By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
If you want to make a difference in this life, teaching children has the deepest impact. Children, who gain valuable life skills early, tend to be mentally and emotionally balanced as a result. Additionally, children who accomplish mental and physical life skills tend to be successful, confident, and intelligent. Yoga is a health maintenance system, which gives children emotional, mental, and physical stability. Among the skills learned is mastering one’s breath for the purpose of lowering anxiety, thinking clearly, and discovering logical solutions to daily challenges.
Best Pranayama Techniques for Children
Yogic breathing (pranayama) is an important aspect of a well-rounded Yoga practice. Deep, full breaths increase circulation, which benefits the entire body. The increased blood flow brings fresh blood to all of the body’s organs and systems, giving a renewed sense of energy and purpose. Something as simple as breathing can shift your attitude, bring calm to the mind and body, allow you to concentrate and focus, and more. Yogic breathing, or pranayama, can be taught to children as well as adults. When teaching pranayama techniques to children, instructors should explain the breathing by using simple language that kids can understand and give them plenty of time for pranayama practice.
Yoga Air Walk
This technique incorporates body movement with breathing – thereby improving concentration and toning the core muscles. It works to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain for optimum brain performance. Children should lie on their backs, with legs straight and arms at the sides, looking up at the “sky.” They might imagine different shapes of clouds, or other items they would see in the sky. Lift the right leg up, while also raising the left arm, as you inhale deeply. Exhale, as you bring each arm and leg down. Repeat by inhaling as you lift the left leg and right arm, then exhale down, and repeat on the other side.
Pursed Lips Breathing
Teach children how to inhale completely, then slowly exhale with a cup of milk and a straw. The emphasis should be on releasing the breath as slowly as possible. Instruct children to take a deep breath in, then slowly breathe it out through the straw, creating bubbles on top of the milk. Bubbles should be small and controlled, as opposed to creating a huge one that pops.
Deep Yogic Belly Breathing
Help children visualize deep belly breathing by using a favorite stuffed animal. Children should lie on their backs, placing the stuffed animal on their belly. Instruct them to take a deep breath in, moving the animal up as high as possible. Then, ask them to exhale slowly, moving the stuffed animal as low as possible. Ask them to create “waves” with their breathing, bringing their animal for a ride, up on the inhale, down on the exhale. Focus on a smooth, steady ride for the animal.
Ten Yoga Breaths
This technique is a good stress reliever – helping to calm the mind and refocus energy. The idea is to concentrate on the breath, whether shallow or deep. Inhale, saying, “I’m breathing in one.” Then exhale, saying, “I’m breathing out one.” Repeat with two, three, four, and so on. The challenge is to try to reach the number 10 without losing focus.
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