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5 fun breathing exercises to introduce your child to for a healthy lifestyle

Young mother and cute little daughter meditating in lotus pose together at green summer park.
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The awareness of breath and practicing breathing techniques or exercises is called Pranayama. Yoga breaths strengthen the connection between mind and body, helping it to relax and rejuvenate. Practicing yoga breaths on a regular basis with your child will help you and your child unwind, stay calm and focused, it will also help release stress or anxiety.

We ask Sabrina Merchant, the founder of Li’l Yogis, a certified kids yoga expert and the author of 'Ocean Yoga', to share some fun yoga breathing exercises to help your kids build a healthy lifestyle from a young age.

Bumble Bee Breath: This breath is presented in three steps, working to bring awareness from the outside in. After each step encourage your child to share his experience.

Benefits: Calm, focus

What to do:

1. Sit or stand up tall.

2. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose before exhaling out to “Hummmmmmm” for as long as possible.

3. Try it again but this time with the eyes closed. Focus on the humming sound. What did you notice? Was it different with your eyes closed?

4. Try it again with your eyes closed and ears covered with your hand. Where did your focus go? What did you notice? How do you feel?

5. Experiment with breathing out other sounds such as “Zzzzz”, “Ohhhh”, “Shhhh”, “Lllll” or “Sssss”.

Rest with Breathing Buddies: In this activity the weight of the breathing ‘buddy’ (a stuffed beanie doll or animal) brings your child’s awareness to their breath as he/she feels and sees the buddy moving up and down on their abdomen.

Benefits: Calm, restore

What to do:

1. Lie down on you back. Place your buddy on your belly so that it can get comfortable for a ride, rising and falling as u breath in and out slowly and deeply.

2. Close your eyes and start to practice your balloon breathing, by breathing in, filling your belly all the way up, and then slowly exhaling to let out all the air.

3. Feel you buddy moving up and down.

Back to Back Breathing: Back to back breathing is a partner breath exercise that offers an opportunity to connect with your child in a deep and meaningful way. Use it as transition to bedtime, sharing time, or anytime you need calm and connection.

Benefits: Calm, connect, focus

What to do:

1. Sit back to back with your partner in Easy pose and close your eyes. let the weight of your body push back against your partner.

2. Place your hands slowly on your lower belly.

3. Imagine your belly is a blood. To inflate your balloon belly, breathe in slowly though you nose, filling up your balloon belly. stick out your belly to fill it up all the way.

4. Slowly exhale through your nose and feel your balloon belly deflate.

5. Continue breathing together for 1 minute or more with your partner.

6. What did you notice? How do you feel? Share with your partner.

Take 5 Breathing Exercise: This Take 5 Breathing Exercise is a wonderful way to switch off the stress response. It brings the body back into balance, slowing and deepening the breath and slowing down the heart rate, while harnessing the need to move with an action that requires focus and provides sensory feedback to our brains. Best of all, Take 5 Breathing is simple, enjoyable, free, and you can use it anywhere, anytime.

Benefits: Calm, focus

What to do:

1. Stretch your hand out like a star.

2. Get the pointer finger of the other hand ready to trace your fingers up and down.

3. Slide up each finger slowly slide down the other side.

4. Breath in through your nose and breath out through your mouth.

5. As you breath in slide up and as you breath out slide down.

6. Keep going until you have finished tracing your hand

Woodchopper Breath: Wood Chopper Breath is an excellent tool for students to “huh” it out it a controlled and safe manner. Use woodchopper to emotionally prepare. Taking in the positive and releasing the negative is the first step in being able to develop a growth mindset.

Benefits: Releases stress, energises

What to do:

1. Stand tall in Mountain Pose and take a few deep breaths.

2. Then take your feet mat-width apart (a little wider than hip-width). Clasp your hands together in front of your body. Take a long breath in while raising your hands above your head.

3. Then, on a vigorous exhale with your mouth open, forcefully take your hands down between your legs. Hang your head and completely let go of all the tension in your body.

4. Close your eyes, if that feels comfortable, and repeat the steps. Let the children feel the effects of this energizing breathing technique.