Updated: Mar 24, 2020
When teaching yoga and mindfulness to kids, it helps to turn the lesson into a fun activity through play, movement, visualization, and games.
Children respond well to visual activities that combine thought and action. When teaching breathing techniques I often introduce visual cues that are fun and playful.
Mindfulness and yoga techniques can offer children tools for self-regulation, which in turn gives the child an opportunity to pause and reset when they feel they are losing control. Try using these calming breathing techniques at home, in the classroom, and beyond!
The cotton ball race - This game teaches kids that breathing takes practice and focus.
Give each child a cotton ball and a straw. Ask them to go to the end of their mat with the cotton ball and blow the cotton ball down to the opposite end of their mat.
Bubble Breath - Blowing Bubbles is a fun way to teach children about using a calming breath. The breathing required for blowing soap bubbles is the same as what is used for a full belly breath in yoga. Children respond well to visual activities that combine thought and action. In my classes we call bubble breath, the Happy Breath.
"Take a deep breath, now let it go. Fill it up with a happy thought and watch it grow."
Breathing Ball - One of my favorite tools to teach breath is the Hoberman sphere. It is a geodesic sphere that can be folded and unfolded. In my classes, we call this the Breathing Ball, because we can mimic the movements of breathing by folding and expanding the sphere. For example as the sphere folds inward, we imagine the exhale; as the sphere expands, we imagine the lungs expanding on the inhale.
If you don’t have one of these, no worries! Simply touch all ten fingers and palms together and on the in-breath, expand your hands out while keeping your fingers touching, to create your very own expanding breathing ball.
Pinwheel Breathing - Pinwheels are a fun tool to use when introducing kids to deep breathing. Have your kids focus on taking in a deep, slow breath, and exhaling steadily to spin the wheel. Encourage the child to pay close attention to the wheel as it spins faster with each breath. Remember when teaching kids keep it fun and playful.