Before we teach kids anything like numbers or the alphabet, we should teach them to breathe correctly. Breathing is essential to our development – it changes the way we feel and interact with each other. The best part is, once taught, we can help each other. Oliver James, author of 21 Breaths: Breathing Techniques to Change your Life shares three simple breathing techniques you can do with your kids to help them feel calmer, sleep better and boost their confidence.
The breath known as 4:7:8 is world famous for relieving anxiety. By slowing our breathing down and extending exhalation (compared to inhalation) we can, metaphorically, adjust our own mood dial. Breathing to reinstate balance is such an empowering and simple way to help kids feel grounded and calm. Here’s a simple exercise you can do with kids whenever they need it:
•Inhale for four counts
•Hold your breath for seven counts
•Exhale, slowly, for eight counts
•Repeat four repetitions (or for longer if necessary)
•Supercharge this breath by gently pressing your tongue to ridge of tissue above the front (top) teeth. This pressure point stimulates deeper focus.
Bull Breath encourages the release of confidence boosting endorphins and neurotransmitters, to give them a little boost when they need it.
• Standing up, start by feeling your weight evenly balanced on your feet.
• Rise up onto your toes and do mini jumps, letting your heels hit the floor. Turn the hops into full jumps.
• After 20 hops, return to standing. Keeping your knees slightly bent, squeeze all the muscles in your leg and bum, to feel solid and grounded.
• Raising your arms up 90 degrees, with elbows and fists held tight (imagine a strongman pose), press your shoulders backwards and downwards. Allow your upper and lower body to feel strong.
• Make a face like an angry bull. Breathe strongly and quickly through both nose and mouth.
• Breathe this way, powerfully, for thirty seconds. Repeat three times, or as many times as helps you to feel empowered.
Rising Tide Breath is a brilliant breath to do with kids just before you say goodnight:
•Shut your eyes and take a breath deep into your lower belly.
•Hold your breath and squeeze every muscle in your body for as long as you can.
•Exhale and relax. Repeat this two to three times or until your body begins to relax.
•Let the next inhale be slower than the one before. Filling from your lower body up to the collarbones, feel it stretch every part of your body.
•As this wave-like sensation meets your collarbones, imagine the inhale to continue upwards. The muscles in the back of your mouth will feel like they’re starting to lift and broaden; much like the sensation of a yawn.
•Pause again on your next inhale. Once again, squeeze your entire body and then, as you exhale, let the whole body let go of any tension.
•Continue until you feel relaxed and sleepy.