'Breath is the king of the mind' B.K.S. Iyengar
Pranayama for and with kids aims to provide a quiet place inside and to release tension and is a calming and fun way to safely promote and establish breath awareness in little Yogis.
Caution: Never exercise breath retention with children, only continuous breathing.
Once you are ready and comfortably positioned standing or seated, with a straight back, try out the following:
HONEY BEE BREATH
Direct the kids to take a deep inhale and on the exhale to mimic the sound of a honey bee. Try different intensities, from soft and quiet to louder, and take a pause with regular breathing rounds. The experience might be more intense with closed eyes and blocked ears.
Ask how it feels, talk about the experience. Explore further with placing a hand on the throat, the heart and then the belly.
FOG THE MIRROR
Another nice way to explore Pranayama is to 'fog the mirror'.
After a deep inhale, raise one hand in front of the mouth and pretend that your palm is a mirror. Evenly 'fog' the mirror with a long exhale, repeat a few rounds, take a break in between to talk how this way of breathing feels.
The last round can be done with a closed mouth. This is a great first step towards introducing Ocean Breath or Ujjayi Breath.
Combine breath and movement
In a standing position with the knees a bit wider apart, pretend to use your hands to cut wood:
With the hands over the head and the palms together, take a deep inhale. On the exhale keep your arms straight and bend forward, make a sharp 'ha' sound and let the arms swing between the legs. Take a few rounds of chopping imaginary wood, it's great fun and instantly releases tension!
THE MAGIC 8
With the legs a bit wider apart, stand firmly on the ground.
On an exhale, slowly bend forward. With both arms, start to form the shape of an eight while lightly moving the torso and with guidance of the hands. Keep even breaths. Revolve the endless eight after a few rounds on one side, repeat.
This is a great exercise to boost concentration and is especially recommended for kids before they sit down for studies or homework.
Have fun exploring Pranayama for kids, and stay tuned for our upcoming WEEKLY GOOD VIBES posting that explores a few Pranayama techniques suited for teens!