparked by what we observed and noted in our nature journals. For more specifics, check out this post on how to start nature journaling with your kids.

    How to Nature Journal with Your Family

    You don’t need any special tools to start nature journaling with your family. You can use paper and a clipboard or buy a specific notebook to use as a nature journal (we like this affordable option since it is a heavyweight paper that we can paint on. The writing/drawing utensils are also a personal preference. My older son prefers erasable colored pencils since he tends to be a perfectionist, but we also use watercolors and pens. You can also include some plant, bird, or animal guides for your area if you want to dive deeper into what you observe in nature.

    Once you have your tools, have everyone find a spot where they can be quiet and observe their surroundings. Take a few moments to take it all in and then write or draw about what you see, smell, hear, etc. Younger kiddos may just want to draw what they see and have you transcribe their observations. Older kids can get into more details and leave room for some research they do on the topic.

    There is no wrong way to nature journal. Just remember that it doesn’t need to be perfect! This was super hard for my older kiddo at first. It took multiple journaling sessions for him to be okay with his drawing not looking exactly like the real thing. If at first it’s hard, keep trying!

    A young boy sitting on the grass under a tree drawing what he sees with colored pencils on a paper attached to a clipboard

    Nature Journaling Prompts for Inspiration

    Nature Journaling doesn’t have to be prompted or have a specific question to answer, but journal prompts can be helpful to get you started. Here are a few prompts that we turn to when we need some inspiration. You can also find more prompts from resources such as the Exploring Nature with Children Guided Journal.

    Note: We like to start each nature journaling session by writing the date, temperature, and weather conditions at the top of our page. Also, I write for my younger kiddo and also my older kiddo when he has a lot of observations he wants to get down quickly.

    1. Find one flower or insect to draw. Where did you find the flower/insect? Jot down details about the size, color, etc. Use a field guide or website to identify and find out more about the flower/insect.
    2. Do a leaf or bark rubbing. Draw a picture of the tree it came from and use a guide to identify it if needed.
    3. Take time to sit still and focus on using one sense at a time. Draw what you see, hear, smell, and feel around you. You can split your paper into parts, or use a different page for each sense. Be sure to jot down details about your observations.
    4. Draw the clouds you see in the sky. Do they look like familiar things (such as an animal or vehicle.)? Are they moving fast or slow? What type of clouds are they?
    A notebook with a water color journal entry from a sensory observation walk
    My Older Son’s First Nature Journal Entry

    Sensory Hikes

    Nature really is a delight to the senses. If you are able to get away from the smells and sounds of the city, spending time outside can be a soothing, restorative experience. This is especially true when you take the time to focus on experiencing nature through each sense (okay, maybe not the sense of taste unless you REALLY know your edible plants!). I like to call these experiences sensory walks or hikes.

    What is a Sensory Hike?

    The concept is simple and can be implemented in several different ways. Similar to forest bathing, the goal is to fully experience nature by hyper-focusing on it with your different senses. However, the execution can be a bit different. Rather than using all of your senses at once to experience the nature around you, a sensory hike generally has you focus on one or two senses at a time. You still get the wonderful benefits of nature (stress relief, better sleep, improved cognition, etc.) while adding in a game-like quality that many kiddos love.

    A group of people including a woman carrying a child in an Osprey Poco framed child carrier walking through tall grass with their hands outstretched to feel the grass

    How to Take a Sensory Hike with Your Family

    Sensory walks/hikes tend to provide more guidance and instruction for being mindful in nature, which can work well with younger kiddos. Here are some of the ways we like to explore nature with our senses:

    Pick a Sense

    Each person picks one sense to focus on. This could be for one minute or 10 depending on the age and willingness of the child. They then report back to the group what they experienced. A fun twist on this could be having them draw what they sensed and having everyone guess what the drawing is.

    Sensory Scavenger Hunt

    You can make up a simple list of things they can smell, see, hear, and feel in nature, or use the one we created below. You can also find fun sensory card decks (like this one) to take along on your outdoor adventure.

    Sensory Stories

    Have your family make up a story to go along with what they saw, smelled, or heard in nature. What are the birds saying to each other? Why are the squirrels chasing each other? Why does the lake smell like it’s rotting? For my family, these usually end with hilarious laughter and fun family memories.

    Journal What You Sensed

    Have your kids draw or paint what they smelled, heard, felt, or saw on your walk. You can bring along paper or a journal to do this on your hike or have them sit down once you return home and see what they come up with.

    A Sensory Walk Scavenger Hunt activity sheet From Tales of a Mountain Mama

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      Nature Yoga

      There’s a reason yoga has grown so popular around the world. It not only improves flexibility, strength, and balance (which we all benefit from), but it also relaxes you while boosting energy levels. This leads to lower stress levels and healthier bodies. Traditional yoga practices focus on quieting the mind through meditation and breathing work. This practice can be difficult for younger children, which is why I like to include the aspect of nature.

      What is Nature Yoga?

      Nature yoga is basically moving your yoga practice outside to enjoy and connect with nature, whether you practice at a park, on a beach, or in your own backyard. You may discover that it’s easier to practice in nature. That’s because one of the major components of yoga is exploring how we are linked to the environment around us while developing self-awareness. This explains why many of the poses are related to nature (mountain pose, tree pose, animal-inspired poses, etc.).

      When you practice yoga outside, it provides a greater connection between your practice and nature, which can intensify the yoga experience. I generally find that I am better able to focus on my breathing when the air I take in is fresh, and I find it easier to concentrate on being in the moment when I’m surrounded by the sounds of nature. We like to combine nature yoga with grounding by removing our footwear and forgoing the mat.

      A young boy doing a down dog yoga pose in the grass
      My Youngest Practicing his Down-Dog Yoga Pose

      How to Practice Nature Yoga with Your Family

      Rather than focusing on getting every pose right, I have found it works better to let my kids use what they see around them to inspire their poses, even if they are not “true” yoga poses. Just be sure they are not in a position where they can hurt themselves (no pretzel poses unless they are super flexible!). Here are some fun ways to practice nature yoga with your family:

      Try Some Nature-Themed Yoga Poses

      They don’t have to be real yoga poses (and you don’t have to remember the proper names) for you to still reap the benefits with your family. Here are a few of our favorite nature-themed poses along with some kid-friendly instructions for doing them.

      Mountain Pose

      Stand up tall with your palms facing forward and your feet planted firmly on the ground. You are now steady and strong like a mountain!

      Tree Pose

      Start in Mountain pose and bring one foot to rest on your other leg, above or below the knee. For balance, it helps to stare at a non-moving object such as a rock or tree in front of you. With your leg rooted like a tree trunk, bring your arms up like the branches of your tree. We like to hold hands in this pose to make a forest. Repeat on the other side.

      Bird (Warrior 3) Pose

      Start in Mountain pose and extend your wings (arms) out to either side. Lean forward and lift one leg straight behind you like you’re gliding through the air. Be sure to “fly” on both sides so your bird is balanced (bird noises are encouraged!).

      Frog Pose

      Starting in a standing position, lower into a deep squat with your hands on the ground in front of you for balance. Once you are comfortable, you can bounce or jump into the air like a frog (don’t forget to croak or ribbit!).

      Butterfly Pose

      Sitting on the ground with your back straight up, bend your legs and bring the bottoms of your feet together. While holding your feet, gently bounce your knees up and down as you flap your butterfly wings.

      Snake (Cobra) Pose

      Lie on your stomach on the ground. Place your hands on the ground under your shoulders. Push through your hands and lift your head and shoulders off the ground. Don’t forget to give a great big hissssss.

      Downward Dog

      Starting on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart, spread your fingers and press your palms flat into the ground. Lift your bottom (tail) into the sky, making an upside-down V shape. Tail wagging and barking are encouraged!

      Lion Pose

      This is a favorite for my boys! Start in a kneeling position on the ground, sitting on your heels with your hands in your lap. Clap your hands in your lap three times and then rise up onto your knees. Stick your tongue out, open your claws, and make your eyes wide as you let out a great big ROAR!

      A woman wearing a child on her back in an ergo baby carrier doing a yoga tree pose while holding a little boy's hand in a grassy outdoor setting being a mindful family
      My Little Family “Forest” Practicing our Tree Pose
      Take Yoga Breaks on Hikes

      This works especially well during snack and potty breaks or while hiking in larger groups. Kids can get antsy while waiting for others, and sometimes they just need a break from walking. Lead them in a few poses (like those listed above) or let them make up their own until everyone is ready to go.

      Take Turns to “Be What You See”

      Have everyone take a minute or two to observe their surroundings. Then take turns doing a yoga pose based on something they see, hear, or smell (such as a tree, a flower, the wind, a bird, etc.). You can add a layer of fun by having everyone else guess what the pose is while mimicking it themselves. Then have someone else take a turn.

      Sun Salutations

      If you have ever attended a yoga class or watched a yoga video, you have likely heard of the sun salutation. A simple sun salutation flows through multiple poses (such as mountain, cobra, down dog, etc.) to welcome the sun. I love doing these in nature because they are short sequences, and my boys love saying hello to the sun. For a short, simple version that’s easy to learn, check out this video from Cosmic Kids Yoga. For a longer version (great for older kids!), check out this video from Yogalates with Rashmi.

      You CAN Practice Mindfulness in Nature with the Whole Family

      With so much stress and overstimulation in today’s world, consider unplugging your family as often as possible to practice mindfulness in nature. Regardless of which method you choose, every member of your family will benefit from putting their worries and racing thoughts aside to be present in the moment. Take in the beauty and peacefulness of nature. Focus on the sounds and sensations of the natural world. Reap the benefits of calming your mind. You won’t regret it!

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        • Rebecca has lived in five different states in the last decade with her Navy submariner husband and two boys. A former science teacher turned home educator, she now focuses on exploring her surrounding area (currently Virginia Beach) with her family as much as possible before life sends them on another adventure elsewhere. Their favorite outdoor activities include hiking, kayaking, camping, and paddleboarding.

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