Take a moment and focus your mind on your breath. Where do you feel your body fill with air? Does your chest rise and fall? Does your stomach expand and contract? Are your breaths slow and deep or shallow and quick?
Breathing is essential to life and your breath is uniquely yours, just as your heartbeat and your thoughts are. Our breath reacts to our emotions by quickening when we are under stress and slowing when we are relaxed. While this is a reactionary process, you can also use your breath to help control your body's state.
First, let's discuss the anatomy of breathing. Air comes in through your nose and mouth, down past your larynx and trachea then fills your lungs. This process is triggered by the pushing and pulling of your diaphragm. You can think of this muscle as a belt that's attached to the balloons of your lungs. As the belt pulls down, your lungs expand and fill; as the belt pushes up, your lung shrink and expel the air.
For some of us, we may notice for our inhales that our chest is the area expands, while our stomach tucks in. This type of breathing constricts our lungs and mimics the type of breathing we do when our body is under stress. Our lungs are not able to hold as much air and we cannot use it efficiently. We may feel tired and have difficulty focusing.
For our children with fluency, voice and articulation challenges, proper breathing is particularly important. In addition, for our children with sensory needs, breathing exercises help form a foundation for body awareness.
On the fourth Friday of each month, I will dedicate my Friday videos to kid-friendly yoga practices. In order to establish a strong foundation, I would like you and your child to connect with your breath together. The video below, although I am not proud of the audio quality, gives some breathing exercises to try at home in preparation. I am continuing to explore new locations for our videos, so I apologize in advance for the background noise that polluted my sunny patch this week.