Yoga and Mindfulness for children and Teens.
Why are Yoga teachers always telling us to breathe when we are always breathing anyway?
Breathing is something that we do to stay alive, our body doesn't need reminding, it just does it. Even if we were to hold our breath, our body eventually forces us to take a breath, so why do we need to be told all the time?
The truth is, many of us do not pay attention to our breath. Because it is always there in the background, working away without our attention, we simply forget. Many people have not taken a conscious breath in months, if not years!
By creating a relationship with the breath we can use it to help us calm down (or even to create more energy), to help us feel less anxious and help lift our mood.
The mistake I see people interested in working with their breath or introducing their children to different breathing practices is to skip the basics. they move straight on to the complicated or more in depth practices before building that relationship with their breath.
In this post I want to share with you how you can help your child most effectively start a breathing practice by starting with one must know strategy! Even if you have been practicing breathing techniques with your child, come back to this one! This is going to help improve your practice together so much!
One way to practice breath awareness is to practice breath sensing. Coming into a comfortable seat or laying down, children bring an awareness to where they are feeling their breath. They may feel it in their chest or belly, but we do not prompt them, we just let them sense it. We don't tell them where they might feel their breath, just let them tell us. This is important because it is going to be different for everyone, there are no wrong answers.
The 2 minute test
This is a great way to get older children interested in watching their breath as it serves as a little experiment. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Count how many breaths your child takes in that 2 minutes (or try this with yourself first). It may be tempting to try and slow the breath down, but please allow this to be natural and breathe as you regularly would.
Once you have your number of breaths divide 120 by that number. 120 because that is how many seconds are in 2 minutes. This will give you the length of one average breath. For example, say I time myself and I get 15 breaths. I do 120 ÷ 15 = 8.
This tells me each breath is 8 seconds on average. I am not going to go into what is 'good' and what is 'bad' because that is not the point, we are not doing this to compare or judge our breath in any way. And my number was completely made up so please do not compare to that. The point of this is just to bring that awareness.
Now we have this number, we can work within our own ratios when it comes to breath work and then we can look at where to go from there. This is going to be so much more beneficial to your child than just a made up number and random practices. We can now work with them to increase their lung capacity. This is important when we are using breathing practices for our child's well-being. We are working towards take slower, deeper breaths when we are trying to relax and calm, but we are doing it in a way that works for and with our child, because each child is unique.
Try practicing some breath awareness with your child this week. Try the 2 minute test and see what each of your resting breathing rates are. Let me know how you get on with this, I'd love to know.
Practice breath work with me
If you would like to dive deeper into breathing practices for improved well-being, book a call with me to see if working one to one would suit your family. You can book here: Book a free 15 minute discovery call with me
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