Woodchopper Breath

Sometimes we need calming breaths… and sometimes we need releasing breaths!

Sometimes mindful movement can have the stigma of “all calm all the time”. However, our mission centers on responding to the body where it is at… and sometimes it is not calm. When there is so much built up (tension, frustration, anxiety, anger) in the body, it must be released. Wood Chopper Breath from the Yoga Calm Curriculum is an excellent tool for students to “huh” it out it a controlled and safe manner.

Sometimes, these feelings can cause students to feel overwhelmed and demoralized. I also like to use Wood Chopper as a vehicle for creating positive self-talk and developing a Growth Mindset. Here is a visual of positive self-talk replacing the negative.

Growth Mindset bulletin board

As I began teaching Wood Chopper, I noticed that the first dozen times the students made the “huh” sound on the exhale, there was a lot of laughing and giggling. It is a funny, slightly uncomfortable, feeling that many have never expressed. One of my students even expressed it as, “It is like hitting someone in football, except you don’t have to hit anyone”. There is a real release happening and laughing can be an instinctual reaction to this emotion. Let’s face it…if we want to teach self-regulation when need to have the students practice going from 0-60 and 60-0.

Students use a releasing breath in classroom

Eventually, I had students lead our Wood Chopper breathing. We worked together to develop an anchor chart of things that we want to bring in and what we would have to let go of to create that space. Students could cue from the poster or come up with their own ideas. For example it may sound like, “Breathe in bravery (inhale), breathe out fear (huh)!”

Growth Mindset anchor chart

It was the end of the day, a time when craziness inside begins to stir, and two boys were rough-housing as they were stacking their chairs. I gave them the raised eye brows look and one caught my gaze and said, “I breathe in calm, I breathe out silly” as he did a woodchopper breath. He looked at me and smiled, knowing he was being somewhat cheeky… but the thing is—it worked. It calmed him down. Furthermore, he had the ability to recognize his state and self regulate.

Students use Yoga Calm Woodchopper Breath

Use woodchopper to emotionally prepare. Taking in the positive and releasing the negative is the first step in being able to develop a growth mindset. In knowing that you are not a fixed point in the universe. You are continually growing and changing and that ultimately, you are in control of that trajectory.

Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers Store for a lesson on using the idea of choice during a math lesson! Also, check out the Wood Chopper card from our 1000 Petals/Yoga Calm Card Deck.

Please leave a comment on how you have used Woodchopper!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Mountain and Line Basics

The body is the vessel for learning.

“Keep your hands to yourself!” If you work with children, you have probably uttered these words. Poking, pushing, budging, kicking… We’ve all been there.

Wherever you work, it is likely that students move through a communal space. In our school, we call it “line basics”. This week, mountain helped my students find their strength in line basics.

Start by describing what it means to be “grounded”. No, this doesn’t mean you are in trouble or time out… it means that you are present in your body. That you can feel gravity holding you to the ground. You are in total control of each and every movement. You are in your strength.

I taught mountain from a  standing position. Although the “traditional” mountain pose is taught standing, this idea can be experienced sitting on the floor, chair or even walking.

teacher demonstrates mountain yoga pose

After the lesson, we lined up at the door. I went down the line and gently pressed against each shoulder. Most of the bodies waved and tilted… some nearly falling over. With many bewildered faces looking at me, I reminded them about mountain. I went down the line again, pressing as I had, but this time, the bodies were solid. This, my friends, is what it means to stand in your power. (Download our Mountain lesson plan on Teachers Pay Teachers)

What does it look like to walk in mountain pose?

Imagine a ballerina or a taekwondo black belt walking down the hallway. They have presence. They exude confidence. My favorite cue is “walk like you have a crown on your head”.

In our school, with four classes, sometimes up to eight, moving through the hallway at the same time, being grounded and having body control is crucial for student safety.

student walk down the hallway in line basics

Go ahead. Teach mountain pose. You’ll notice that it will not only greatly benefit your students, but it will also have a huge impact on YOU! You’ll stand taller, move with purpose and ultimately have more confidence in your instruction.

Download Mountain from our 1000 Petals/Yoga Calm Card Deck and start teaching right away!

Please leave a comment on your experiences!

showing mountain pose


Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly