“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” – Pema Chödrön
Mindfulness – be present, be aware, be non-judgemental. Mindfulness is not difficult, we just need to remember to do it.
These days life is super busy and the world is a fast pace place. We have learnt to expect most things at an instance thanks to technology, the internet and social media!!!
It is very easy to become overwhelmed, stressed and feeling exhausted.
Whether you are an adult of a child, you can feel the emotions of stress and exhaustion.
Every now and then we ALL need to take a big, deep calming breath! We need to re-centre and ground ourselves. Feel balanced again.
Breath. Step Back. Think. React.
We have all heard “just take a deep breath” a million times. Maybe you have tired this. Maybe you have noticed that taking the time to take long deep breaths helps you feel more centred and calm – but did you ever think about why?
Deep breaths send oxygen to the brain, soothing the amygdala, a small area in the middle of each hemisphere that acts as the brain’s alarm system.
When the amygdala is activated, it responds with the primal reactions of fight, flight, or freeze and blocks the prefrontal cortex’s ability to think clearly. This is great when we’re in actual danger, but in most cases of stress, the amygdala hijacks our ability to respond mindfully under pressure.
Deep breathing can help our present mindset enormously. We cannot force the development of mindfulness. But we can practice every day. Practice makes perfect. Make it a habit.
By starting to implement the below breathing techniques from a young age, it will prepare your child for their future and all the stress and chaos that may lay ahead. Giving our children the gift to live in the moment, to be present and to be aware is the greatest gift of all.
Below are some fun but very important breathing techniques that will help your child concur belly breathing when stressed or out of whack.
Make it a family routine, practice breathing around the dinner table, together before bedtime or when anyone in the family is upset. I love to practice in the car or bath time.
Give these breathing methods a try and see how much calmer your family become.
Let’s start with my sons (3 years old) favourites. I rotate between techniques daily, so I know if there is ever a time I have a few up my sleeve. Depending on his mood depends on what breathing “game” he wants to do.
Be Strong like a tree
My son and I actually made this up while playing around one day and its his favourite.
This breathing “game” needs at least 2 people.
Do you know the yoga tree pose? (see photo).
One person (person 1) stands tall, strong in tree pose.
To start the game person 2 will say “Stand strong like a tree.”
Person 1 stands strong in tree pose.
Now person 2 inhales a big deep breath, really animate it. Pause. Then slowly exhale to “blow” the tree down. Think 3 little pigs. Do at least 2 big breaths before the tree ( person 1) falls over. Person 1 will sway from side to side feeling the wind (breath),
Then swap over.
This games can go on forever in my house.
Sitting in a comfortable position, sit up nice and tall.
Take a big breath in. Pause.
Now poke out your tongue and Breath our loud like a dragon (make a loud dragon like noise)
Repeat several times. Taking it nice and slow.
We also do the same for Tiger or lion or even bear.
Let’s fly like a butterfly. Standing up straight, start inhaling, taking a big breath in we raise our arms up high. Pause at the top. Then as we slowly exhale we float our arms down like a butterfly.
Repeat several times.
Uppppppp and dowwwnnnnn, Uppppppp and downnnnnn, innnn and outttttt.
Make sure they go super slow. Enjoying each breath.
There are defiantly times when my son is just up and down, up and down. And I have to slow him right down.
Stand with your feet wide apart and your arm dangling in front of your nose and body like an elephant’s trunk.
As you breathe in deeply through your nose, raise your arm up high above your head. Then slowly swing your arm down again as you breathe out through your mouth.
We like to make a loud elephant noise in our house.
Sitting in a comfortable position, place your hands around your mouth as if you were about to blow up a balloon.
Take a deep breath in through the nose and, as your slowly exhale through your mouth, start to spread your hands out as if you are blowing up a great big balloon. Hold your hand position as you inhale again and then spread your hands further as you exhale.
Once your balloon is as big as it can be, gently sway from side to side as you release your balloon up into the sky.
Bumble Bee Breaths
Known as Bhramari in Pranayama practice. Pranayama being the control of the breath in Yoga.
Sitting comfortably with your legs crossed, breath in through your nose, then with fingers in your ears hum (like a bee. Buzzzz) out your exhalation.
The lovely comforting resonance of this has a calming effect and done with eyes closed can make it even more peaceful.
Take 5 Breathing
Sit comfortably, resting one hand in front of you with fingers outstretched like a star and the pointer finger of your other hand ready to trace your hand.
Starting at the base of your thumb on the outside of your hand, breathe in slowly through your nose as you slide your pointer finger up to the top of your thumb.
Breathe out slowly and slide your pointer finger down the inside of your thumb.
Breathe in as you slide your finger up the next finger and out as you slide down. Continue breathing in and out as you trace your whole hand.
With my son we call it the Johnny Whoop one. Instead of saying Johnny we breath in.
I challenge you to try this for 2 weeks with the family and see if you can notice any difference. I like to do at least 2 a day. Depending on the age of your kids. My son is only 3 so his concentration and focus is minimal.
You can find printable cards here for the above breathing exercises.