Yoga and breathing are two amazing ways to help kids start to learn more about their bodies and their emotions.
And when kids are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or unable to focus, yoga poses with mindfulness breathing is an excellent tool to help them manage those emotions.
Kids that learn yoga poses are learning how to move their bodies in new ways. Yoga poses for kids can help them pay attention to how their body is placed and how it can move.
This awareness and attention can help them learn to recognize their feelings and emotions, too.
Mindfulness breathing exercises, on their own, are great tools for kids to regulate their emotions, like learn how to calm down when they are angry or frustrated.
If you combine the yoga poses with breathing exercises, you can really make a difference!
How to teach kids yoga poses with breathing techniques:
- Talk about what breathing does for our body to keep us healthy
- Practice the basics of breathing- in through the nose, out through the mouth
- Name how breathing helps us calm down if we are stressed and upset
- Find a favorite yoga pose and add in those deep breaths to join the two together
1. Talk about the importance of breath on keeping our body healthy:
Start by talking about how breathing keeps us alive and healthy. Many kids are fascinated by how the body works. They will be curious and maybe even ask more questions when you start to tell them how breathing helps our bodies.
Oxygen in the air helps our body function. We need oxygen to help our brains learn and to help our bodies grow. Oxygen travels through the whole body and helps our cells work.
We need to breathe in fresh air to help our brain stay focused and awake! And when we take in a nice deep breath it helps our muscles relax a little bit, even the muscle of our brain.
2. Practice breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth – plus proper expansion
Your breath travels in through your nose, past your larynx and through your trachea, all the way into your lungs. Your diaphragm is a muscle underneath your ribcage that helps your lungs expand and contract. Once the oxygen reaches your lungs, it makes its way into your bloodstream so it can travel all over your body to keep you healthy.
- Sit up tall and use your strong body to help allow more space for a deep breath with lots of oxygen.
- Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
- As you breathe in through your nose, notice if you can make your lungs and diaphragm expand.
- Then, release the air back out through your mouth nice a slow.
- Repeat several times, even closing your eyes.
- Try noticing your breath while laying down as well to really feel your “tummy” and diaphragm expand.
Here is a good kid-friendly explanation of how the lungs and respiratory system works for kids.
3. Name that you can take a deep breath when you feel mad, frustrated, angry, or sad
Deep breathing is more than just healthy for our bodies, it can help our brains and hearts as well, especially if we are feeling really big feelings.
Taking a deep breath can help settle your body so you don’t have a big reaction. When you focus on your breathing, you let your mind think about something other than the reason why you got mad.
That gives your brain some space to relax and have some time to think about a solution to the problem. Instead of reacting with your body by hitting or stomping or yelling, you start to react with deep breaths. Then your brain can start to catch up to your feelings and give you other, safer ways to react to the problem.
4. Finally, add in breath with your favorite yoga poses!
Practicing yoga poses with deep breathing is a good way to get even more breathing practice, and help train your body to breathe deeply when you encounter something difficult.
Some yoga poses are really tricky. But when you teach your body to take deep breaths while trying them, you are training your brain to pause when something difficult comes up.
Using a Yoga Flow sequence is a great way to do one pose per deep breath and help our heart rate get elevated (good for our heart health). You try one pose per breath, which means you move rather quickly through the yoga.
That can be tricky, but it gets your body moving and focused on the breath and movement, which helps you let go of other tricky feelings or thoughts.
Click here to get the kids Yoga Flow sequence pose cards.
You can also use breathing exercises, or deep breathing, when you do yoga activities (yoga books, yoga card games, or other group games). You hold each pose for 3-5 deep breaths.
Slower breathing with each pose helps stretch and strengthen your muscles! The longer you hold the pose, the deeper you can go in the pose, and the more you will feel the benefits of each pose.
Your brain will thank you for being a little more still and relaxed as well.
Here are the best kids’ yoga poses to do with mindful breathing
Sit on your heels with your hands on your knees. Notice your spine and sit up nice and tall. Take a deep breath in through your nose, then stick out your tongue and “roar” like a lion. Do this several times.
Lay on your tummy with your hands underneath your shoulders and your legs together. Take a deep breath in through your nose, then press your hands into the ground, arching your back up and looking straight ahead while breathing out a long HISSSSSSSSS. Wiggle back and forth in between breaths!
Kneel on your hands and knees with your back flat. Inhale and look up at the sky, arching your back and breathing in deeply with your belly.
Exhale and press your back towards the sky, pulling your tummy in and tucking your head. Option to seal your lips and “moo” with a humming sound that you will feel in your throat.
Stand with feet wide apart and toes pointed out slightly. Inhale and reach your arms up and out, to make a star shape. Exhale and bend your knees and arms, moving into Goddess Pose. Go back and forth several times, taking a deeper breath each time.
Warrior 1 or 2
Choose to hold either pose and breathe deeply for 3-5 breaths. Bend your knee a little more with each breath and lengthen your spine a little longer. Stretch your arms away from your body and feel your strength!
Stand tall and strong. Notice your body sway gently with each breath in and out, lengthening your spine to give your lungs even more space with each breath.
Lay flat on your back with your legs separated a little and your arms at your sides or on your tummy. Notice how your tummy rises and falls gently with each breath you take. Let your body relax into the floor and your brain relax into the breathing.
I hope you find the breathing exercises and yoga poses for kids useful! I know kids need a little more time to slow down and notice their own bodies and breathing. It can help all of us be aware, be mindful, and be a little more focused.