Starting meditation and breathwork at any age offers a host of emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits. From reducing stress to improving cardiovascular health to strengthening our ability to regulate all types of emotions – the list is endless.
Breathing exercises are the perfect way to get your children interested in the world of mindfulness, meditation, and more – an interest that can provide them with tools to cultivate calm and peace where ever they are, for the rest of their life.
In this article, we’ve given some fun and simple breathing exercises to get you and your little ones started. We’ll be looking at:
- Benefits of breathing exercises for kids
- Safety precautions of breathing exercises for kids
- 5 simple breathing exercises for Kids
Benefits of breathing exercises for kids
Recent years have seen a growing interest in kids’ breathing exercises, which has been bolstered by the emerging body of research demonstrating the many varied benefits of conscious breathing for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of little ones.
For example, a number of studies investigating deep breathing exercises have shown them to help reduce blood pressure, cortisol levels, and other markers of stress in children, including those with ADHD and other neurodivergent makeups.
Furthermore, research suggests breathing exercises can also help to reduce anxiety, promote calm responses to potential triggers, sharpen focus and learning, improve memory, help to self-regulate emotions, and reduce “unwanted” behaviors in children.
The above are just a few of the benefits of simple and deep breathing exercises for kids, and the full list is incredible. I really encourage any parent or child carer to look into the benefits for themselves – you’ll be amazed!
Safety precautions of breathing exercises for kids
It’s important to discourage forceful or excessively deep breathing, as this can lead to dizziness or hyperventilation.
Similarly, it’s advisable to start with shorter durations and gradually increase the in and out breaths and number of repetitions as the child becomes more comfortable and accustomed to the exercises.Also, as a general rule, breathing exercises involving internal or external breath retention are considered somewhat advanced and thus not recommended for young children.
Make sure to always supervise your children during breathing exercises to ensure they are following the instructions correctly and not experiencing any difficulties, discomfort, or unsafe practices.
Finally, anyone with underlying health conditions is recommended to exercise caution and refrain from practicing the following exercises until authorized by a trusted medical professional and/or performed with an experienced guide.
5 simple breathing exercises for Kids
#1: Balloon Breaths (Diaphragmatic/Belly/Abdominal Breathing)
This technique can help wind things down at bedtime. Known to slow heart rate, reduce stress, and stabilize blood pressure, it can help your kiddo relax and settle into sleep mode.
- After finding a comfortable seated or standing position, start by asking your child to breathe normally for a few breaths, and encouraging them to pay attention to how their body and mind feel in that moment.
- Next, guide your child to place one hand on their belly, just above the belly button, and the other hand on their upper chest.
- Guide them to imagine that their belly is a big balloon, that they’re trying to fill up and deflate as slowly as is comfortable using their breath. For this, instruct them to take a deep breath in through their nose, directing the air down towards their belly.
- As they inhale, guide them to notice how their belly expands upwards and outwards like a big balloon, and how their bottom hand rises along with it.
- Next, guide them to breathe out slowly through the mouth, observing how their belly deflates and their bottom hand lowers back down.
- After practicing several deep belly breaths, ask them how they feel and if they notice any difference in their sensations.
#2: Curly Tongue Breaths (Sitali Breathing for Kids)
Note that some people have difficulty rolling their tongues, but that’s okay! Either try the technique with a partially rolled tongue or try breathing through your teeth!
This technique has amazing cooling effects! Try this on a hot day so that your kid can have fun in the sun.
- Starting in a comfortable seated or standing position, ask your child to breathe normally for a few breaths, encouraging them to notice how their body and mind feel in that moment.
- Next, ask them to open their mouth and roll their tongue so that it forms a little tube. The lips usually naturally purse around the tongue.
- Once the tongue is rolled, direct the child to take a few, natural breaths in and out through their rolled tongue to test how it feels. Can they notice how breathing through the rolled tongue makes the air feel cooler?
- If they feel comfortable and able to continue, next ask them to take a slower breath in through the rolled tongue for four seconds, counting silently together: 4…3…2…1.
- Then move onto the out-breath, ask them to take a show breath out through the rolled tongue for four seconds, counting silently together: 4…3…2…1.
- Encourage them to repeat this same pattern three more times and ask how they feel afterward. Can they give you 3 words to describe the change?
#3: Window Mister Breath (Ujjayi for Kids)
Note that this technique is a little more complex, so best suited to older children (approx 7 years and over) and adolescents.
This technique can be used as an anchor into the present moment, improving concentration, and instilling a sense of calm. One to try before heading off to school or tackling homework.
- Beginning in a comfortable seated or standing position, ask your child to take a few natural breaths, encouraging them to notice how their body and mind feel at that moment.
- Next, ask them to open their mouths slightly, and take a few breaths as though they are trying to mist up a window. Can they feel the slight restriction at the back of their throat that naturally happens as they do so?
- Once they’ve felt this slight restriction, as them to maintain it, but this time, with the mouth closed.
- Then, with the mouth still closed and holding on to that slightly tight feeling in the throat, ask them to take a slow breath in for 4 seconds.
- Pausing for a second or two after the in-breath, then ask them to exhale the same way, counting for 4 seconds.
- Ask them to repeat this process for 4 or 5 rounds, checking in afterward with them about how they found it, what they felt during and after, and if they found it easy or challenging and why.
#4: Buzy Bee Breath (Bhramari for Kids)
This technique stimulates the autonomic nervous system, meaning that it can bring kids from hyper to chilled real quick.
- Beginning in a comfortable seated or standing position, ask your child to take a few natural breaths. Ask: How do they feel at this moment?
- Next, ask them to take a breath in, and when they’re ready, hum for a few seconds. Now, what animal does this remind them of? Can they hear it sounds like a bunch of busy bees?
- Once they’re on board with the bee sounds, as them to close their eyes (this is optional) and place their thumbs in their ears, all other fingers splayed and pointing up (yep, you guessed it – these are their bee wings!)
- Now that they’re in position, guide them to take a deep breath in, and when they’re ready, exhale slowly, humming as they do so. Remind them to wiggle their wings!
- Ask them to repeat this process for 4 rounds or so. Afterward, again encourage them to notice any changes in their thoughts, feelings, or body. Did they enjoy it? What other animals can they think of to inspire a breathing exercise?
#5: Flower & Candle Breath
This breathing exercise can enhance your child’s imagination & bring their focus in on beautiful imagery.
- Encourage your child to sit or stand up nice and tall, spine straight and strong.
- Ask them to place one hand on their belly and the other hand on their heart.
- Explain that to inhale, they should keep their lips closed and imagine they are smelling a beautiful flower, taking a deep and slow breath in through their nose.
- To breathe out, they pretend that they are blowing out birthday candles, giving a long exhale through their mouth.
- Following the instructions in step 3, guide them to take a deep breath in through their nose, filling up their belly, and count silently together: 4…3…2…1.
- Now, following the instructions in step 4, guide them to breathe out through their mouth, letting all the air out, and count silently together: 4…3…2…1.
- Encourage them to repeat this same pattern three more times and ask how they feel afterward. Perhaps encourage them to write down how they felt before and afterward, and to think: Can they think of a time in their day when this might be helpful?
If you’ve enjoyed this article on breathing exercises for kids, check out some of our other kid’s yoga articles below: