As a parent guiding your child in the practice of yoga, it is essential that you help her become aware of the power of her breath. When children learn to breathe deeply and fully, they immediately notice a change in how they feel. They often note feeling calmer, more focused, less agitated, and less reactive. Try to incorporate at least one type of conscious breathing activity into each yoga session, and always point out its benefits by asking questions that help your child notice the effects of the exercise on her own state of being. The benefits and information in the “What to Do” and “What to Say” sections of each breathing exercise can serve as a guide to get those discussions going. For example, you might ask your child how she feels after practicing Power Breath. She might say, “energized,” “powerful,” or “confident.” You might then ask, “Can you think of a time of day or a situation where it might be helpful to practice Power Breath?” Through these discussions, you can help your child connect the exercise to times in her life when the breath could be a useful tool for self-regulation. Over time, hopefully she will be inspired to use these simple, conscious breathing exercises as needed. You may wonder how much children are learning and how much they will retain after a yoga practice.
Over and over again, parents and children have shared how they are able to use breathing exercises the most consistently and effectively as a daily tool. Many children express how focused breathing such as Ocean Breath and Balloon Breath help them fall asleep more easily, settle their nerves before a test or performance, or calm down before hitting their sibling when frustrated. If your child can take away deep breathing skills from your yoga sessions together, then you have done your job successfully as a yoga instructor andparent. Breathing activities are simple and quick, and anyone (even a child!) can do them anywhere for instant focus, energy, or calm. Truly, it is the simplest tool for self-regulation.
Discussion: Oxygen = Energy
This is a fun experiment that can help your older child understand the importance of the breath. Be sure to remind your child of your family’s rules regarding fire safety. This experiment should only be demonstrated by an adult. Place a glass over a lit tea light candle and discuss what happens. Why did the flame get smaller and then go out? Fire requires oxygen to maintain its energy (“life” or prana ). Do humans need oxygen to sustain energy and life? What happenc, vilien we don’t get enough? Have your child slouch over and try to take a deep breath what is the result? Now, light the candle again. Allow the flame to diminish but take the glass away just before it goes out completely. Discuss what happens. Make the connection to the importance of taking time to breathe fully to energize and refresh our bodies and minds.
Consider this: One good breath will allow a child to relax mentally and physically. One good breath will teach a child to pause before committing to her words and actions. One good breath will help a child release her anger and approach difficult situations with a clear mind. One good breath will help a child gather the courage to take a calculated risk, whether it’s trying something different or making a new friend. One good breath will improve a child’s focus, so she can perform better at school, on the ball field, and at home. One good breath will remind a child to smile, to forgive, to play, to love, to live. If one good breath will help a child achieve all of this, imagine what a lifetime of good breaths will do! There is truly something profound that happens when a family comes together for the simple purpose of conscious breathing. Take time to breathe together as a family. No words needed! Notice stress levels diminish as connectedness improves, all with a few deep breaths.