Teaching children how to manipulate their breath empowers them to change the way they are feeling in a fast, effective, and healthy way. We can use the breath to increase or decrease our energy as needed, overcome the “fight or flight” response when we become scared or anxious, experience a peaceful night of rest, increase our confidence, create a feeling of safety and security, and blow up balloons or beach balls for unlimited fun!
Take a moment to remember your curiosity with the breath when you were a child. You probably played with holding it in and holding it out. Perhaps this play even took you under water in the bathtub, pool, or at the beach! This curiosity will naturally encourage the children you work with to fully engage in the following breathing exercises.
Breath of Joy
“Breath of Joy" is an energizing breathing exercise perfect for waking up a sluggish mind/body, focusing on the present moment, and releasing tension. Help kids warm up for an activity or come out of a funk by synchronizing strong breaths with arm movements in this exercise.
“Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent. Inhale through your nose as you quickly sweep your arms up and overhead, and raise up onto your toes. Open your mouth and exhale making a “ha” sound as your arms swing down and behind you and your knees bend deeply. Do not strain your body or breath; simply feel the rhythm. After completing five to seven rounds stand with your eyes closed and feel the sensations in your face, arms, hands, and heart.”
“Bear Breath” is a grounding and settling breathing technique which calms and clears the mind, reduces stress and anxiety, and promotes an overall sense of well-being.
“Sitting tall or lying flat, imagine yourself to be a great big bear hibernating! Inhale through your nose for a count of three, and hold for a count of three. Exhale through your nose for a count of three, and hold for a count of three. Kids can use their fingers to help keep track. Once you have mastered a count of three, increase to four and later to five!”
By increasing our awareness of the breath through “Seesaw Breath” we are able to achieve a deeper mind/body connection.
“Lay down flat with one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest. Inhale through your nose filling the belly with breath and feeling your belly lift. Exhale through your nose and feel your belly lower. On the next inhale, keep the belly still as you breathe into your chest making it rise. As you exhale, feel the chest go down. Continue to alternate (like a seesaw) back and forth between belly and chest. Do your best to keep the chest still when breathing in and out of the belly and the belly still when breathing in and out of the chest.”
If you lead the above breathing techniques as part of a Story and Stretch: Narrative Yoga for Kids session, use Breath of Joy toward the beginning of the practice, Bear Breath immediately before meditation or relaxation, and Seesaw Breath during the relaxation portion of the practice.
For information on booking a Story and Stretch: Narrative Yoga for Kids session or learning how to lead sessions yourself visit www.beombrella.com for available resources and upcoming training events.