Seated Brain Breaks

Try the BREAK strategy for independent seated breaks!

Even with growing efforts toward more kinesthetic learning and mindful movement in classrooms, there are still times when sitting for extended periods is required. Think –  standardized testing. Young students may be expected to sit for up to 90 minutes for one test section. I’m getting antsy just thinking about it! We could all use a break!

When kids can’t just jump up and Go Noodle or strike a few favorite yoga poses, they can still take a break — a seated one, that is. Each letter of the B R E A K acronym offers a strategy for a seated body or brain break. So, empower your students by teaching them to take a BREAK whenever they feel the need.

B: Breathe

The great thing about breath work is that it can be practiced any time, any place with no equipment! Here are two to get you started.

  • Hand Tracing: Holding up one hand like a stop sign, use your pointer finger to slowly trace up your thumb as you breathe in, and slowly trace down your thumb as you breathe out. Continue to trace up and down each finger with your breath.
  • Centering Breathing: Place a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly. Breathe in and out and just let yourself be.

Five Finger Breathing

R: Release & Stretch

Having some go-to chair based movements can be the perfect reset during seat work.

  • Figure 4: Sitting in your chair, cross your ankle over your other leg. Sit up tall to feel the stretch or fold slightly forward.
  • Twist: Sit up tall and gently turn your upper body to one side. Breathe in and out for three to five breaths. Turn back to center and pause. Then gently turn to the other side. Breathe in and out for three to five breaths.
    Seated Twist

E: Escape

Sometimes a short mental vacation is all you need to reset. Here are two of my favorites from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum!

  • Happiness Recipe: Create a personalized trip in a boat. Along the way, students can see all of their favorite things.
  • Changing Channels: This activity is a great way to practice shifting attention going through various predetermined “channels”.Time for Rest

A: Activate & Relax

Having students know how to go through a progressive relaxation can be an amazing tool for your tool kit! Here is a script to get you started.

  • Thinking about your feet, squeeze the muscles in your feet (pause). Now release your feet. Now bring attention to your legs. Squeeze the muscles in your legs (pause). Now slowly release your legs. Breathe in and out slowly. Now bring attention to your hands and squeeze your hands (pause). Then release your hands. Still breathing slowly, shrug your shoulders towards your ears (pause). Then release your shoulders. Now bring attention to your eyes and squeeze your eyes (pause). Now slowly release your eyes and allow your whole body to rest.Mindfulness in Schools

K: Keep Self-Talk Positive

Students can be their own cheerleaders and keep self-talk set to encourage a growth mindset.

  • If you have any negative or discouraging thoughts, turn them down and around. Replace them with encouraging, loving words like these… I am calm and capable. I can do this. I am focused. I am trying my best.

Head on Desk

Here is to students no longer thinking, “Give me a break!” Not that they ever were…

Written By,

Jenny Wood

2 replies
  1. Abby Larson
    Abby Larson says:

    Thanks for the awesome post, Jenny. I love the BREAK acronym to use with students. I am definitely going to incorporate this into my classroom. I love that once students are trained in on the different strategies, they could self select what works well for them. I also will make these options at our calming station. Awesome!

  2. Jeanine A Long
    Jeanine A Long says:

    I love this! I wonder about creating a signal for children that don’t always recognize when a break is needed. Sometimes I am able to see the external signals before they notice them internally.


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