Breathing exercises are a brilliant tool to use to help with focus, managing stress, and boosting overall mental health in children. They not only play a significant role in yoga, but also in everyday life.
When children learn the art of mindful breathing through different techniques, they acquire a powerful tool that helps in regulating their emotions and responses to the environment around them, promoting a sense of peace and tranquillity. It also aids in improving concentration and brings about a refreshing surge of energy, and can even be beneficial when it comes to managing respiratory issues like asthma as well!
Teaching kids fun and imaginative breathing exercises can be an effective way to introduce them to the world of mindfulness and self-regulation.
When you learn that your breath is linked to your state, you have it in your power to keep a steady head whenever you need. ‘Take a deep breath’ is wonderful and simple wisdom, but it can be harder than you think when you are feeling a little challenged – one of the reasons why we practice it in yoga!
I use breathing techniques regularly in our Yoga Adventures and Mindfulness Zen Den series! So, we wanted to share a collection of our favourite fun breathing exercises for kids that will captivate their imagination and encourage them to embrace the practice wholeheartedly.
1. Hot Air Balloon Breathing
Invite the kids to sit comfortably, and imagine inflating a massive, colourful hot air balloon. As they take a deep breath in through their noses, they cup their hands around their mouths. As they exhale slowly, encourage them to expand their hands outward, visualising the growing hot air balloon. Let them sway gently from side to side, admiring the balloon soaring gracefully in the sky. This exercise not only fuels their imagination but also instils a sense of calm and relaxation.
If you want to see the hot air balloon in action within one of our yoga adventures, then check out Squish the Fish!
And, if a hot air balloon isn’t quite enough to capture your little one’s imagination, then try and imagine blowing up a jigglypuff!
2. Dragon Fire Breaths
Transform the kids into mighty dragons! Seated with fingers interlaced underneath the chin, they’ll inhale deeply, lifting their elbows. Exhaling with a powerful ‘hah!’ sound, envisioning a dragon breathing fire, they will simultaneously lower their elbows. This breathing exercise is exhilarating, infusing them with courage and energy. This makes it a fantastic choice for helping us feel brave when we might be nervous or pepped up when we’re a bit tired.
3. Volcano Breathing
Try this brilliant breathing exercise for kids! It’s called the Trolls Volcano Breathing Exercise – and it’s a great way to get kids to focus on their breaths.
In this breathing exercise for kids, we do one big volcano breath, followed by short sharp breaths. This gets children thinking about the difference between short and deep breathing – and they can use the Volcano technique whenever they feel like they need to take a big inhale and exhale to relax!
4. Tumble Dryer Whirls
If you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat, then with the tumble dryer whirls breathing exercise, kids sit in a cross-legged position and simulate a tumble dryer with creative hand movements and breath coordination. Spinning their pointed index fingers in front of their mouths, they take long, satisfying exhales, creating a swishy sound that captivates their attention, promoting relaxation and focus.
You can see this breathing technique in action in our Washing Machine Song Yoga Disco!
5. Chilled Tongue Tube
Some people can curl the sides of their tongue up, others can’t… it’s a genetic thing! If you can, curl up the sides and make your tongue into a tube or straw. Then with your tube-like tongue sticking out a little bit, inhale and suck the air in over your tongue. Exhale slowly through your nose. This has a wonderful cooling effect and refreshes the throat. Very cleansing!
This refreshing breathing exercise invites kids to cool down and cleanse their bodies and minds. If curling the tongue is challenging, a big toothy grin and sucking the air in sharply works wonders too!
When we put this one into practice at Cosmic Kids, we ask kids to imagine shaping their tongue into a straw and taking a big drink!
6. Darth Vader Breathing
Sometimes it’s all about taking something that kids love and recognise, and applying it to a breathing exercise! That’s what we’ve done in our Star Wars Yoga Adventure.
Darth Vader has a distinctive breathing pattern that anyone can replicate. By getting kids to focus on how Darth Vader breathes and copying his breaths while making that iconic noise, we’re getting kids to pay attention to their breathing!
7. Buzzing Bumble Bee Breaths
Known as Bhramari in Pranayama, this practice transports kids into a world buzzing with bumblebees. Seated comfortably, kids will inhale through their noses and exhale with a humming sound, resembling a bumblebee. Placing fingers in their ears enhances the vibration, providing a calming and soothing effect that envelops them in a cocoon of peace and tranquillity.
8. Petal Breathing
Petal breathing is where we upturn our palms and make the shape of a flower with our hand. Then, we open our fingers like the petals of a flower as we breathe in, and close our fingers with our thumb as we breathe out.
In the clip below, Jaime uses the petal breathing exercise! Pip is one of My Little Pony’s most-loved characters – and she’s full of confidence! So using petal breathing, we try to take some of that confidence in ourselves – getting kids to feel positively about themselves as well as calming them down with a breathing exercise!
Bonus: Ocean Waves
Let the kids immerse themselves in the soothing sounds of the ocean. Encourage them to take a deep breath in, and as they exhale, make a soft ‘whooshing’ sound, resembling the ocean waves. This auditory experience is incredibly calming, helping kids wash away stress and immerse themselves in a sea of relaxation.
Inculcating these imaginative and joyful breathing exercises in children’s routines will equip them with invaluable tools to navigate the world with a balanced mind and a resilient spirit. If you have them a try, then please let us know how you got on!