Have you ever lost something and after searching all over for it, discovered it was in plain sight all along? In an often stressful world, we can spend a lot of time and money seeking ways to calm ourselves and our children. I’d like to share a simple breathing technique that can help alleviate stress and is literally right under our nose!
First, let’s have some fun! Introduce your children to the power of the breath with this simple activity adapted from Animooves: Yoga & Creativity Inspired by Animals.
All you need for this activity are some cotton balls and drinking straws.
Inhale through the straw to suspend the cotton ball on the end of the straw. Next, blow through the straw to propel the cotton ball forward. Experiment with directing the cotton ball along a straight line to further develop control of the breath and awareness of breathing patterns.
Our breathing patterns not only reflect our mental and emotional states, but can also influence them. For example, when we are stressed we often take shallow breaths. However, if we breathe in this shallow way at other times, it can actually cause us to feel stressed.
When we inhale and exhale deeply, we help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which enables our body and mind to rest and rejuvenate. In order to breathe deeply, we relax our abdominal muscles and breathe in through our nose, allowing the breath to expand the belly. The exhalation is also done through the nose, while the belly draws in, toward the spine. Here is an easy way to practice this technique:
Item(s) needed: a small pillow or beanbag-type toy
Lie down on your back and place the small pillow or toy on your abdomen. Think of your breath like an ocean wave. As you breathe in, your belly rises like the crest of the wave. As you exhale, the wave recedes. The pillow or toy is floating on the ocean of the breath, rising and falling with each inhalation and exhalation.
Sharing simple ways to calm and rejuvenate body and mind with our children is a precious gift to them. When children grow up with this knowledge it becomes second nature to them….as natural as breathing!
For more yoga, creativity, and animal awareness activities visit www.Animooves.com.
Children should always be supervised and it is generally advised that a healthcare practitioner be consulted before beginning any type of exercise program.
Jackie Demeri Costello is a certified yoga teacher and Montessori trained early childhood educator. She is the author of Animooves: Yoga & Creativity Inspired by Animals, available on Amazon.