30 Mindful Breathing Exercises for Kids

It is important to become aware of the breath. By directing our attention to our breath, we are paying attention to that moment, that is now. Our breath is with us all our lives. We can observe many things by feeling it. Whether we are tense, calm, or worried… When we observe the movement of our breath, we begin to become aware of our inner world and the moment we are in.

During times of tension, such as before a test or a difficult interview, practicing breathing can help. Focusing on your breath has a calming effect, even in the tensest moments. In fact, paying attention to the breath helps both children and adults. Consciously taking a few breaths can prevent sudden reactions. In short, breathing on purpose can be one of the most helpful ways to get back in control of any situation.

That’s why I’ve brought together breathing exercises that I’ve used in my kid’s yoga classes so far and that kids love too. All you need is your breath. And remember that your breath is always with you!

1- Bear Hugging a Tree Breath:

Standing with the feet hip distance apart, open your arms wide and breathe in. Breathing out, bend your knees and cross your arms over and grab your shoulders, one arm on top of the other – as if hugging the stump of a tree. Remember to bring your other arm on top with each breath.

2- Bee Breath:

Sitting comfortably, close your eyes and ears with your fingers. Take a deep breath in through your nose and breathe out making a humming sound of the bee which is smooth and pleasant. Keep the eyes closed and remain in silence paying attention to the sound echoing deep within. It helps to keep the mind calm.

3- Belly Breath:

Place your hands on your tummy and imagine that you have a balloon inside your stomach. As you breathe in, fill the balloon with breath. As you breathe out, deflate the balloon.

4- Bunny Breath:

Sit up tall and take three quick sniffs in through your nose like you are sniffing around for carrots, and one long exhale out through your mouth or nose. Bunny breath gives you energy.

5- Cactus Arms Breathing:

Sitting or standing tall, bring your hands to the sides at shoulder level with the elbows bent. Inhale while here. Exhale while bringing the elbows in front closing the arms and placing the forearms together. It has a meditative effect while opening the upper back and chest.

6- Candle Breath:

Sitting up nice and tall, you may close your eyes. Imagine a candle in front of you. Take a deep breath in. As you breathe out, blow the air out of your mouth in such a way that you make the candle flicker but not blow it out. This has to be really slow and gentle breathing. Imagine the flame of the candle moving in and out with each breath you take. Are you feeling calm and peaceful now?

7- Cookie / Hot Cocoa Breathing:

This breathing technique aims to teach deep breathing. Pretend that you are holding a hot cookie or a cocoa in your hands. You want to eat or drink it as soon as possible, but it is still too hot. To cool it down a bit, take a deep breath in. And blow on it with a long breath out. This long breathing can help your mind and body calm down.

8- Deep Sighing Breath:

The point of deep sighing is to calm your nerves enough so you can think more clearly. It helps the brain restore rational thinking, so you don’t end up doing something that will be more harmful than helpful. Crossing your legs, sit up tall. Inhale deeply through your nose. Fill your lungs with as much air as it can hold but be careful not to strain yourself. As you inhale, you may notice your chest and belly expand outwards. Exhale out through your mouth. Let the air out in one big, sigh. Exhale until you feel all the air has left your lungs. Repeat this cycle several times until you feel calmer and can think more clearly.

9- Dragon Breath:

Criss cross your fingers underneath your chin and bring your elbows together. Take a deep breath in and lift your elbows up like dragon wings by ears. As you breathe out, tilt your head back and let your elbows come back down while bringing fire out through your mouth. This breathing practise releases tension and calms you down.

10- Energizing Sun Breath:

Standing tall, inhale and raise your arms up above your head. And with three count of exhale of “ha” sound through your mouth, lower your arms down by your sides. Remember to lower your arms down in three parts. It is an energizing breathing technique.

11- Explosion Breath:

Start in a standing position. Breathe in as you crouch down. And then jump up, spreading your arms and legs as you breathe out.

12- Feeling & Sounding Breath:

Sitting tall and crossing your legs, place your hands on your ribcage. Inhale, feel your ribcage move and expand. Exhale, feel your ribcage close. Repeat this breathing exercise a few times. Then, cover your ears with your hands so you can hear nothing. You may close your eyes, as well to better focus. Inhale and exhale through your nose. Relax as you listen to the sound of your breath. Repeat sounding breath a few times. These breathing activities unites the mind, body, and breath and increases breath awareness.

13- Five Finger Breathing:

Hold one hand in front of you, fingers spread. Now, slowly trace the outside of your hand with the index finger on your other hand. Breathe in when you trace up a finger, and out when you trace down.

14- Flower Breath:

Sitting up nice and tall, your head rises up towards the ceiling. Bring both of your hands to your chest, touching your thumbs, pinky fingers, and the base of your palms (lotus mudra). Your fingers face up towards the ceiling, allowing them to open like a blossoming flower. Your hands are now your flower. Take a deep breath in through your nose at the center of your flower. Your flower smells so beautifully that you breathe out of your mouth making a sigh. Now repeat this for more times.

15- Fogging Glass Breathing:

Sit up tall with your legs crossed. Holding your hands in front of you, imagine that it is a mirror. Take a deep breath in. And breathe out through your mouth, trying to fog up the glass. Do you feel the warmth in your hands?

16- Four Breaths with Fingers:

You will breathe in and out while tapping your other four fingers with your thumb. It does not matter whether you begin with your left or right hand. Let’s begin… With your thumb, touch the top of your pinky finger and breathe in. Move the same thumb to touch the top of your ring finger and breathe out. Move the same thumb to touch the top of your middle finger and breathe in. Finally, move your thumb to touch the top of your index finger and breathe out. Now, you may continue with your other hand.

17- Heart Breathing:

Thumbs touching each other facing down, bend the other fingers to form a heart shape. As you breathe in, move your arms away from your body. As you exhale, bring your hands closer to your heart.

18- Lion Breath:

Kneeling up, hands wide, inhale and then exhale with an haaaa letting the tongue drop down and the eyes open wide. Let everything release with this roar.

19- Magnet Breathing:

Crossing your legs, sit up tall and bring your hands together in front of your chest. Breathe in while separating your hands and pulling them apart. As you breathe out, slowly bring your hands back to heart center. Repeat it a few more times until you feel more focused.

20- Mountain Breathing:

Draw a picture of a mountain on a sheet of paper. Trace the mountain with your finger. As your finger slowly traces up one side, take a deep breath in. Breathe out while your finger traces down the other side. Try tracing the mountain a few times.

21- Ocean Breath:

Sit in a comfortable position and rest your hands on your knees. Slowly start deepening your breath. Take a deep breath in through your nose and breathe out by opening your mouth with gentle “haaaa” sound. Try to extend your inhales and exhales. The sound is like the reminiscent of waves crashing up on an ocean shore. It helps reduce stress and anxiety in the body by calming the parasympathetic nervous system.

22- Owl Breathing:

Standing up tall on your knees, breathe in and raise your arms spreading your wings wide and long. Keep your palms downward facing. Breathe out and gently move your wings down to your sides.

23- Oyster Breathing:

From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together. Sitting tall, breathe in. Folding forward, breathe out. Your head should hang down toward your heels.

24- Pinwheel Breathing:

With a pinwheel held in front of the face, take a deep, slow breath in. Then, slowly release the breath out through your mouth by blowing the pinwheel. And repeat. You can also use paper napkins instead of pinwheels. After long and deep breaths, you may feel calm, relaxed.

25- Rainbow Breath:

Crossing your legs, sit up tall and place your hands on the knees. Inhale and raise the head up and bring the chest out feeling the stretch at the neck and the chest. Exhale, sink the chest in, pulling in the tummy. Move the lower spine backwards rounding the shoulder blades and tightening the core. Repeat this inhalation and exhalation watching the movement of the spine and the chest in a flow. This smooth flow of the breath and the upper body keeps the spinal nerves fit and healthy. When you get used to making this flow in harmony with your breath, you can gently close your eyes and imagine yourself like a rainbow. Breathe in your favorite color. As you breathe out, let this color surround you.

26- Square Breathing:

Draw a square on a sheet of paper. Inhale, tracing one edge of the square with your finger. As you exhale, trace the second edge of the square with your finger. As you breathe in again, trace the third edge with your finger. Breathe out while tracing the last edge with your finger. Since the four sides of the square are equal, it teaches breathing in equal time.

27- Star Breathing:

Draw a star on a sheet of paper. Since a star shape is symmetrical, it is useful to focus on inhalation and exhalation. Place your finger at one of the points, and inhale while tracing your finger towards the core of the star and exhale while tracing your finger outwards. Proceed slowly along the star.

28- Tiptoe Breathing:

Standing tall in Mountain pose, bring your hands together in front of your chest. Inhale and come high onto your tiptoes. Exhale and bring your heels back down.

29- Volcano Breath:

This breathing exercise is to release some tension and explode your breaths out of your body. Either standing tall or sitting on a chair, pretend like you are breathing like a volcano. Bring your hands together in front of your chest, take a big breathe in and raise your arms up above your head palms together. Breathe out through your mouth and move your arms down to your side.

30- Woodchopper Breathing:

Standing tall and legs wider than hip distance apart, clasp your palms interlocking the fingers with an imaginary axe. Lift your arms above the head while breathing in. Exhale, taking the arms down and bending forward. Breathing out, make the sound “ha” as you chop the wood.

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