Can mindfulness be taught to children? Absolutely. And the best way to introduce kids to this practice is through means they understand, learn from and remember best: some kind of a fun activity, like movement, visualisation and games.
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Here, we’ll focus on the Hoberman sphere. This geodesic dome folds and unfolds easily, with the expansion and reduction movements resemble the way air fills and leaves our lungs.
Pick whatever size, colour and other attributes (like glowing in the dark) will elicit the most curiosity and delight from you kids.
Let’s see how you can introduce the breath ball to them, along with the general idea of mindfulness.
You can start out by asking the kids to guess what you’re doing, place your hand on your belly and make a show of inhaling through your nose and exhaling through the mouth. They’ll easily crack this pantomime.
Then, state the purpose of your little gathering: Tell the little ones they’re going to master their breathing and open up their minds and bodies so that they can do their best in their daily activities.
Time for showcasing the breath ball and the naming ceremony. Maybe you’ll agree to settle on just breath ball, or the more sci-fi breath orb, or the fairy-tale like mindfulness sphere.
Finally, find below the five breathing ball practices.
#1. The basics. Make a circle. As the teacher, you’re the first to hold the ball. Hold it with both hands against your belly. As you breathe in, slowly, let the ball expand. Pause slightly at the top of the breath and hold the expanded breath ball for a little bit. The, slowly, exhale and let the ball collapse in the process.
Some tips: breathe audibly so that the kids can catch on and keep up with the inhale-exhale pattern. Also, it would be a good idea to count along at all the breathing “stages,” for instance, one-two-three for breathing in, one-two-three-four for holding your breath, and one-two-three-four-five for breathing out. Repeat this cycle for about three times and let the kids lead the group with this synchronized breathing exercise, one-by-one. You’ll probably notice how everyone’s breathing patterns are different, so discuss it as well: someone’s breathing slower, more shallow or deeper, etc.
Take just a few minutes out of each day to bring yourself to a state of calm and wellness and balance your life using a combination of guided meditations and mindfulness techniques. The techniques are a simple, practical relaxation method for anyone.
#2. Connecting through breathing. Once the group breathing stage is conquered, ask the kiddies to split into pairs (either sitting or standing) and give each pair a breath ball, with each participant holding a square on the opposite side of the ball. Ask them to coordinate their breathing so that they move the sphere together. They can count together, or try to coordinate their breathing in silence. Through this simple exercise, you’ll teach the kids the sense of community, kindness and being in tune with each other.
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#3. Play a name game. This is how you can help the kids (and yourself) learn each other’s names faster: turn to someone you already know, call them by their name and let them respond using your name as well. “Kate, can I give you the Breath Orb?” - “Sure, Alice, please pass me the Breathing Orb”. Let the kid perform the breathing exercise three times and pass the breath ball to someone else in the group and exchange names.
So, there you have it, a fun and light introduction to mindfulness!
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