Back Breathing and Emotional Support

These days, it feels like we could all use some emotional support. Back breathing is the perfect partner pose to help foster empathy and compassion for others.

 

To introduce back breathing, it is important to first feel it on your own. Start in child’s pose, resting hands on stacked fists. Practice breathing into the back, feeling the ribs expand to the ceiling. Inhale and exhale focusing on inflating the back. From this pose, it is almost impossible to breath into the chest or stomach.

 

In the classroom setting, I would recommend using this activity only after students have built community and trust. Since back breathing feels slightly more intimate than some other partner poses, try using back drawing first to become comfortable with appropriate touch.

 

During back breathing, the partner gently places open hands on the other’s back. I find it helpful to discuss appropriate pressure. Too light and the effect is lost. Too heavy and breathing feels restricted.

 

 

While the physical touch is an important component of back breathing, the act of synchronizing breath can have a tremendous impact on building positive relationships. That being said, I always make this activity optional. Students that do not wish to be touched can join a group and use a breathing ball to match breath. Also, back to back breathing is an option that offers a different type of touch that may seem more accessible.

 

 

Afterwards, have students switch roles so that they can experience giving and receiving. This is an excellent way to physically experience support. The idea of “supporting one another” can sometimes seem abstract to young children, so having a direct experience can go along way. You can experience support in an active posture like partner pull, but this is great way to experience support in a more passive, relaxed state.

 

As students become comfortable, there is also an opportunity to discuss anatomy. Move hands from low back, mid-back, and upper back with the directive to “breathe into the hands”. It is amazing how much surface area the lungs take up in the chest and how, with concentration, you can activate the breath in certain areas.

 

This is also an activity that I use at home with my young children as well. I love back breathing with my boys before bedtime. As I place my hands on my son’s lower back, we begin to sync long, slow breaths. I even will sometimes use verbals cues like, “inhale… exhale”. This strategy is a quick and effective way to connect non-verbally and slow down the body for sleep.

 

 

Have you tried back breathing? Would you use it in your classroom? Give it a try with a family member and let us know how it goes. Post a comment!

 

Be Well,

 

Stephanie Kennelly

Glitter Jars and Gratitude Breath

Think about a situation where it felt like it took every last ounce of your willpower to stay cool, calm and collected. As I write this, I have to admit that my moment just happened a couple hours ago when I just couldn’t handle it anymore…my kids seemed to be crying about e-ve-ry-thing! I tried to stay calm, but that calmness muscle in my body had been fatigued, and I lost my cool. I threw my son‚Äôs yet-to-be-eaten supper in the sink after he changed his mind twice about how he wanted it cut up, but then didn’t want it cut up. Let me just make it clear that I actually did throw it like a ball through the air into the sink. It felt really good at the time to be able to do that! However, my time with my kids is precious, I don’t want to waste it by being frustrated and impatient. I was able to recognize this quickly, and use some tools I have learned as a wellness professional and parent to make the best of this situation.

I stepped away and took a gratitude breath.

Here is how you do it:

Sit or stand up nice and tall through your spine. Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand over your belly button. Breathe in slowly through your nose and let the air travel through your chest and all the way down into your belly so that your bottom hand in gently pushed out by your belly.

Hold that breath for a second and then slowly release the breath so it takes slightly longer to breath it out than it did to breath it in. Continue this slow, deep breathing pattern for as long as you’d like. The hand that is on your heart reminds you to think of one thing that you feel grateful for at the moment. If it’s hard for you to come up with something, you can be grateful for a beating heart!

Consider using this exercise once per day at a point of transition and savor how it makes you feel‚ perhaps more settled and happy! Better yet, try it with your kids!

Another tool that helps inspire calm is a glitter jar (aka: calming jars, meditation jars, relaxation jars). I have used them with adult clients as well we with my own children.

When you shake the jars, they show an excellent illustration of how our mind, body and spirits can feel when life gets too chaotic and out of control. As we watch the glitter inside the jar, we begin to take calming deep breaths all the way down to a relaxed belly. As those breaths flow in and out, we watch the glitter begin to settle to the bottom of the jar. We notice the top of the jar beginning to become clear once again. We notice that our bodies are settling and our minds are becoming more clear. It takes a matter of two minutes to notice the shift from chaos and clutter to peace and clarity. These jars can be used by people of absolutely any age which is why I am sharing the recipe with you. You can give these as gifts to people to show your gratitude for them. A win-win for all!

Supplies needed:

  • Container of your choice with a tight fitting lid
  • Elmer’s clear glue
  • Water
  • Fine glitter

Step 1: Fill the container 20% full with glue. (use more glue if you’d like the glitter to settle more slowly)

Step 2: Fill the container to the 80% full level with very hot/slightly boiling water.

Step 3: Gently stir the water and glue together until they are blended evenly.

Step 4: Add 1 tsp. of fine glitter and slowly stir into the water and glue mixture. (1 tsp. works well in an 8 oz. container. Adjust according to container size)

Step 5: Add room temperature water until the container is almost full. Place cover on tightly, shake it up, and enjoy!

Hopefully these two examples, the gratitude breath and the calming jars, can be useful to you in the future to help you find find peace and calm. Each of us already has a toolbox of strengths, talents, support systems and techniques that we can have access to during difficult situations. Now, grab your tools, find your calm, and live on!

 

About the Author:

Brooke Campbell is a wellness coach, personal trainer and group exercise instructor. She believes in SAVORING experiences, living SIMPLY and SHINING with joy and abundance. Learn more at simplysavorandshine.com. She can be reached at brookecampbell23@gmail.com.

Readers,

We at 1000-Petals are featuring different writers on the blog. This week, Brooke Campbell is sharing her experiences as a wellness professional and mother. If you have a story to share, please email stephanie@1000-petals.com. Guest writers will be offered a discount on merchandise from our store. We hope to hear from you soon!

Educating heart, mind and body,
Stephanie Kennelly

 

Breathing Ball and Routine

People will often ask me, I want to implement Yoga Calm… but where do I start? At the center of our Yoga Calm implementation is the Hoberman Sphere . If nothing else, teaching students to breathe, and providing the Hoberman Sphere as a concrete visual, can be a game changer.

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

Step 1- Teacher Models
At the beginning of the year I started by modeling breathing with the Hoberman Sphere. Inhale open, exhale close, One. Inhale open, exhale close, Two. We say that you need 5-10 breaths to transition from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.

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

 


Step 3- The Chime
Next, we introduced 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.

Step 4- Glitter Jar
For awhile, we had these three roles. Then, I introduced my glitter jar. I described it as a metaphor for your body (or even for the classroom) when things are crazy and confusing and tense. A student made the observation of, “When you stop shaking the jar, its like ringing the chime! Can I shake the jar before the chime ringer does their job?” Sure. Now there were four!

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 raise their hand to offer a compliment for each breathing 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)

Step 6- Intentions
Whew. But there’s more. Recently a student said, “I would like to give an intention to the class after we breathe. Something that they can think about.” Sure! Most students use our intention wall as inspiration, but some have been creating their own lately. See this post  for more information on my wall and this post  for more information on writing an intention.

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

So, why did it grow? It grew because the students see value in the practice. They see value in taking two minutes for breathing. They see value in being involved in the community and being a leader.

The reason that this works is two fold. It is a daily routine that happens every day. It is a gift we give them. Time to slow down and feel the effects of breath. Also, it serves as a “as needed” intervention. The students will say, “We need to breathe” and request the routine.

I have attached a video  of the routine. 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”.

 

Have you used a breathing routine? How have your students responded? Leave a comment!
Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Ready to Learn and PLCs

Third graders are excitable people. As a teacher of young children, I find our days fly by as they are filled to the brim with curriculum, walking to lunch, the library, recess, specialists, etc., adapting to transitions from one subject to another within the classroom, and managing social issues that come up in a classroom of 28 different personalities. Sometimes the class just needs to stop, become quiet, and sit.

The third grade team at Capitol Hill Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota acknowledged to each other that our students needed time to pause during the school day before starting something new.  The students needed protected moments of quiet during the jam packed school day. As part of our Professional Learning Community (PLC), we decided to implement a strategy in all of the five third grade classrooms called “Ready to Learn”. Many of our students move from room to room and having the same strategy built into our classrooms would prove beneficial for all teachers. Eventually we taught the specialist teachers the strategy as well.

“Ready to Learn” was made up of three parts: Pause, Breathe, and Think about what‘s next. We felt this would provide students with techniques to self manage.

Ring a chime

Say “Ready to Learn” to the class

This was followed by the expectation to:

PAUSE
be still
close eyes or look at a focal point

BREATHE
Count to 4 as we breathe in, hold for a count of 4, count to 4 with slow breaths out (square breathing)
Close eyes or gaze at the floor while breathing

THINK
Activate your mind
Plan next steps

As a result of this practice, students will even do this on their own when needed. There is nothing like seeing an eight year old in the midst of classroom chaos stop, breathe, and refocus. I’ve seen it happen numerous times.

Teachers also gain great satisfaction and self care by taking the time to do “Ready to Learn” throughout the school day. We were able to center ourselves and improve our own teaching and learning along with the students.

Have you worked with a team or PLC on self-regulation techniques? What has worked well? Leave a comment!

Readers,

We at 1000-Petals are featuring different writers on the blog. This week, elementary teacher, Elizabeth Simmer is sharing her perspective. If you have a story to share, please email stephanie@1000-petals.com. Guest writers will be offered a discount on merchandise from our store. We hope to hear from you soon!

Educating heart, mind and body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Elizabeth Simmer is a third grade teacher at Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School in Saint Paul, MN. 1000-Petals has worked with many staff at Capitol Hill, including Elizabeth, and hosted a training for Mindful Leaders.

Elizabeth has worked for 20 years with Saint Paul Public Schools as a classroom teacher, intervention teacher, and curriculum coach. She enjoys yoga, writing, travel, and learning with her students every day. She can be reached at elizabeth.simmer@stpaul.k12.mn.us.

Safe Place Breathing and Calming Strategies

As a school counselor, I have many experiences with students dealing with angry feelings. Feeling anger, frustration, and nervousness is normal but as kids, teens, (and adults for that matter!) grow, it is important to learn what to do with all those uncomfortable feelings!

According to a recent article in Huffington post, stress is responsible for 90% of doctor visits in adults. Stress! And not being able to deal with it!

I love being able to teach kids about calming their bodies and reducing their uncomfortable feelings and stress. A couple years ago I found these active calming techniques from Conscious Discipline. This breathe work provides an easy and fun way to remember how to calm down. Also, I have found that these breathing strategies connect perfectly with the Yoga Calm curriculum.

I began by teaching this to a few individuals, but then decided to expand these tools to whole classes by teaching a lesson on it, adding more posters in classrooms, and “teaching” the strategies at a staff meeting to help the strategies become more universal language.

During our classroom lesson, a student who had been practicing these strategies already, took a leadership role in our lesson by helping to model and teach the class! He was able to have a positive light in the classroom and felt more comfortable choosing to use “drain” when his peers were doing the same. In this releasing breath, the “shhh” sound is similar to Yoga Calm’s active volcano.


Although the “pretzel” may be the trickiest, it also seems to be the favorite! Kids remember these years later! The cross-body is similar to Yoga Calm’s Eagle pose.

Plus, when it becomes the norm in a classroom to practice calming down before reacting or experiencing too intense of emotions, students begin to encourage each other!

Here is the “Balloon”. The releasing breath, with pursed lips, is similar to Yoga Calm’s pinwheel breathing.

   

And Star!

But still, for the kid who doesn’t like to draw attention or the times when it remaining calm needs to be done discretely, we learned simply to firmly pull on your chair seat and let go feeling the calm release in your fingers, body, and breathing.

   

     

A parent recently told me, “I love to hear this is being taught. As you know, this kind of practice is so critical but not easily learned through a parent. ‘He’ is resistant when it comes from my mouth. It’s so great that it is becoming part of education. It’s received so much better when it’s others telling him to breath through emotions.”

In the midst of testing and standards and making sure our students are “on target” and not falling behind, when you teach the whole child, you are truly giving a gift! Keep it up, dear educators! Small actions and habits are making big results for our kids!

What calming strategies work best for your students? Do you have a calming area in your classrooms or strategies that your students are encouraged to use? Leave a comment!

Readers,

We at 1000-Petals are featuring different writers on the blog. This week, school counselor, Kaylee Holzwart, is sharing her perspective. If you have a story to share, please email stephanie@1000-petals.com. Guest writers will be offered a discount on merchandise from our store. We hope to hear from you soon!

Educating heart, mind and body,
Stephanie Kennelly


Kaylee Holzwart: Co-Creator at in*SPIRE Habits & Professional School Counselor
We aim to support and empower educators to be their best
in order to serve at their best. Inspiring greatness, one habit at a time.
www.inspirehabits.com She can be reached at hello@inspirehabits.com.
Get more free resources, lessons, and tools here: www.inspirehabits.com/freeresources

Break and Breathe and Non-Verbal Cues

It’s been a “wonderful” winter break at home with my kids. Currently my 4 year old is melting down because she woke up too early from her nap and wants apple sauce. Not out of a cup, out of a pouch. I feel my blood pressure rising and my face getting red. I keep my breathing low, my voice remains steady, I say in a quiet voice, “you can have an applesauce cup or yogurt.” I do this while giving her our non-verbal for “break and breathe.” She does just that, stops, takes a deep belly breath and then makes a choice.

  
I have a BREATHE sign in the back of my classroom; a little tip from the ENVoY trainings that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this school year. Low breathing has entered itself into my life, my family, my classroom. It has made our mornings and too short nap times less chaotic. Explicit teaching of “break and breathe” has helped give my own kids and my classroom kids a coping tool for stressful situations.

Low breathing is when you breathe deep from your belly, your voice remains calm and fluid, and your heart rate remains steady. Often when we’re put into stressful situations our instinct is to go into fight or flight, which represents itself as high breathing. High breathing increases your heart rate, takes your voice high and choppy, and decreases your ability to think rationally about a situation.

Teaching students to break and breathe allows them to acknowledge their frustrations and anger, stop and then breathe before CHOOSING how to act. The break indicates stopping and surveying the situation; just a pause before blurting or moving to react. The breath is where the calmness comes; taking a deep belly breath and continuing on with low breathing helps you to continue to assess the situation and then choose how to handle it.

In my lesson  for “break and breathe”, we practice as a class. I set the kids up in partners and give them a situation to react to. The kids take turns practicing reacting to the situation in a quick reaction, high breathing way and then they do the situation again, this time with a “break and breathe” before they choose how to act.

We review our non-verbal cue to give each other as reminders when we notice tension is high. A simple hand gesture indicating a breath is effective and powerful. They then do a writing exercise where they process their feelings and draw a visual that represents “break and breathe.”

I am listening to my girls play “school” in the other room and I hear my 3 year old frustrated that she once again does not get to be the teacher. In a calm, quiet little voice I hear, “it’s okay Ev, just break and breathe.” I slowly peek in and the girls are taking belly breaths together.

Do you teach breathing strategies? What has worked for you? Leave a comment below!

Readers,

We at 1000-Petals are featuring different writers on the blog. We plan to provide a variety of perspectives on incorporating movement, mindfulness and yoga into instruction and parenting. If you have a story to share, please email stephanie@1000-petals.com. Guest writers will be offered a discount on merchandise from our store. We hope to hear from you soon!

Educating heart, mind and body,
Stephanie Kennelly


Amber Ringwelski teaches fourth and fifth graders in Coon Rapids, MN. She is also co-founder of In*SPIRE Habits, LLC and can be reached at hello@inspirehabits.com.

For your own copy of the full ‘break and breathe’ lesson plan, slides, situations, and worksheet, TEXT “MYLESSON” to 44222.

Pinwheel Breath and Engineering

I introduced pinwheel breathing  the first week of school, but I thought that this week would be a wonderful time to circle back and go deep. Coming off of fall break and going into Halloween week… there can be some anxious energy.

Pinwheel breathing is about a 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. I liked this connection and wanted to explore more…

I set out the week with a sense of purpose…wind energy! Like anything, once I set that intention, it began springing up all around me! Warning—- it’s a little pinwheel-tastic. Hopefully you can use at least one of these ideas to make pinwheel breathing connections.

1. Building Background

I first began 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.

2. Field Trips

Reading about wind is great… but I wanted students to experience the power of wind first hand!

We visited Dodge Nature’s electricity turbine and windmill water pump. We then went inside the schoolhouse and built circuits to power turbine models. Is there a wind turbine in your neighborhood?

 

     

Just as luck would have it, we also had a scheduled trip to the science museum….. and guess what we found there?

     looking

 

3. Engineering

I brought back all of our experiences to the classroom and let the students apply their knowledge. I provided an assortment of supplies and challenged them to build a device that could gain motion energy from their breath.

   

 

Finally, a program called Pinwheels for Peace  provides a lesson plan and pinwheel template for students to create their own pinwheel. I love this social emotional connection and it compliments the Yoga Calm curriculum. Bonus- students get to take home their very own, calm inspired, pinwheel!

Whew. I know. It’s a lot. I tried to warn you! I tied up this wind inspired package with a big bow of… breath. Your breath is your energy. Without it, you can’t move forward. Just like the pinwheel.

Please leave a comment on what you have tried with pinwheel breathing!
Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Pulse Count and Math Talk

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. It is a safe way to allow yourself to stop, and there is a non-threatening specific purpose- to count.

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “count to ten” when you are upset or angry. Well, 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.

I began teaching pulse count with a brief, third grade appropriate, overview of the heart and circulatory system. Then hooked them with…

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! Don’t believe me? Let’s try this-
Take a 30 second pulse count (see attached lesson plan). Record data.

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

Do 10 belly breaths (see attached lesson plan). Take a 30 second pulse count. Record data.

Just looking at the raw numbers- the kids were blown away at the results.
Here is a sample (40 beats, 86 beats, 36 beats)

The real power here is the power of recovery. Seeing that with ten belly breaths, the body is able to totally self-regulate from a point of almost maximum exertion.

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.

Okay, now the connection to all important the Common Core. You are thinking, “Stephanie, it’s Beats Per Minute… not 30 seconds. Why cut it short?” Enter- MATH TALK!

What is Math Talk? When students engage in meaningful math talk, they have the opportunity to increase their conceptual understanding and deepen mathematics content knowledge. When they can connect it to a real world experience, it is even more meaningful.[xyz-ihs snippet=”Line-break”]
How can the 30 second pulse count help you figure out Beats Per Minute? Without giving them any “hints” students worked through ideas together using the following sentence stems. (pulse-count-doc)

see attached student work samples)

Focusing on emotional tools for self regulation? Check. Supporting English Language Learners? Check. Creating meaningful connections to the common core? Check. What’s not to love?

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

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Woodchopper and Growth Mindset

Personal Development…In the 90’s we were “Awaking the Giant Within” during Tony Robbins infomercials. Through the 2000’s we cried with Oprah and the “Secret”. Today you are maybe diving down the rabbit hole of ClassDojo YouTube videos. Regardless, the conversation of personal development for children has come to the forefront of education.

Carol Dweck and her research on growth and fixed mindset is a TED TALK worth visiting.

To summarize the big ideas- the brain is a muscle that can continually grow and develop by taking on, and accomplishing, challenging tasks. Our school has even created a growth mindset bulletin board suggesting positive self talk to replace the negative fixed mindset self talk.

Dwek describes a growth mindset as “the power of yet”. You can’t do something… yet. But, you have the power to change. That power is inside of you. Hmm… this is beginning to sound familiar.

So, I asked myself- how does this related to Yoga Calm? I believe that if students are going to cognitively commit to intellectual growth (I can become a better reader) or social growth (I can become a better friend) they first need to commit to emotional growth (I can become a better person). So, what does this look like?

I have been teaching my students woodchopper (see attached lesson plan). Woodchopper is a releasing breath. I talked in my last post about volcano breath, which is a calming breath that takes in the good intention/heart thought. Woodchopper is a breathing exercise that allows students to let go of the negative. Like spring cleaning your closet- you can’t let in the new summery blouses and sandals without getting rid of some of the out dated boots and pilled sweaters.

We worked together to develop an anchor chart of things that we want to bring into our selves for self improvement and what we would have to let go of to create that space. Inhale the positive, exhale (huh) the negative.

Note: If you read the lesson plan you’ll see that woodchopper asks for students to make an audible HUH when they swing forward. Be forewarned- the first dozen times you ask students to do this, they will laugh and giggle. It is a funny, slightly uncomfortable, feeling that many of them have never let themselves express. 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.

I feel like this step is really “priming the pump” for the growth mindset. Bringing in what serves you and letting out what doesn’t- gets you emotionally prepared to do hard things.

 

Woodchopper anecdote: 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. Lawsiwesabre Furthermore, he had the ability to recognize his state and self regulate.

After breathing in the positive and releasing the negative, cue students back into mountain pose to reflect on a growth mindset. What does this look like in your life? Visualize and take in the YET.

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.

Please comment about your experiences with Growth Mindset!

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Volcano Breath and Morning Meeting

You may be thinking… okay Stephanie your classroom is super cute, but I haven’t been able to touch my toes since college! Yoga Calm does not apply to me. Well, I am here to tell you, that one of the core tools in Yoga Calm is teaching breathing, which anyone, regardless of physical fitness, can do. My favorite breath work is Volcano Breath (see attached lesson plan). Simply, it is an arm movement synced to breathing. I even use it at home. To start our family dinners, we each share one joy of the day and send it out with a volcano breath. Even my 18 month old participates, so littles can get in on the action too!

This year our school has focused on Responsive Classroom and adopted a 30 minute, uninterrupted, Morning Meeting block. Let me just say, this is a fabulous way to start the day. Greeting, sharing, activity, message… it all comes together in a synergy of feeling well and starting the day off right! If you are not using Morning Meeting, think of another time when everyone comes together as a group (calendar, huddle, etc.). This time of day is the perfect place to implement volcano breath.

We end our morning meeting with a volcano breath. This year, considering our attendance goal to cut down absentees and tardies, I am adding a volcano breath for each absent student. I have cued the class to put his or her image in their heart thought and send it out. Twice last week, the tardy student ended up arriving, which prompted comments like, “Our heart thoughts worked!”

Another way to utilize volcano breath is to set 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. Yes, some of you may be reading this thinking it sounds a bit too “new age-y” for your taste, but this group focus technique packs a bigger punch than simply writing your learning target on the white board. Students are actively, physically, emotionally connecting to what it is you want to accomplish.

Still skeptical? One final anecdotal victory lap for Yoga Calm. 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!” Drop the mic. Two weeks in and kids are already realizing the power and strength they can find in their own breath. This is what it is all about people. I challenge you to give it a try. It will change your students. It will change you.

Anyone can teach volcano breath and have rapid, impactful results. Include a heart thought or an intention to include an emotional response into the physical sensation.

Leave a comment below about your experience.