Artwork by Anni Betts from Peaceful Like a Panda
Here’s a question I get a lot: Why do we have to teach children to breathe? They’re doing it all day long, right? 🤔
Well, of course! But learning how to control our breathing is vital–different types of breath exercises have different benefits. And it’s essential to be able to recognize when our breath is being affected by our emotions (short, shallow breathing when stressed, for example).
For young children, just learning how to differentiate between long and short breaths is really important. When a child can identify that she’s experiencing short breaths, and learns how to slow it down on her own–she’ll be better able to handle the inevitable high-anxiety situations she’ll encounter in life.
My exercise Hot Air Balloon, from my book Peaceful Like a Panda, has quick, short inhalations followed by a long exhalation. It’s kid-friendly and fun, and a great focus reset–waking up the brain with its rapid intake of oxygen during the quick, short breaths in, and clearing out stress with a long exhale.
Let’s go on a hot-air balloon ride!
You can take your balloon anywhere you want.
Take quick, short breaths in through your nose: sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff.
As you breathe in, lift your arms out to the sides and up toward the sky.
You’re filling up your balloon with air so it can fly.
Breathe out slowly. Bring your arms back down.
Do it again!
Take short, quick breaths in through your nose: sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff.
Lift your arms out and up.
Breathe out. Bring your arms back down.
Do it again, as many times as you want.
It’s time for an adventure!
I wrote a dreamy song to go with this exercise, too–it’s called Up in the Air, and it’s one of my favorites from my most recent album, Songs for Peaceful Pandas Volume 1. 🎶
The exercise works beautifully with the song–once children’s brains are awake, fire up their imaginations with musical hot-air balloon adventure. You could ask children to close their eyes and dream up anywhere they want to go…then guide them to imagine what they’re seeing as they soar through the air! 💕