Volcano Breath

Breath work allows us to set an intention and align our body and mind.

The practice of mindfulness begins with noticing breath. Once you can sync breathing and movement, our physiology begins to shift.

A great breath to use starting out is Yoga Calm‘s  Volcano Breath. It is an upward arm movement synced to inhale, and a downward arm movement synced to an exhale.

Whether your site uses a Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting or you use another morning huddle/meeting routine, this is the perfect time of day to implement breath work. We end our morning meeting with a volcano breath. A proactive intervention to address tardies and absentee students is to take a breath for each missing student. Children will realize that they are a valued member of the community and are missed when they are absent.

Once you are comfortable with volcano breath, try adding in an intention. It can be an individual intention, but it can also be a class intention. Working on reading stamina? Have students visualize what it would feel like to get really into a book….so lost in a book that the rest of the room disappears and time stands still. Have them really step into this feeling. Then, breathe your volcano breath for love of reading. Guaranteed impact. Working on kindness? Visualize what it feels like make a new friend. Then, breathe your volcano breath for the love of friendship. You get the idea. What a great way to review learning targets for the day! Students are actively, physically, emotionally connecting to what it is you want to accomplish.

Another layer you can add is beginning or ending the breath by ringing the chime as students reflect on the intention. If your site allows essential oils, rubbing our Move Mindfully® Blend on hands before a volcano breath can help tap into the full sensory experience.

Students use breathing strategies during their morning routine.

Still skeptical? One of our reading interventionists approached me and said, “I was testing one of your students and in between books I told her she could take a little stretch break. She sat there, closed her eyes, and did five volcano breaths!” Students will begin realizing the power and strength they can find in their own breath. I challenge you to give it a try. It will change your students. It will change you.

For more ideas visit our Teachers Pay Teachers store to view our Intention Setting and Move Mindfully® Meeting resources.

Leave a comment below about your experience integrating breath work into a morning routine.

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Getting Started with Move Mindfully®

You want to bring Move Mindfully® to your school, but how do you start?

What is more intimidating; teaching mindful strategies to a class of 35 high school students or teaching mindful strategies to a room of 110 high school staff members?

Getting Started

I was far more intimidated to teach mindful strategies to high school staff. As an educator I have worn many hats including that of an elementary teacher, a school psychologist, a special education coordinator, a school board member and a coach. In each position I have watched educators tirelessly tear apart standards and infuse the latest ‘best practice’ into their teaching. What I haven’t seen are significant increases in test scores, consistent reductions in our achievement gaps, or more socially emotionally intact children leaving the educational system. Secondly, and equally important, I have watched educators put their own self-care aside. I have seen educators take mental health leaves, enroll in treatment programs, divorce, and move from a place of compassion to one of survival.

No matter how loud my amygdala was screaming, I believed that bringing mindfulness into the high school I worked at was important. I took a few deep belly breaths, replaced my amygdala’s blown cap, and responded to the second email, “Of course I would be willing to fit the two hours of mindfulness into the last two hours of our inservice week.”

Introductory Workshop

I reached out to 1000 Petals and scheduled a Move Mindfully® Workshop. I was acutely aware that in order to create buy-in, the two hours needed to be research based, had to stand firm on the backbone of brain science, had to be simple enough and adaptable enough to work across all settings, and needed to pull at the hearts of each educator.

After the workshop, staff were already asking for more Move Mindfully training. Over the next year I worked with a team of colleagues to capture the excitement and move us beyond awareness and into the depths of practice. In the upcoming blogs I will openly and honestly share some of the struggles and successes we encountered as a high school that had just begun embracing the possibility that teaching kids to live in the present moment could change children and change our lives in the process.

The 5 Tips to becoming a Move Mindfully® Champion

1. Surround yourself with good people

You can not do it alone. No matter how respected you are in your building, you must first build buy-in. My team consisted of a staff member from two additional secondary buildings in our district. One was a school counselor and one was a social worker. Along with a district level special education supervisor and a grant writer that also had a background in health.

2. Find something inspiring

It is important to believe in what you are sharing and to find the inspiration within. My inspiration began with Kathy Flaminio and carried into my everyday experiences working with staff members and students that were exhausted. I experience a lot of secondary trauma and at the end of each year I am angry and tired of the systems at play for children. This is not a good place to be and I was inspired by the idea that i could do something that helps my students, the staff, myself and my own family.

3. Take your time

>Implementing something new is a marathon and not a 5k. I have witnessed many well intended administrators move too quickly when implementing something new. Staff believe, and often rightfully so, that this new idea is yet another unthought out initiative that will be gone six months from now. Take your time to talk to people, to try some things on a small scale and to learn from others.

4. Find a funding source

This is important. I realize that funds can be tight. I started by writing a grant for private funding through a mental health agency. Later, we found additional funding from the county health department. Neither grant was for a lot of money, but enough to get us started and to get staff excited.

5. Discover your teacher leaders

Find your courageous leaders and begin planting seeds about what is coming up. The feedback they can provide about how practical something is and how kids and families may respond is priceless. Your teacher leaders will share and model new ideas, and when they find success, others will be willing to take the same risk.

Written By, Tanya Holub

Tanya has been an educator for 17 years. While serving as an elementary teacher she worked with student’s that came to school with various hurdles that made learning hard. This sparked her desire to continue her education and pursue a degree in School Psychology. As a school psychologist Tanya primarily worked at the secondary level and continued to work with students that had challenging behavior and social emotional needs. Two years ago she began working as a special education coordinator and brought mindfulness to her high school. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and family, coaching and serving her community as a school board member.