The ability to work with our breath is a skill that helps everyone – including children!
Simple breathing exercises and games can help kids identify their current emotions, increase focus, and decrease stress and anxiety. Teach these yoga-inspired exercises to children, and have them practice throughout the day, at school and at home. They are easy to practice as a group, during circle time or at their desks, or as they are winding down and getting ready for bed.
Children of all ages are able to participate in breathing games – including preschool and older. Working on this skill gives them a lifelong tool for managing their stress, and feeling more alert, more mindful, and more creative!
Here are a few ways that students can begin to work with their breathing:
Belly Breathing: One of the most important places to start is by identifying how we breathe. The focus of belly breathing is filling our bellies with our breath, by breathing in through our nose, and out through our mouth. In this exercise, children lay on the floor, and watch a stuffed animal on their tummy go up and down with their breath. Belly breathing is a calming technique that children of all ages can practice, and use when they experience big emotions.
Lion’s Breath: Lion Pose is a fun yoga pose for children that releases energy, and allows them settle into more peaceful feelings. This breathing exercise helps children to calm their bodies, and relax their minds. It is also an excellent hip and ankle stretch!
Bunny Breaths: When kids are feeling stressed and having a hard time catching their breath, they may find it helpful to visualize breathing like a bunny! Take three short breaths in through their nose, and one long breath out through the nose. This will help them to connect to their breath, so they can breathe, instead of continuing to spiral.
Balloon Breath: Balloon Breath is a lot like the Belly Breathing, but with a different visualization. Here, children create a “balloon” on their stomach, and make it expand as they practice deep breathing.