Universally, breathing exercises contribute to human survival because the air we inhale circulates throughout our body systems. Unfortunately, most parents or caregivers do not take cognizance of children’s breathing patterns, which is very key to their survival. For example, what a child inhales from his environment can determine his growth and development through his mind and body.
Hence, if breathing is taken seriously and done with utter care and consciousness, it can benefit the body and increase the efficiency of everyday life and process. Breathing is a workout in itself for the body.
Table of Contents
- What is a Breathing Exercise?
- Types of Breathing Exercises for Kids
- The Advantages of Breathing Exercises for Kids
What is a Breathing Exercise?
A breathing exercise is one that helps an individual to foster proper breathing ability and maintain good breath regulation. It is so important for kids to learn because they can use it to ease their stress, anxiety, anger, or other strong emotions. For example, at Perfect Angels Learning Center, we often encourage our kids to breathe from their stomachs and as slow and deep as possible to relieve pressure and refresh their memories.
Deep breathing tells the body and brain to relax. The rate and depth of breathing are automatically (and unconsciously) controlled by homeostatic mechanisms.
For example, when your kids are exercising, carbon dioxide production increases. Furthermore, the body responds by increasing the rate and depth of breathing to facilitate greater oxygen absorption.
Examples of changes in breathing patterns that connect to emotional states and moods could be increased breathing rates in anger or anxiety situations. For instance, when you are calm, your body is in what is known as “rest and digest” mode. Your breathing is normal, your muscles are relaxed, and your heart rate is normal. It’s how you would be when you’re watching a show and relaxing.
Types of Breathing Exercises for Kids
Breath Focus Technique
This deep breathing technique uses imagery or focuses on words and phrases. Your kids can choose a focus word that makes them smile, relax, or that is simply neutral to think about. Examples include peace, let go, or ease. Nevertheless, it can be any word that suits them to focus on and repeat through constant practice.
As they build up their breathing focus practice, they can start with a 10-minute session. Gradually, increase the duration until their sessions are at least 20 minutes.
How to do it:
- Sit or lie your kids down in a comfortable place.
- Bring their awareness to their breaths while making sure they don’t change how they are breathing.
- Your kids should alternate between normal and deep breaths a few times. Notice any differences between normal breathing and deep breathing. Notice how their abdomen expands with deep inhalations.
- Ask them how shallow breathing feels compared to deep breathing.
- They should practice deep breathing for a few minutes.
- Place one hand below their belly button, keeping their belly relaxed, and notice how it rises with each inhales and falls with each exhale.
- They should let out a loud sigh with each exhale.
- Your kids should begin the practice of breath focus by combining this deep breathing with imagery and a focus word or phrase that will support relaxation.
Lion’s breath is an energizing yoga breathing practice that is said to relieve tension in the chest and face.
It’s also known in yoga as Lion’s Pose or simhasana in Sanskrit.
How to do this:
- Your kids should be in a comfortable seated position. They can sit back on their heels or cross their legs.
- Instruct them to press their palms against their knees with their fingers spread wide.
- Instruct them to inhale deeply through their nose and open their eyes wide.
- At the same time, they should open their mouth wide and stick out their tongue, bringing the tip down toward their chin.
- They contract the muscles at the front of their throat as they exhale out through their mouth by making a long “ha” sound.
- They can turn their gaze to look at the space between their eyebrows or the tip of their nose.
- They should do this breath 2 to 3 times.
Pursed Lip Breathing
This simple breathing technique makes your kids slow down their pace of breathing by having them apply deliberate effort in each breath. Your children can practice pursed lips breathing at any time. It may be especially useful during activities such as bending, lifting, or stair climbing.
Practice using this breath 4 to 5 times a day when they begin in order to correctly learn the breathing pattern.
Your kids should:
- Relax their backs, neck and shoulders.
- Keep their mouth closed, inhale slowly through their nose for 2 counts.
- Pucker or purse their lips as though they were going to whistle.
- Exhale slowly by blowing air through their pursed lips for a count of 4
Importance of Breathing Exercises
Breathing Exercises are Natural Painkiller
When your kids deep breathe, their body releases endorphins, which are the ‘feel-good’ hormones and a natural pain killer created by the body itself. Also, it is therapeutic, strengthens the mind and reduces the pain they feel. As a result, the pains they feel subdues.
Breathing exercises increase the amount of oxygen in the body and increase the release of toxins with carbon-di-oxide. When oxygen in the cells and tissues increases, it makes children healthier and help them perform better. Therefore, healthier and proper functioning organs improve the immune system of the body.
Clean blood full of oxygen fights better against infectious bacteria and viruses. Likewise, improved breathing will also help in better absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body of your kids.
Increases Sleep Quality
A deep breathing exercise that entails complete exhalation of the air provides better sleep. Breathing detoxifies the body and signals to calm down. Therefore, a deep breathing exercise before bed can help even insomnia suffering kids.
Deep breathing helps in bringing heart rate to normal and increases oxygen levels. This helps in giving the brain the signal to unwind. Typically, regular deep breathing will help in balancing the hormones and releasing endorphins in the body of your kids.
Decreases Toxicity of the Body
Stress, bad eating habits, and shallow exhalation make the body system acidic. In contrast, deep breathing detoxifies the body system. Deep breathing also helps in releasing the lymph around the body and removes strain from the body of your kids.
Improves digestive system
Deep breathing exercises increase oxygen in the digestive organ of your kid and they perform better relieving from any gastrointestinal issues, constipation, indigestion, etc. Moreover, proper digestion keeps the body energetic and healthy.
Good for Cardiovascular Health
Breathing exercises will help strengthen the cardiovascular muscles and improve blood pressure in your kids. Regular deep breathing also decreases the chances of stroke. In addition, deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve which reduces the ‘fight or flight response.
Improve Concentration and Cognitive Properties CB
Regular breathing exercises can improve focus and concentration in your kids. It also improves memory and cognitive properties and brain functioning.
Gives Healthy and Glowing Skin
Breathing exercises increases the oxygen concentration in the cells of your kids, giving their skin a healthy and inner glow. Also, breathing exercises burn fat and help in balancing hormones in order to reduce stress and clear skin.
Reduces Inflammation in the Body
Sheetali pranayama is one such breathing exercise that helps in cooling the body system of your kids. It triggers a powerful evaporating cooling effect which brings down inflamed agitated emotions and decreases inflammation in the digestive system.
Makes the Body and Joints Strong
Breathing exercises increases the oxygen level in the cells and it affects the joints and muscles of your kids by making them stronger. It helps in reducing the strain of physical exercise and the chances of wearing the muscles down. Typically, your kids’ body’s ability to handle intense physical movement increases.
Certain dangerous habits can affect the lung of a kid. For example, a child who is exposed to parents who smoke can grow to have a lung infection. However, breathing exercise helps in increasing the air build up in the lungs and diaphragm. It increases lung elasticity which gives more breathing space for kids.
Take the time to experiment with the different types of breathing techniques with your kids. Dedicate a certain amount of time at least a few times per week, so that gradually, your kids will become used to these exercises.
Contact your doctor if your kids have any medical concerns. If you want to learn more about breathing practices you can consult a respiratory therapist or a yoga teacher who specializes in breathing practices. Your child should discontinue the practice if he experience any feelings of discomfort or agitation.