Last Spring, I went on a whim and flew to Toronto to take part in course to learn about teaching yoga to kids through Rainbow Kids Yoga. Over three days, we learned about introducing children to yoga poses, enriching movement and of course, meditation and breathing techniques. Not only was what I learned the perfect addition to my repertoire as a classroom teacher, but it was extremely beneficial to my work as a parent of two young kids.
I loved what I learned so much, shortly after, I started a Kids Yoga business, Radiant Kids Yoga. I truly believe introducing children to the importance of mindfulness, breathing and movement from a young age will result in a lifetime of practice, whether it be regular or during difficult times. If you are in Vancouver, make sure to check it out as I do individual classes, school visits and birthday parties. Ok enough self promotion, now to share how the breathing in particular, can be something to introduce into your family’s life to alleviate stress and find calm.
One of my favorite parts of teaching the next generation of yogis relates to the importance of breath. I share with them whether they are sad, frustrated, stressed or nervous, doing simple breathing can make one feel better and ready to tackle any situation. Taking some deep belly breaths immediately can result in a slower heart rate and helps one concentrate due to better brain function. For kids in particular, deep breathing allows them to gain control of their big feelings and emotions, while heightening happiness at the same time. You can see why many schools are introducing such practice into the work day.
So whether you have a tantruming toddler, a shy school aged child or are a busy mom trying not to loose her cool, these proven breathing techniques are ones that you are going to try.
With your “bunny” nose, take in three short breaths of air through the noise and one long exhale out. Kids love this one as they can pretend to be sniffing the air and searching out carrots. I often hear from children that after learning this technique, they have used it at home or school. Talk about rewarding as an instructor!
With one hand held up with fingers spread and one hand with its pointer finger in ready position, the index finger begins to trace the outline of the open hand. Starting at bottom of the thumb, move up with a breath in and down the other side with a breath out. Continue until you have taken five deep belly breaths touching each finger. Once complete, evaluate how you or your child feels and consider going back the other way, ending on the same thumb you started at. I find this one easy for kids to remember and thus, one that can be referred to often.
Place a small feather (I get mine from the dollar store) in a cup created by your hand or hands. Start with a small breath and watch the feather move a slightly. Then try a medium breath in and watch the feather move more. Finally, take a deep belly breath and see the feather fly into the air. I can tell you this never gets old for kids. You can make it game, by asking them to use their breath to move the feather and have them catch it on the way down. With this practice, you then also have them working on their concentration skills.
The final technique is as simple as blowing bubbles. If you think about it, this requires one to take slow breaths in and out to produce the round balls. So grab a small container of bubbles and have it on hand when your little one may need a reset.
I hope you find these breathing techniques as helpful as I have. Give your children the gift of learning the importance of breath today.