3 relaxing breathing exercises

By Amalie Lillienthal Bønding -

Do you recognize the following scenario: you have been running errands all day, maybe even all week and then suddenly, you realize that you have been holding your breath for quite some time.

This is not a scenario solely for adults. Research show that also children and young people experience stress symptoms in their everyday life. Let’s look at a normal day in the life of a child or a young person:

Waking up early and going to school. After school they go home and do their homework. Then they spend time on after school programmes or activities 2-5 times a week. Many will hang out with friends several times a week and be active on social media 24/7. On top of all these activities, they do chorus, spend time with their family and maybe do extra curricula activities at school. And those with divorced parents will also shuffle between their parents.

Did you lose your breath? We sure did!

Children react differently to stress

Children react different to living a busy life than adults, because they can’t control or turn the pace down like an adult can.

Depending on the child’s age, most of the child’s activities are often scheduled by the adults, therefore it’s the adult’s responsibility to regulate the number of activities and ensure that the child takes a break now and again.

In this blogpost we introduce 3 simple breathing exercises which all serves the same purpose: lowering your pulse and making you and your child feel calm and relaxed.

Use these breathing exercises to take small breaks during the week. You can even make the exercises a family activity and do one exercise a day. Maybe when everyone is home again after a long day or before you go to bed.

One of the benefits from these exercises is that they make you forget about your worries.

Our brain works in such a way that we can only focus at one thing at the time, so focusing on how to breathe in a specific manner makes it difficult to focus on all your plans the following day or what to make for dinner.

Also, taking deep breaths lowers your heart rate and it will make energy move slowly around in the body which is why the exercises have a relaxing effect.

  1. Circular breathing

In this exercise you breathe in through one nostril and out the other. You don’t think this is possible? Well, give it a try!

Find a soft spot to lie down or make yourself comfortable in a chair and then close your eyes.

Close your mouth, so you only breathe in and out through your nose. Start by breathing in and out through both nostrils twice.

(Breathe in through the nose. Breathe out through the nose. Breathe in through the nose. Breathe out through the nose)

Continue breathing slowly and picture the air travelling in through the left nostril and out through the right.

Actually, it’s not possible to only use one nostril when inhaling and exhaling, unless you close off the other one with a finger. But you should still picture the air circulating in your nostrils – in through one nostril and out through the other.

Switch direction after a while and picture the air coming in through the right nostril and out through the left. Continue inhaling and exhaling until you feel calm and relaxed.

  1. A ball inside your stomach

This exercise is suitable for younger children who might find picturing a circular breathing difficult.

In this one you must lie down. Imagine you are inflating a ball inside your stomach. Fill your stomach with as much air as possible, so it looks as if you have a ball inside.

Placing a book or a teddy bear on your stomach during the exercise might be helpful, because this makes it easier to notice when your stomach inflates and deflates.

When you have no more air to fill inside the ball within your stomach, then hold your breath for a couple of seconds before you exhale.

During your exhale picture yourself blowing out a bunch of birthday candles, because in order to blow out all the candles on a birthday cake you have to distribute the air.

Use the same technique in this exercise: don’t let all the air out at once, but exhale slowly and let the air out a little by little. Repeat the exercise 5-10 times in a row.

  1. Stop and smell the roses

This exercise is also suitable for younger children but a person of any age will benefit from it.

Do the exercise either sitting or lying down. Taking a deep breath is the same as how you draw in air when smelling something nice. This could be the scent of a lovely rose, the smell from a pizzeria or from inside a candy store.

When you smell something nice the odds are that you want to smell it again and again. By all means do it! The more you smell, the more relaxed you become.

Having some variation in this exercise is good such as taking turns choosing a scent to smell or start a conversation about each of your favorite scents.