It’s 6:50pm and Tara is about to step on stage to present a speech to her peers and their parents. She’s 7. Confident and charismatic. She’s got this. But then tears appear. And a slight tremor. And her head is shaking no. “I don’t want to do this,” she says. Panic begins. Tears begin to roll. And her shaking becomes more vigorous. We make eye contact. “What’s your go to breath?” I say. Let’s do it together.
Slowly, we begin to breathe through Ninja Breath – a breath that increases the inhale and exhale count incrementally as she visualises the awesomeness of a Ninja. Almost instantly her body relaxes and the head shake subsides. After about 90 seconds she’s back, and walks onto the stage composed, feeling empowered and even a little excited.
Understanding the power and potency of your breath gives you immediate access to change how you feel, from the inside out. Tara has learned that inside of her lives Magic. Her breath.
It’s my Intention, Hope, Wish, Mission, that every child – from as young as possible – knows that inside of them lives this Magic.
Imagine if you were taught this when you were a kid.
All of your body’s functions, from digestion to creative thought, are influenced by the amount of oxygen you take in. As an infant, you knew instinctively how to take deep diaphragmatic breaths - just watch a baby breathe - but, as you matured, your breathing shallowed to a point where you use approx. 25% of your lung capacity to breathe, and it generally hovers around your chest.
We all know that there is a stress response, but do you know here is also a relaxation response, which calms the whole body, including the brain and all the organs.
This response leads to good health.
It is induced by consciously breathing.
Your breath is the only system in your body that you can consciously control. This is why it’s magical. When you cultivate conscious, longer inhales, you slowly increase the oxygen in your blood stream, which helps to alleviate a tired brain and body. The Relaxation Response kicks in. When you extend your exhales, you instantly begin to feel calmer. Similarly, when you take short sharp inhale and exhale bursts, your brain and body quickly re-oxygenate and you feel awake and energised.
Breathing has a direct impact on your mind, mood and energy levels. Conscious breathing helps you to tune in to your body’s own rhythm and give yourself exactly what you need. Tara was able to discern that Ninja breath was exactly what she needed at that pivotal moment.
What are your go to Breaths and how do you know what you need?
Specific breathing exercises either cultivate energy or calm you down. You can change your mood, the space, your energy in just a matter of moments. Teaching kids a range of breaths they can go to to support a mood or a moment builds resilience, is empowering and gives them healthy options as they navigate through life’s challenges.
Feeling lethargic or listless, grumpy or unfocussed, your go to could be Woodchopping, Hot or Bunny Breath. These breaths invigorate and energise.
Feeling anxious or angry, hyper or stressed, your go to could be Balloon Belly Breath or Count Down to Calm. These breaths will restore a sense of calm, and help you think before you react.
Feeling nervous, your go to could be Ninja or Rising Sun Breath with positive affirmations. These breaths will settle those butterflies, allow you to re-focus, feel calm and empowered.
It’s based on science, but it’s not rocket science. Gifting kids with this wisdom – that inside them lives a magical medicine – goes a long way in helping them to manage their moods, minds and manners and maintain mental health and wellbeing. And best part of all, no one needs to know they (or you) are doing it.
Tara had access to this wisdom. She had the tools.
So can every child.
Beth Borowsky is the CEO and Founder of The Karma Class. An Educator and Yoga Teacher, she is committed to training school teachers to easily weave the gifts of Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness into every day, creating calm classroom climates with healthy and vibrant students and teachers.