SNOWga Sneak Peek: Hot Chocolate Breathing Exercise
For those that have already signed up for January SNOWGA, I can’t wait to see you in just a few days! For those that haven’t yet registered, here’s a little sneak peek of one of the breathing exercises we will be practicing:
“Hot Chocolate Breathing”
What it is: This is a simple exercise related to something that many kids have experienced before…waiting for a mug of hot chocolate to cool. You can practice this using imaginary hot chocolate OR practice with a real hot drink (with adult supervision, of course…no burning tongues!).
What to say: Let’s pretend that we’ve just come inside after playing in the snow, and we are FREEZING! So let’s make some imaginary hot chocolate. We’ll mix the cocoa and hot milk in our favorite mug. Let’s pretend to feel the warm mug in our hands and imagine steam rising from the top. It’s probably too hot to drink, right? So let's blow on it to cool it down. With our mouths closed, let’s breathe in until we have slowly filled our bellies with air. Now let’s hold the breath for a moment before we gently blow out the air on top of the liquid to cool down our drink. Let’s do this three more times until our hot chocolate is cool. Then we can take a big SLURP!
Why it’s helpful: This exercise teaches children “belly breathing” which is incredibly calming and focusing. Often when children and adults get excited, nervous, or upset, we engage in shallow breathing that only makes us more and more stimulated and anxious. But belly breathing actually triggers a natural relaxation response that slows us down in order to make better decisions, focus our minds, and relax our bodies. Practicing this technique through a game like “hot chocolate breathing” helps kids learn this technique in a more relaxed state. Once they have the feel of this breath and are comfortable doing it on their own, they can then apply it in times of anxiety. This game is basically a way to practice for the stressful times (which will inevitably come) when the breath will be useful.
Yoga & Story Time classes always feature a story, movement, games AND breathing exercises. Teaching children to create calm, focus, and relaxation within themselves is one of the greatest gifts adults can offer...and it's important that we model that for children as well. So I hope you'll share the "Hot Chocolate Breathing" with the children in your life AND practice it yourself when you need a little bit of calm too!