I recently was a guest lecturer at The University of Kansas speaking to college students who want to be pre-school to middle school teachers. I shared with them some breathwork exercises they can use in their classrooms. I have compiled a few of them below. For kids, combining breath with their imagination is the best way to go. It will help them with relaxing and managing emotions, as well as focus and concentration. These are practices that they can use for the rest of their lives to help keep them healthy.
Start of the day
1. Balloon Breath 1
Place hands on stomach, imagine you are blowing up a balloon inside of your stomach. After a few breaths, make the balloon so big it moves up into your chest.
Inhale through nose, exhale out mouth and make a sound.
2. Balloon Breath 2
Place hands next to your mouth like you are holding the sides of a balloon, inhale thru your nose and with your slow exhale thru your mouth blow up your balloon, extending your hands as if the balloon is getting bigger. Exhale as much as you can
* Any breath with a longer exhale stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which is relaxing and brings them into the present moment.
Anxiety relief, helps regulate emotions (Good before a test)
1. 3-5-7 - Put your hands on your ribs to feel the expansion in the lungs with the inhale. Breath in for 3, hold for 5, exhale for 7.
2. Breath of fire- Rapid, quick breaths focusing on the exhale. You can use the visualization of blowing out candles through the mouth or you can do this the traditional way inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
3. Bumble Bee Breaths - Calming
Sitting comfortably with your legs crossed, breath in through your nose, then with fingers in your ears hum out your exhalation. You can play with other sounds too (ex. the different vowels)
The lovely comforting resonance of this has a calming effect and done with eyes closed can make it even more peaceful.
Dragon Fire Breaths
Interlace the fingers underneath the chin. Inhale and lift the elbows up to frame the face. Exhale, lifting the head up making a whispered ‘hah’ sound towards the sky, like a dragon breathing fire. At the same time, lower the elbows back down to meet at the bottom again by the end of the ‘hah’ exhale. This breath technique builds strength and heat within so is a good energizer.
Teach them to say things like:
- I can breathe out slowly to help calm my body
- My breath helps me feel still
- My breath helps be concentrate
- When I’m feeling mad, my breath can help make me feel safe and calm