FOR CHILDREN aged 7–12 years:
Breathing to relax
Nia, aged 10
My mum has done stuff like this with me ever since I was little. She used to tell me stories and let the characters breathe in and out and say what they are most grateful for or something really positive or happy. I never really thought about it but it is very relaxing and calming especially after a bad day at school or whenever I could not get to sleep easily.
Breathing to relax
What is all this stuff about breathing being so good for you? You are probably not aware that you’re breathing at all when you’re breathing. I never think about breathing. Do you? I think about
eating and snacking and drinking but I never think about having to breathe unless I’m out of breath after a run. Well, the body just
does the breathing automatically for us, which is kinda cool, isn’t it?!
But there are different qualities of breathing. For example, when we’re stressed or worried our breathing gets really fast and tends
to be more shallow, from the top part of our chest. And here
is the problem; shallow breathing does not give the body or
the brain enough oxygen. This is the reason that when you’re stressed, you can’t think straight, find it hard to focus or
concentrate and you may even get tearful or snappy with
those around you.
So, the key to proper, relaxing breathing is that you want to breathe deep from within your belly and not from your chest. So, now, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest please ... and while you’re breathing in and out a few times observe and ask yourself: Which hand is moving most?............. Ideally you want only the hand on your belly to move up... when you breathe in ....and down ....when you breathe out. Watch a sleeping baby or a dog – they do it perfectly well.
The Balloon Breath exercise
The Balloon Breath - exercise – read this or
listen my the audio recording:
If you want, you can do the actual Balloon
Breath exercise with me now;
1. Get comfortable - ideally as you’re starting
out, lie on a flat surface.
2. Turn your phone or other electronic devices
to airplane mode.
3. Place your hand on your belly and close
your eyes if that feels comfortable.
4. Imagine blowing up a balloon - it can be any colour, shape or size.
5. Then picture yourself letting the air out slowly until the balloon goes flat. Can you see it? In a minute, we’re going to pretend your stomach is a balloon.
You’re going to take a deep breath in, all the way down into your tummy, hold it for a few seconds, then let it go gently. Ready?
6. Take a slow, deep breath in through the nose...........and let it out through the mouth......in .....and out....... Now breathe slowly in so you can feel your belly raising your hands on the in breath ....and then lowering your hand on the out breath. Let’s breathe in again on a count of - one....two...three.....hold..... Now breathe out more slowly - one....two...three....four..five... six! Great!
7. Take a few minutes to practise this type of balloon breathing as you’re counting in for 3 and out for 6.
8. P A U S E !
9. When you’re ready, pay attention to your hands and your feet. Where are they? What are they touching? Move or stretch your hands and feet and open your eyes!
I bet you’re feeling much calmer then before?! Deep, slow breathing gives the body and the brain lots of good oxygen. This is a clue for the body to relax and feel calm. It knows all is good now! You can think straight again, you can focus better and your concentration and patience is back too. In fact, this is a really good exercise to do before doing your homework or before bed-time.
One little tip: if it hasn’t worked so well this first time - don’t worry, that’s pretty normal. This kind of breathing can take time to master. Maybe you’d prefer to imagine blowing up a beach ball or blowing out the candles on a birthday cake - just see what works for you. You will enjoy it more if you like the imagery.
Have a try!
The Balloon Breath
Try the balloon breath exercise
ONE LITTLE TIP:
If it hasn’t
worked so well this first time – don’t worry, that’s pretty normal. This kind of breathing can take time
To help with boredom...
CLICK HERE to find ways to help with boredom during lockdown.