Today, I’d love to share a story with you that I think you might be able to relate to in some way.
Last week, my daughter had a math review page in front of her (we still have a week left of school). As I leaned over to help her, she began to have a total meltdown. She stood up on her chair, stomped her feet, started screaming, and said that she hated math.
After some time, the words tumbled out–she told me how they do testing at school. The students have to sit in silence, with partitions at each desk, and are not able to ask questions.
She sobbed, “I love being at home better because you help me.”
Here we are at home, and she was having strong memories of a particular moment at school from months prior. I talked to her about national testing and explained that all children in the United States go through it and that the teachers don’t get to decide on those rules.
But then we took a pause. I told her that she has one secret tool in her toolkit.
“What?” she said.
“Your breath,” I said.
I explained that she can stop and take a breath anytime she’s in a testing situation and is having thoughts like:
- Why do I have this partition here, even though we are old enough to know not to cheat?
- Why is it so silent right now, and we can’t we talk to our friends?
- How can I answer this question when I don’t understand it and can’t ask for help?
She can inhale deeply and exhale with the thought of “let go.” I told her that on an exhale, she could let go of all her worries, concerns, and frustrations.
Now, I’m fully aware that my child isn’t going to become some Zen master during her next test, but it’s about planting the seed. We need to have these conversations on a regular basis and remind each other how to use these calming techniques to self-regulate. This is a lifelong skill.
And guess what: we’ve heard from a lot of you that we, as grownups, are also experiencing enormous amounts of anxiety and stress right now. We are hearing concerns about:
- Preparing for school when we don’t know what it’s going to look like
- How to teach children who have “forgotten” all that they had learned before
- Coping with all these changes all at once
- Connecting with children while wearing masks standing six feet away
- Helping children with unstable home environments
- Dealing with all the uncertainties of the future
- Working from home while still trying to help with distance learning
- Teaching our children to be calm when we’re not calm ourselves
And the list goes on…
Together, let’s get back to the basics. The breath. If there is only one thing you take away from all the yoga and mindfulness resources out there, it’s really the simplest practice that is the most profound—our breath.
To get through this difficult time over the coming months of uncertainty, let’s make a concerted effort to notice and get curious about our breath. You might not have time or the desire to practice a daily meditation practice or do a yoga class, but throughout the day, we can take a pause to breathe well.
Start to notice when your breath is shallow and high up in your chest. Take notice when your heart is beating and your breath is short. Be deliberate in taking more deep breaths throughout the day to come to the present moment. Peace is truly in the present moment. Your anxiety and stress will wash away.
3 Breathing Exercises to Calm Anxiety and Stress
1. Practice Pause Breath to regroup and shift your mindset.
Stop what you’re doing and take a moment to pause. Place a hand on your chest, close your eyes if that’s comfortable, and take a few deep breaths. Feel the rise and fall of your hand on your chest. Do this deep belly breathing for a minute to help slow down your mind and body.
2. Practice Extended Exhale Breath to calm the nervous system.
Place both palms on your chest (or on your lap) and close your eyes, if that’s comfortable. Take a deep inhale for 3 to 5 counts. Then exhale slowly for 6 to 10 counts. Make your exhale twice as long as your inhale. Repeat for a few moments.
3. Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing to balance your energy.
Place your middle finger of your right hand on your forehead between your eyebrows (third eye center). Close your right nostril gently with your right thumb and inhale slowly through your left nostril. Pause at the top of your inhale and release your right thumb. Close your left nostril gently with your ring finger and exhale slowly through your right nostril. Pause at the bottom of your exhale then inhale through your right nostril. Pause at the top of the inhale, release your ring finger, close your right nostril with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat these steps at least four times.
The world has been through a lot over the last few months. Remind yourself that it’s okay not to be okay… and that things are going to be okay. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but things will be okay. And our breath is our anchor, for now and for always.
As always, please let us know how we can support you during this time. If you have any special requests, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Check Out Our Summer Yoga in 10 Minutes a Day – Standard
Help your children stay active and have fun this summer with our brand-new digital Summer Yoga in 10 Minutes a Day Packs.
You will get 8 weeks of ideas, plus all the resources you need to spark your imagination and get your kids moving, grooving, and having a blast!
You will receive specific activities for each day of the week, themed under:
- Mindful Mondays: to get grounded for the week ahead through breathing and meditation techniques that teach kids how to be in the present moment
- Storytime Tuesdays: to joyfully integrate literacy and movement through storytime read-alongs
- Wind-Down Wednesdays: to practice calming techniques that promote self-regulation and focus through age-appropriate mindfulness activities
- Theme Thursdays: to move, stretch, and challenge young bodies by practicing yoga poses based on fun and engaging themes
- Fun Fridays: to have fun and connect with one other through yoga games and partner yoga
Use these 10-minute activities as a springboard. Feel free to add other age-appropriate theme-related yoga poses, songs, breathing techniques, relaxation stories, meditations, art projects, and field trips.