Just breathe. It’s so simple, but so powerful. An entire day can go by without taking a conscious breath. It’s not something we really have to think about or be aware of. However, bringing awareness to our breath can have amazing benefits.
When we are tense, stressed, anxious or angry our breathing can become more shallow and less healing. Taking a few deep conscious breaths can calm the parasympathetic nervous system, slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and even sharpen your focus. It really is an amazing tool available to us all the time, everywhere we go.
Take a moment now to slow down, sit quietly and breathe. Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat a few times.
Breathe in, calm your body.
Breathe out, smile and relax.
Teaching our Children to Breathe
Teaching our children to breathe provides them with a simple but effective lifelong tool. By learning strategies to slow down and notice how they’re feeling they can learn to relax. Subsequently, they will be better prepared to face overwhelming emotions and challenges life brings their way.
When your child is anxious or upset taking a few moments to breathe with them can help them calm down. Once they are settled they will be better prepared to talk about the situation. It can be as simple as quietly asking them to breathe with you – slowly in and out – until they start to calm. And, even if they aren’t interested in breathing with you at the moment, the calming breaths you take will help you to feel better ?.
Practicing mindful breathing at home can be a lot of fun. In addition it will give your child a “toolkit” for times when confronted with life’s challenges, a meltdown, or anxiety before a test at school.
Make it fun and practice often – at home, in the car, at the grocery store… That’s the beauty of our breathe – it’s with us everywhere we go!
Here are a few of our favorite breathing techniques to try:
Bumble Bee Breaths
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed, breath in through your nose, then with fingers in your ears breathe out through your nose as you hmmmm out your exhalation. Blocking the ears makes it easier for young children to bring their focus inward. The long exhale of the humming breath is very calming.
Take a deep breath in and let it all go with a big open mouthed lions breath – don’t be afraid to stick out your tongue or even let out a big roar!
Or imagine how a bear might breathe as he settles in to hibernate for winter with long slow “bear breaths” in and out through your nose.
Hold one palm open in front of you and trace your open fingers with the index finger of the opposite hand as you breathe. Take a long breath in as you trace up your thumb, and a long breath out as you trace down the other side. Continue to breathe and trace each of your fingers.
Imagine you are holding a candle – take a long breath in through your nose and slowly breathe out making your candle flame flicker without blowing out the flame. Repeat several times. Now blow out your candle.
Take a long breath in through your nose, and slowly breathe out through your mouth as you watch your pinwheel spin – it’s mesmerizing.
A visual aid like an expandable ball called a Hoberman sphere is fun!
And everyone loves bubbles! Grab some bubble wands and head outside. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly blowing the bubbles out.
Take time to slow down and practice being mindful as you watch the bubbles float away.
There are also some great children’s books about breathing. Check out our Favorite Yoga & Mindfulness books for children post to see a few.
Ask your kids for ideas – you might be amazed what they will come up with. And please share in the comments below – can’t wait to hear your ideas!