The foundation of any meditation practice is connection to the breath. Our breath not only nourishes our body through delivering vital oxygen to the blood, but it also acts as a current of energy that has the power to quickly and effectively calm our nervous system. Through slow, rhythmic breathing we can steady our heart rate, lower our blood pressure and soothe our nerves all at once.
But mindful breathing is not just reserved for meditation. It is an incredible tool that can help not only ourselves, but also the kiddos in our lives. Think about how much time children spend in the womb connected to the rhythm of the mother's heart and breath only to emerge into a world that can feel chaotic and discombobulating at times. The steady tide of the breath helps pull them back into the their natural flow and is an incredibly soothing way to re-center and reconnect.
These fun, easy breaths are a great way to teach your children a mindfulness practice they can adapt for their own personal use and comfort. They are also amazing gems to pull out during meltdowns, tantrums and rowdy emotional moments that may have you otherwise throwing up your hands.
1. Balloon breath
Spread the arms out wide and take a series of five short breaths through the nose while bringing the arms up overhead. At the top let out one long exhale through the mouth and float the arms down in front of the body like a deflating balloon.
2. Bunny breath
Have children hold their bunny paws in front of their chest while taking three short inhales through the nose followed by one long exhale out the nose. They can even bunny hop around the room and still receive the benefit of the breath.
3. Bee breath
Rub the hands together to create heat between the palms and then place them over the eyes. Take one long inhale through the nose and then make a humming sound ("Hmmmmm") at the back of the throat with the mouth closed for as long as you can. Another variation is to flap the arms like bees or flies instead of placing the hands over the eyes.
4. Astronaut breath
This breath mimics the slow rhythmic breathing kids hear in movies when astronauts breathe in their space suits. Simply take one long breath in through the nose, hold for 2 or 3 seconds, then take one long exhale through the nose and pause again for 2 or 3 seconds before repeating.
5. Lion breath
This is always a crowd favorite! Take one long inhale through the nose and then exhale through the mouth sticking out the tongue and saying "hhhhhaaaaaaaa". Be as fierce and ferocious as possible. :)
With any breath, the key is to make the exhale longer than the inhale. This is incredibly calming for the nervous system and will slow everything way down quite quickly. The breath is the easiest, most accessible tool we have to inner peace, and it's right there anytime we'd like to access it.
Check out this video demonstrating all five techniques, and take a few moments now and say hello to your faithful friend.