Deep Breathing for Children
If you hadn't yet noticed, Yoga, breathing and mindfulness is a topic that is being talked about more and more in the context of children, and it really shouldn't come as a surprise. Just because they're young doesn't mean they can't benefit from yoga the same way adults do. As a matter of fact, children can benefit from Yoga MORE. Why? Because the tools Yoga has to offer our youth are critical for helping them learn how to deal with common stressors such as peer pressure, bullying, and poor self image to name a few, not to mention children have their entire lives ahead of them to utilize these tools!
And, if you're already a student to the practice, I don't need to tell you that Yoga is MUCH more than just poses. Through Yoga, students also learn how to tap into the healing benefits of the breath. Deep breathing relaxes the muscles, increases the feeling of well-being through the release of endorphins, lowers blood pressure, and improves the functionality of the every system in the body, which is why it's vital our children learn not only how to breathe deeply, but when they should use deep breathing.
Children's Yoga classes are gaining in popularity, so, if you can, register your child for a class so they may learn the valuable, life-long tools Yoga has to offer. However, if classes aren't yet offered in your area, don't fit into your child's schedule, or private lessons aren't in your budget, you can still expose your child to the benefits of deep breathing exercises in the comfort of your own home.
I know I've mentioned YouTube before and I'll mention it again because it's such an amazing resource, so check it out! Specifically, Cosmic Kids have their own YouTube channel that includes videos that help children practice breathing techniques. But if you're a parent who works hard to limit your child's screen time, or you'd just rather work with them one-on-one, there are breathing exercises you can lead them through yourself. The key is holding their attention long enough to get a concept to stick. To do that, all you need to do is make it FUN! Lead them through deep breathing exercises by having them pretend they're:
a Bumble Bee (encourage them to bring their fingers to their ears, inhale deeply, and exhale out as they buzz like a bee)
blowing out their Birthday Candles (encourage them to take a deep breath in and exhale as if they were blowing out the candles on their birthday cake)
a Humming Bird (encourage them to take a deep breath in and exhale out as they hum like a humming bird)
a Snake (encourage them to take a deep breath in and exhale out as they hiss like a snake)
If simple instruction gets you nowhere, make it a challenge by saying "I bet you can't do 5 bumble bee breaths!", or even "I can't remember, what does a snake sound like again?".
As with anything, practice makes perfect so be sure to practice regularly, reminding them of examples of situations they may encounter during which breathing will help (i.e. when anxious over a test). Above all, remember, they're children, so be sure to exercise patience, switch up your breathing technique (or challenge them) when it looks like you're losing them, ALWAYS spread on a HUGE layer of praise, and, most importantly, HAVE FUN!!! Wishing you all much success in preparing your child for their future.