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

Hand Tracing Breathing

Have you wondered, where is the best place to start when teaching mindfulness?

Breathing is the best place to begin a mindfulness practice. For children, especially in a school setting, we recommend hand tracing as an excellent option for an introductory breath. Many school settings use “Show Me 5” as an attention signal, so we find this strategy fits in easily to existing school cultures and routines.

Start by placing your dominant pointer finger at the bottom of the opposite thumb. Continue by drawing around the perimeter of the hand, inhaling on the way up the finger and exhaling on the way down. This is a quick and easy way to get in five breaths and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Better yet, switch hands and use your non-dominant hand as the tracer for an additional five breaths.

Hand tracing is incredibly effective for addressing anxiety.  This strategy allows students to get “out of their head” and into their body and the somatic input creates a calming influence. We sometimes even offer the affirmation, “I am right here” or “I feel my pointer finger press against my hand”.

It is empowering for students to know that this technique is always accessible. When the situation doesn’t allow you to lie down, close your eyes or use a tool, your hands are always available. Model discreetly hand tracing under a desk to demonstrate that five breaths can be taken anywhere at anytime. Find Hand Tracing Breathing featured on our Move Mindfully® Permission to Pause Posters.

 

 

We like to show the variation of tracing your hand on a table as well. This is especially useful during transitions when students need to arrive at a new space and is effective when combined with head on desk. At home, try before dinner or homework time.

 

 

 


 

 

Also, hand tracing on someone else’s back can be a great variation of back drawing or back breathing. Paraprofessionals love using this during high tension situations, like assemblies or tests. Also, try this strategy at home on your child or loved one before bedtime.

 

 

 

Hand tracing is the perfect entry point for mindfulness. Coworkers, parents and students  can start using this highly effective breathing strategy for self-regulation right away.

Have you tried hand tracing? When might you use this strategy? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

 

 

Belly Breathing

Belly Breathing is the foundational breath to teach children.

Using the Hoberman Sphere is the best way to visually understand the components of healthy breathing. We call this deep, slow and rhythmic breathing, Belly Breathing. This format, utilizing the Hoberman Sphere, a counter and compliments is found in the Yoga Calm® Curriculum.

Here is a step by step guide about implementing (and growing) a student led breathing routine.

Step 1- Teacher Models
To begin, start by modeling breathing with the Hoberman Sphere. Inhale open, exhale close, One. Inhale open, exhale close, Two. 5-10 breaths is what is needed to transition from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.

Step 2- Student Leaders
Then, a student steps into the role of the breathing leader and manipulates the sphere. Shortly thereafter, another student became the “counter”. The counter chooses the number of breaths (between 5-10) and also keeps count while the leader uses the sphere.

Counting Breaths
Step 3- The Chime
Next, we introduce the chime. A student rings the chime to begin the breathing routine. It takes about 20 seconds for the ring to stop, so it is a good way to settle into our bodies before the breathing ball begins.

Ringing a chime

Step 4- Glitter Jar
A great option to add in is the glitter jar. It serves as a metaphor for the body (or even for the classroom) when things are crazy, confusing and tense. A student made the observation of, “When you stop shaking the jar, its like ringing the chime! So, can I shake the jar before the chime ringer does her job?” The glitter jar serves as an extra visual (and leadership opportunity).

Shaking the glitter jar

Step 5- Compliments
As it happens mid year, many of our routines were needing a pick me up! That is when I introduced compliments. After the breathing routine, the class would offer a compliment for each leader. It not only served as a bucket filler, but also a good reminder of our purpose. Compliments like, “You spoke with a firm but calming voice” and “You stayed grounded the entire time” made all of us smile!

But… then one day a breathing leader said, “You know, we all get compliments, but what about the rest of the class? Can I give them a compliment?” Sure. So, after the leader received a compliment they turned around and gave a compliment to someone else! (incase you are keeping score, that is eight compliments)

So, in total… that is five breathing leaders. Remember though, this routine developed organically, mostly driven by the students, and started with me simply taking five breaths with the Hoberman Sphere.

This routine grew because the students see value in the practice. They see value in taking two minutes for breathing. There is value in being involved in a community. Students will value being a leader.

The reason that this works is two fold.

It is a daily routine that happens every. single. day. We gift this time to our students. It allows us to slow down and feel the effects of breath.

Second, it serves as a “as needed” intervention. The students will say, “We need to breathe” and request the routine. Think, after an assembly. Before a test. In the middle of a big project.

Deep breaths

Want to see the routine in action? Watch this video  for an example of what the routine looks like in a real classroom. It is 2 minutes and 22 seconds. It is about 1 minute of breathing and about 1 minute of compliments. This video was taken at the end of morning meeting right before physical education. The students were going to start roller blading… a very exciting time for our school! I was amazed that the nervous, excited energy from minutes before completely changed with the muscle memory of this routine. Note: One of my favorite parts of the video you can’t really hear. The compliment for the affirmation, “I trust myself” is, “I like how you chose ‘I trust myself’ because we are going rollerblading and it takes some balance and trust to do that”.

Counters and compliments

Have you used a breathing routine? How have your students responded? Leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Pinwheel Breath

What do you do when a student is stuck in a feeling of anxiety or anger?

The best thing you can do in this situation, is provide a strategy to regulate breathing and oxygenate the body. I always like to introduce pinwheel breath early in the school year. The pinwheel serves as a incentivizing tool. Watching the colors go around and around will memorize almost every user. The “toy” also makes this breath accessible because it seems a bit more lighthearted.

The Yoga Calm® Curriculum describes pinwheel breathing as a focus on the long steady exhale. It is a releasing breath that helps regulate the nervous system and calm anxieties. The pinwheel serves as a focal point, which increases focus and can be effective when used before testing or other activities that require intense concentration.

From a science perspective, you can visually experience the transfer of your energy (breath) to create motion energy (pinwheel). No breath, no energy. This idea integrates fabulously into science and engineering standards.

Here are some tips for integrating Pinwheel Breath into your science objectives.

1. Building Background

A great place to start is by building background about wind energy. Students wrestled with the real-world pros and cons that face our political and industrial leaders.

Next, I shared a real world example and read aloud the inspirational story of William Kamkwamba. William engineered a windmill to save his African village. See his Ted Talk  and read more about his biography. The picture book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is a great read aloud for all ages.

Reading a Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

2. Field Trips

If possible, take students outside to experience wind power first hand! We visited our local nature center to observe the electricity turbine and windmill water pump. We then went inside the schoolhouse and built circuits to power turbine models. How is wind energy utilized in your neighborhood?

Students visit wind turbine     Students participate in a wind experiment

3. Engineering

Once back in the classroom, have students use this Pinwheel Template to create their own pinwheel. Better yet, provide an assortment of supplies and allow open ended inquiry. Students can apply their knowledge to engineer a device that gains motion energy from wind energy

Students use STEM standards to create pinwheels

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students test the movement of a pinwheel      Students use classroom supplies to build a pinwheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, it all comes back to the social emotional work we do during mindful movement. Students are now invested into the pinwheel as a tool. They understand the importance of their breath. They have a strategy when the anger or anxiety bubbles back to the surface.

Boy relaxes by blowing a pinwheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you tried pinwheel breathing? Leave a comment with what you have tried!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Pulse Count

Do you have students fighting the calming breaths?

Sometimes, allowing yourself to be calm can be kind of scary. I have found that resistant students respond best to Pulse Count. Find the cuing language on the Pulse Count card from our Move Mindfully® Card Deck

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “count to ten” when you are upset or angry. This breathing tool takes that to the next level. Not only are you counting (probably past ten), but you are also getting in tune with your body. You are literally feeling your body. High heart rate in gym? Good. High heart rate during a test? Bad. But here’s the good news is YOU are in control of your heart beat!

I began teaching pulse count with an overview heart and circulatory system. Then hooked them with the following activity.

Pulse Count

Take a 30 second pulse count. Record data.

pulse count

Do 30 seconds of jumping jacks. Take a 30 second pulse count. Record Data.

jumping jacks

Do 10 belly breaths. Take a 30 second pulse count. Record data.

belly breathing

Just looking at the raw numbers- the kids were blown away at the results. The real power here is in the recovery. With ten belly breaths, the body is able to totally self-regulate from a point of maximum exertion.

Here is a data sample:

  • Starting- 40 beats
  • After Jumping Jacks- 86 beats
  • After Belly Breathing- 36 beats

To bring this activity into your math lesson, double the counts to find beats per minute. See the math lesson plan on our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Doubling numbers to find bpm

Later in the week I had a boy in tears on the verge of a panic attack. I told him, “Remember pulse count? You can recover. You have the power to control your body. Let’s do a pulse count together”. Getting him out of his head, counting, breathing and feeling in control, he was able to self-regulate within a minute. Almost seems magical.

Please leave a comment with ideas of how to connect Pulse Count to other science or math standards!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

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