In my yoga classes, I have taught students of all ages. At the end of our practice, I am always amazed at how still and relaxed children are. Often, the most active, “wiggly” child is the one who just doesn’t want to move out of savasana (final relaxation pose).
I often teach simple breathing techniques to children at the beginning of class. To get things going, we practice animal breath, such as bear breath or bee buzzes. We count to 5 together as we breathe in slowly through our noses and then count backwards (5-4-3-2-1) as we breathe out slowly through our noses. Students often close their eyes as they do this, and I can see the tension melt from their faces! Students have come back to me later and reported that they used their calm breathing before a test, and it really helped them feel less anxious. I even once had a student tell me that 5-part breathing helped her get over the flu!
Learning to calm oneself during both anxious moments and “off” times is a very important part of growing up. Unfortunately, many children are over-scheduled and don’t know what to do with themselves when they experience “down time.” Parents, have you ever heard the words “I’m bored!” when your child faces unstructured time? Most of us have!
Practicing simple breathing techniques can also help children learn to calm their bodies and minds and just “be”—without having to “do” anything at all!