Breathe Deeply: Relaxation Techniques for the Classroom
School days are busy days—there's lots to fit into those 7 to 8 hours you have with your students! Don't forget to remind your kids to take time to breathe.
It's easy to forget about the restorative benefits of deep breathing and other relaxation techniques, but when used at the right time in the right way, these practices can go a long way to creating a healthy, balanced atmosphere where there's room for learning, patience, kindness, and individual growth. And it’s not just your students who need to remember to breathe!
Think about your own day. Do you rush through every task, your mind several steps ahead looking forward to the next things? The next lesson, the next errand, the next meeting? It's exhausting, isn't it? We know that taking breaks from work and family to exercise, meditate, sit for a little while in nature, and enjoy a cup of tea are crucial to remaining healthy and happy. The better we take care of our brains, the better we can meet our obligations with a good attitude and capability. It's no different for kids!
A five-minute break for relaxation, meditation, or yoga can do wonders for a classroom of kids, whether they’re in kindergarten learning about letter sounds or in high school learning how to dissect a cow’s eyeball. Here are some tips for your classroom!
Deep breathing. This is an easy one that might seem obvious, but when kids are over-busy or stressed, the breath is the first sign that they’re having a meltdown. Simple ask your kids to breath in deeply, hold, hold, hold, breathe out slowly. Counting your breaths is another way to slow down your breathing. "In two, three, four… Out two, three, four…"
Yoga. You don’t need any special equipment or clothes to do this sport! Here are a few good yoga poses that kids can do to refocus and relax.
- Mountain pose: simply stand evenly on your feet with your back straight and your head held high. Don't ask little kids to hold this for too long--they might get antsy!
- Downward facing dog. Stand with your feet on the floor and place your hands on the floor away from your feet, so your body makes two sides of a triangle. See if you can get your legs straight!
- Pose of the child. Kneel and try to place your forehead on the floor in front of you, keeping your back rounded and your spine long.
- Tree pose. Stand on one leg and press your other foot against your knee. Balance with your palms held together in front of your chest or raised above your head.
Tensing toes. Have students lie on the floor or sit in a chair. Ask them to curl they toes toward their heads as tightly as they can, hold it for a count of five, and then release. Do this a few times and encourage them to recognize the feeling of tension and how different it is from the feeling of relaxation.
Meditate with a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that you say over and over again while breathing deeply. This focuses your mind and rests your body. Here are a few mantras kids might like to try. They can also simply make a noise, such as “Hummmmmmm.”
“All will be well.”
“I am thankful.”
“Let it go.”
Mini massages. Have your students spend a few minutes massaging their own hands and each individual finger. If it's allowed, they can take off their shoes and give themselves a foot rub as well. Show them how to massages using long, smooth strokes that will ease any tense muscles.