I like to start my yoga classes sometimes with breathing exercises and sometimes with warm-up yoga songs. Yet, at other times, I prefer combining simple kids’ yoga poses and breathing exercises. While focusing more on breathing, it also involves movement. If you observe your breath during these exercises, you will see how the body is moving in accordance with the breath.
Actually, there is a flow in these exercises, moving from one pose directly into the next. And this transition coordinates with your breathing. It is done specifically as you exhale or inhale. It gives you the feeling that your breath is moving your body. Therefore, it improves breathing while being aware. It works on creating mindfulness and improving the mind-body-breath connection.
Here are some breathing exercises (with movement / flow) for children to make them focus and warm-up at the very beginning of kids’ yoga classes:
1- Knee Hugging Breath:
Lying on your back, you may close your eyes. With your arms long over your head, take a deep breath in. And breathing out through your mouth with a “haa” sound, hug your knees into your chest. Again, extend your legs while breathing in with straight arms over your head.
2- 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.
3- 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.
4- 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. While practicing, you may place a fake pearl in front of each children depending on their ages.
5- Seated Cat – Cow Breathing:
Sitting on the floor, cross your legs. Rest your hands on your knees. Inhale, opening your chest towards the sky as you softly arch your back. Exhale, leaning your weight back and rounding your spine, bring your chin to chest.
6- Whale Breathing:
Lying on your back, bring the feet close to you bending both the knees. Place the arms on the floor besides you. Using the support of the arms and feet, take a deep breath in and raise the lower back high up towards the sky. The shoulders are firm on the floor. Then, slowly bring the entire body back to the floor while breathing out.
7- 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. A great way to open the upper back and chest.
You can repeat each flow 5-10 times. Short repetitions also create a meditative effect.
If you have a theme plan for your yoga class, you can choose a suitable combination of breathing and movement exercise. For example, oyster and whale breaths would be great for the Sea and Oceans Animals Yoga Theme!
If you do not have a plan for your kids’ yoga class, you may like to see the kids yoga stories with poses.