When my daughter falls and scrapes her knee the first words
out of my mouth are often “take some deep breaths.” And Sure enough (even at 2 years old) she
starts to inhale and exhale slowly and rhythmically as the tears dry up. The
benefits of breath work (pranayama) are vast, and for children that’s no
exception. Taking deep breaths decreases
stress and anxiety, strengthens the core muscles, and works as a natural pain reliever.
Start early when teaching your little ones
pranayama, and it is sure improve their well-being…and yours!
Here are some exercises you can try at home…
Use feathers to demonstrate how breath works. Hold the feather in your hand, and tell them
to “blow” as if they were blowing on hot food or a candle. Let them observe how the feather flies
through the air. We often pair this up with an eagle pose in our toddler yoga
classes! For older kids you can make it more challenging by instructing them to
try to keep the feather in the air for as long as possible by only using their
breath. No hands allowed!
Take a small toy or stuffed animal for a ride on your
belly. Instruct the child to lay on
their back. Place the toy on their
belly. Tell them to watch the toy move
up and down as they breathe. As they
inhale the toy should move up toward the sky, and as they exhale the toy will
sink toward the ground. It may help to
demonstrate the task on your own belly first.
Allow your child to create some really amazing art with
their breath. Drip some watered down
pain onto a piece of paper and then instruct them to blow through a straw to
move the paint around the page. Not only
does it take a little diaphragmatic breath work, but it engages their artistic
side as well!
Happy breathing! J