Practicing yoga gives children emotional, mental, and physical stability, better balance, as well as deeper gratitude and self-love. A very important part of any yoga practice—for adults or kids—is breathing, known as "Pranayama". When we take full deep breaths, the blood circulation throughout our entire body increases, bringing oxygenated blood to every cell in our body (doesn’t that sound good already?), supporting all of our organs. We feel an increase in focus and a calming of our body and mind almost instantly. Pranayama is an important element of children’s yoga—we always start the class practicing breathing and end with it as well. And, it’s fun too. It’s never too early for children to learn the amazing benefits of focused breathing.
Try some of these breathing techniques with your child(ren) and see what happens!
Balloon Breath: Sit it a comfortable position (maybe "criss-cross-apple sauce" or even laying on your back). Close your eyes. Now place your hands on your belly and imagine you have a beautiful balloon inside your tummy. What color is it? Breath in through your nose and breath that air right into the balloon in your tummy so it gets big and maybe even pushes your hands out a little. Now, let all the air come out of the balloon through your mouth. Keep going a few more breaths, or for as long as you like. Ahhhhhh!
Take Five: Sit it a comfortable position (maybe "criss-cross-apple sauce"). Close your eyes. Hold up one hand up and make a fist. As you breathe in through your nose, slowly open your fingers one at a time. As you breathe out through your mouth, close the fingers one at a time until you have a fist and the air is all out. Start again. For younger children, it might be easier to open and close the whole hand with the breath. Great if you are feeling stressed or anxious!
Straw Breathing: Sit in a comfortable position (maybe "criss-cross apple sauce"). Hold a straw in your mouth with your lips closed. Now breathe in slowly through your nose and then breathe out through the straw as slowly as you can. Try for 3-5 straw breaths. It's also fun to do this with a cotton ball, gently blowing the cotton ball from one place to another. Remember to breathe in slowly through you mouth first.