In yoga, one of the first and most important practices to teach a beginner of any age is how to breathe correctly. This is the practice of breath awareness, or “pranayama,” as it is known in ancient Sanskrit text. Unfortunately, the majority of us are unable to breathe correctly. Instead of using the full capacity of the lungs, we only use a small percentage and breathe from the upper chest instead of the abdomen. Yoga focuses on learning to deepen the breath and encourages the use of different breathing techniques, which help us handle stress. Poor breathing patterns can affect the body mentally, physically and emotionally.
The Learn With Yoga: ABC Yoga Cards for Kids deck contains two basic, yet very powerful breathing techniques: Inhale•Exhale (I card) and Ocean Breath (O card) postures. A sample of Ocean Breath pose is available by clicking here.
The purpose of the breathing techniques is to calm and ground the student. By becoming more aware (through focus) of one’s breath, the student is able to control one’s body and slow it down, beginning a restorative process. The more aware we are of our breath we are, the more centered and grounded we become.
One (or both) of these poses should be done at the beginning of every session so that the students are centered and have a consistent routine. Use centering seated poses like Quiet pose (Q card) or sit cross-legged (Easy pose) for tuning into and becoming more aware of our breath. Warm-up poses (described below) are a perfect opportunity to establish the coordination of the breath to all the movements and actions in the poses.
Sample Yoga Pose for Kids (and Adults too!)
Ocean Breath pose is a simple but very effective pose for calming down and focusing. This is a great exercise to be done stand alone as a quick transition break or at the beginning of a yoga set. Click here for Ocean Breath pose.