Category Archives: Breathing Exercises

Infinity Breath

kid’s mindfulness

What is Infinity Breath?

Infinity Breathing is also referred to as Lazy Eight Breathing, which is a variation of a Brain Gym exercise.  Brain Gym is a set of movements that ready the body for learning.  For this exercise, use a dry erase board or for an extra sensory twist use organic instant pudding on a cookie sheet.  Draw an infinity sign or a number eight laying on its side.  Starting in the middle, your child will trace the left part of the eight while breathing in and the right while breathing out.  As your child traces, make sure he keeps the middle of his body in the center of the eight.  This will insure he is crossing midline.

What are the Benefits?

Crossing midline strengthens neural pathways between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  Crossing midline is important for establishing hand dominance and many other academic skills.  Playing in different textures increases the tactile sense, creativity and body awareness.  It is also calming and relaxing. 

What to Say.

Let’s trace our infinity sign five times with your index finger on your right hand.  Breathe in as you move your finger left, breathe out as you move your finger the other direction. Great!  Switch fingers.  Trace five times with the left index finger. Fantastic tracing! Now let’s use both index fingers to trace the infinity sign ten times.  What does the infinity sign remind you of?  I see butterfly wings.  Let’s create something out of our sign!  To infinity and beyond!

References

Dennison, P. E. (1989). Brain gym: TEACHERS EDITION. Place of publication not identified: Edu-Kinesthetics.

Bumpy Camel Breath

What Is Bumpy Camel Breath?

Bumpy Camel Breath combines the breath with a Kundalini yoga exercise. Kundalini is a type of yoga that awakens inner energy through breath, movement, and mediation. Kundalini, as practiced and taught by Shakta Khalsa, founder of Radiant Child Yoga, is a fantastic exercise for children of all abilities.

Benefits

Bumpy Camel Breath stretches and provides mobility to the lower and middle spine. Pretending to ride a bumpy camel is fun for children and helps them to focus on the movement and breath. Bumpy Camel Breath is also good for posture and reverses the effects of too much sitting and hunching over.

What to Say

  • Let’s practice Bumpy Camel Breath! Sit up tall in Easy Seated Pose. Take a deep breath in. Let it go.
  • Bring your hands to your outside ankle. Take a deep breath in. As you breathe out, tuck your chin and curl in.
  • As you breathe in, begin to unwind, rolling your head up slowly, pushing your shoulders back and down, while opening up through your heart. Let your breath out as you curl and roll in. Breathe in, and push your heart open as you open up.
  • As you ride your bumpy camel, notice where you feel a stretch in your body. What does it feel like? Go slow, enjoy your camel ride. Repeat 8 more times. Sit up tall in Easy Seated. Notice the sensations in your body.

PAWS and Meditate – Counting Breath

Funny illustration with cartoon red cat sitting on lotus position of yoga.

MEDITATE

Paying Attention With Senses (PAWS) helps children to regulate their emotions.  Counting breath is a simple way to meditate that can be done anywhere.

WHAT IS COUNTING BREATH?

Counting breath is a deep breathing exercise that uses counting as an anchor to keep the focus on the breath. When children are upset counting breath helps them regain control of emotions and settle the brain.  Counting breath improves focus, creating mindfulness, which leads to feelings of relaxation, clarity, and calm. Counting each exhalation focuses the attention on the breath. It keeps the attention in the present moment. This mindfulness tool can be used when children are feeling anxious, moody, angry or just need to relax.

LET’S BEGIN!

Lie on your back with your right hand on your navel and your left hand on your heart center.  Take a deep breath In through the nose. Feel the belly, rib cage, and heart center rise beneath the hands.  As you exhale, feel your hands fall.  Count one.  Continue counting and breathing in this way until you get to 10.  Still not calm?  Try it again.  Make sure the breath is reaching all the way to the navel.  Shallow breathing will excite the nervous system.

 

Fun Ways to Teach Breath Control

Casa Somerset Yoga-29

“Breathe in,

Breathe out,

Release the stress; just let it all out.”  -MC Yogi

Some say yoga is breathing.  Breathing is what sustains life so that makes it pretty important, right?  Taking 9 deep inhalations will not only calm the parasympathetic nervous system, but supply oxygen to muscles and organs.

Babies fill their bellies with air completely every time they inhale and exhale, but somewhere along the way this calm, healing style is lost and shallow breathing is substituted.  Shallow partial breathing can result in decreased focus, low energy, and heightened anxiety.  Ugh! Lucky for us there is yoga.

BREATHING PRACTICE

Have children sit up tall in Easy Pose, lay down in Corspe Pose, or stand up tall in Mountain Pose.  It may be helpful to have them breath while slumped forward at first.  Then push the shoulders back and down, discussing the difference.  Here are three of my favorite ways to teach breath control:

  1.  Use cool props.  Children love props.  My favorite prop is the hoberman sphere, which is pictured above.  Not only does it glow in the dark, but it is also a great way to show children how the belly needs to fill with air on the inhale and be completely empty on the exhale.  Turn off the lights and put on the Star Wars theme.  Before you know it children will be using Ujjiya breath to sound like Darth Vader. KSSSSH KUHHH
  2.  Play games.  Have children start at the back of their mats.  Give them a wide straw and have them blow a cotton ball to the front of their mats.  After a couple practice rounds have a race.  Remember to emphasize long inhalations and exhalations.
  3.  Use aromatherapy.  Check for allergies before using this technique.  Also, some children with special needs can be sensitive to essential oils so when in doubt go without.  Name it something fun like “jungle juice” and spray it on their hands.  Have them slowly lower their hands to their nose at the end of a jungle themed practice and breathe deeply 9 times. They will love it!

I teach breath control in every yoga session, but I do it in a fun way so children enjoy it.  This is the only physiological system we have conscious control over so why not use it to be calm and happy?

Namaste.

 

 

Mindfulness Quiets The Mind

Casa Somerset Yoga-30

I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness is characterized by stopping, paying attention on purpose, peace, and compassion   Mindfulness is a way of looking at experiences with emotional balance and compassion for self and others.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Mindfulness gives the individual a way to deal with negative experiences. More intimate connections with others are accomplished and regrets are not focused on. Mindfulness enhances physical health by decreasing stress, blood pressure, pain, and improving the quality of sleep. Mindfulness can supplement mental health treatments by improving symptoms related to depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Siegel (1999) reports that the structures and functions of are brain are molded by interpersonal experiences. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve neural growth in the brain. The more you engage in an activity the better the body will become at doing it due to this neural growth; therefore, it is important to engage in mindfulness daily.

Stress comes from contemplating about the past or worrying about the future. Living your life in the current moment and focusing your attention on the activity you are doing at the moment does not leave space for other things to invade your thoughts, such as fears, worries or anything that may be stressful. When meditating, your attention is on the meditation object, which may be your breath or mantra. This focus allows your mind to quiet and to be fully present in the moment. Performing activities such as schoolwork with mindfulness leads to improved outcomes. Not only is stress and worry decreased, focus is improved.

 HOW DO I TEACH IT TO MY CHILD?

Teaching children mindfulness can be tricky. After all the art of doing nothing is hard to learn in our frantic society.  A simple way to demonstrate mindfulness to children is to show them how to check in with their breath. Props such as stuffed animals or hoberman spheres can be used.  Children love to pretend the props are riding the breath on their tummies. Also, there are several books that introduce mindfulness. One of my favorites is “Peaceful Piggy Meditation. ” So spend a few minutes at the end of the day being mindful, and before you know it you will have a mindful child.

References

Boyce, B. (n.d.). The secret of success for MBSR. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/in-body-and-mind/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/the-secret-of-success-for-mbsr

Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Cultivating mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm

Siegel, D. J. (n.d.). The science of mindfulness. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/the-science/medicine/the-science-of-mindfulness

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The Developing Mind. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

 

Sensory-Based Space Yoga Sequence

Blast Off
Blast Off

Sensory-based Space Yoga Sequence

Ages 5-10

55 minutes

This is a great routine for children with sensory processing disorder.

Before starting the space adventure to the galaxy of calm. Have children put their mats in a circle. Start class with yoga rules, terms, and discussion of breathing through the nose.

Mountain Pose – Take a deep breath sweeping arms up as you inhale and slowly bring hands together at heart center while exhaling (Repeat x 3)

Climbing Space Ship Ladder. Cross crawls from Brain Gym – lift left leg and tap it with right hand. Now lift right leg and tap it with left hand. Cross crawls balance brain hemispheres and are great for neurological growth. If this is too difficult either help the child cross midline or have them tap right to right then left to left. Continue for 1 to 2 minutes.

Blast Off. Rev up the engine of the space ship – run in place and then sweep the arms wide while inhaling, as exhale bring the hands to the heart center and sit back in chair pose. Next, jump up as if blasting into outer space. Oh we didn’t quite make it – let’s rev our engines and try again. This time have children run to the back of their mats and then up to the front (Repeat x3)

Crescent Moon – We finally made it to outer space. Lets circle the moon. Inhale as lift the left hand toward the sky keeping right hand on thigh. Switch sides after 3 breaths.

Hello Mr. Sun (Sunshine stretch). Start in mountain or standing position, bend forward with arms hanging down. Shake head yes and no. Shaking the head relieves tension. Plant hands, take right foot back, then left foot for plank, pull elbows in and slowly lower to floor. Inhale as lie on belly with your hands on the floor under your shoulders. HISS on the exhale as you push up to cobra x3, tuck toes and push up to down dog, wag your tail, you’re a happy dog (Repeat entire stretch x3)

Space Suit – Bring hands overhead and interlace to make space helmet. Firmly plant right foot. Bring left foot up with knee bent. After finding balance have leg make figure 8’s in the air to insert it firmly in the space suit. Repeat on opposite leg.

Land on Saturn – Remain in standing position, plant feet with arms straight at sides twist from the waist to make Saturn’s rings.

Warrior II –The aliens are coming – Step back wide, with arms floating down to shoulder height, gaze out over front fingers, while keeping the front knee bent, make sure you can see your big toe.

Falling Stars (Moon flowers) Spread feet wide with toes out and heels in, as we come into a squat. On the inhale will shoot the stars (hands) up into space. On exhale, the stars (hands) will fall, draw elbows into ribs while in a squat. (10 breaths)

Warrior II – opposite side

Moon dust to hide from aliens (Sunflowers) Take a deep breath while sweeping arms up, slightly hinging while exhaling and moving arms toward the floor to pick up the space dust and throw it over our heads. (10 breaths)

Fold forward, step back to down dog, child’s pose – need a break to calm the nervous system after dealing with aliens, (5 breaths)

Star – Interlace hands on top of head elbows spread wide. Lets be a falling star, slowly bend forward.

Superman- lets fly through space with our rocket packs.

Rocket ship home – (camel) with palms of hands together to mimic a rocket ship.

Need to wash the space suit due to all the moon dust (Washer). Sit up tall in easy seated position, bend forward placing hands on the ground to put the suit in the washer, then place hands on shoulders and twist from waist with tail bone remaining planted. Make washer noises.

Dryer – Easy seated position , roll hands in front of chest and make drying noise.

Do a seated twist to squeeze out the remaining space dust.

Oh no! A meteor followed us home! Have children lay very still, eyes closed, on their stomachs, breathing deeply from the belly. Roll over children with exercise ball while slightly applying pressure. This provides proprioceptive input and is very calming. I play the “Star Wars” theme song during this time. Little boys love it!

Have class roll over to back for 1 minute and continue to breath deeply.

Wake up Sequence

 Meteor roll –grab behind knees and gently rock side to side.

Space stretch – pull knees into chest, then let fall to right, hands stretched out wide in T position. Repeat on opposite side.

Cricket – rub hands and soles of feet together to wake up nerve endings. Have children place hands over their eyes to feel the good energy created.

Space Juice (sesame or jojoba oil, lavender, tea tree oil) – Ask about allergies. Lavender is calming to the central nervous system. Have children sit with legs crossed and palms of hands facing up. Squirt space juice in their hands and have them rub their hands together. When everyone has space juice have class take a deep breath together while sweeping hands up, exhale while slowly lowering hands in front of nose. Inhale several times before dropping hands to heart center and ending with the magic yoga words – Namaste.

Pranayama practice – with the lights off have the class lay on their backs. Give each child a hoberman sphere that glows in the dark. Have children practice making their bellies get big on the inhale as they pull the sphere outward. On the exhale have them shrink the sphere. Do this for several breaths. Next have the children put the sphere on their bellies and see how many breaths they can keep the sphere on before it rolls off.

Yoga game

  • Musical mats – place mats in circle, take one mat away. Place yoga cards in front of the mats. When the music plays have children dance and walk in a circle, when the music stops they must find a mat and complete the yoga pose on the card on both sides. The child who didn’t find a mat becomes the yoga assistant and starts the music for another round. One of my favorite songs to use is “Hip Hop Yoga Bop.”

Snack

  • Make rocket ships out of popsicle sticks, watermelon (in triangle at top), and bananas (at bottom). Kids love them and they are easy to clean up.

 

 

 

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children