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.
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.
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)!”
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.
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 leave a comment on how you have used Woodchopper!