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5 yogic breaths to keep your family calm and in control

Have you ever instructed a tantruming child to calm down? Or maybe you can see your child is on the edge of a break down it but don’t have any strategies up your sleeve to help them self-regulate?

Possibly you’ve even noticed this yourself: you know you’re on the brink of losing your temper but don’t know how to bring back your calm.

In yoga – it’s all about the breath. Our breath is the only autonomous bodily function (one which happens all on its own) that we can control – just think, we can’t control whether we digest our lunch or stop our blood pumping. The breath is the key to helping us regulate and stay calm. But how to use it? You may well have asked a child to take a deep breath to help them calm themselves. However, when we are already worked up, taking a deep breath doesn’t always help. To maximise our breath super powers, we need to practise them when we are calm.

Children’s yoga classes always include some breath work – it is really powerful to practice breath control after we have moved our bodies. But you can also teach breath control easily at home (or anywhere else for that matter), at any time of the day.

Here are a few simple breaths you can teach your child today. Once they’ve mastered them, practice them regularly, perhaps before bed or first thing in the morning. You can then use these breaths whenever you notice signs that your child is feeling anxious, angry or even a little run down. For your child, watching you use these breaths during your day, is really powerful. So try to use the breaths yourself and speak to your little one about it.

1. Humming Bee Breath

This is a lovely breath to help calm down the nervous system.

Take a deep inhale through the nose and then make a humming sound as you exhale. Try to make the exhale as long as possible.

To make this more fun for little ones they can put their fingers in their ears which makes a really nice vibration buzz in their heads.


2. Pyramid Breath

This is a great breath to use as nobody can see you doing it.

Simply start by breathing in for one count, and out for one count, then in for two, out for two etc.

I tend to go up to five with children and then you can work your way back down. By the end of the cycle children usually feel calm and in control.


3. Alternate Nostril Breath

Although this breath takes a little getting used to it’s incredibly calming to the nervous system. Try to practise this one a few times before deciding whether it’s right for you as once you adjust to it, it is really powerful. This is many yogi’s favourite breath!

Start by closing the right nostril and inhale through the left, then close the left and exhale right, inhale right and then exhale left.

Continue the pattern making sure you finish with an exhale left to complete the loop.

Try five rounds to start with.


4. Simply counting the breath

Simple yet powerful, counting your breath is a fantastic tool as you can ensure your exhale is longer than your inhale (which is calming) and it can be down anywhere.

If you (or your child) are feeling anxious, you might only be able to inhale for one and exhale for two initially but then you can extend your counts as you calm down.

Aim in inhale five and exhale seven (but in all honesty, whatever numbers work for you are the best ones as you’ll come back to it more often).

Try to breathe through the nose for this breath.


5. Woodchopper Breath

Finally, I’m including this super energising breath which is a great one early in the morning or for that mid-afternoon slump!

Take a deep inhale through the nose and let it out quickly with a “ha” sound. Bonus points for making a wood chop with your arms at the same time!

Lift your arm as you inhale and then chop it down in a karate chop with you exhale.


It is important to note that children should take the lead when controlling their breaths and should never control their breath in a way which feels uncomfortable.

Many adult yogis also enjoy breath holds between the breaths and while holding the breath in. This is not recommended for little yogis so try not to focus on the pause – if they do this naturally it’s fine but breath holding should not be encouraged. If a child struggles with anxiety is especially important to avoid breath holding, as this restriction can actually make a child (or adult) feel more anxious.

I’d love to hear how you get on with introducing breath work to your family, so please do get in touch to share your stories with me. If you’ve felt inspired by this article, I have lots of free resources to help parents and teachers share mindfulness and yoga with kids, so please take a look on my website for everything you need to get started.


About the author:

Victoria Tso is a specialist children’s yoga teacher, experienced classroom teacher and founder of The Inner Child Yoga School. It’s her mission to share the benefits of yoga with all children. She has online programmes for children and schools and a variety of free resources to help parents and teachers share yoga and mindfulness with children. Find all the resources and more information on or get in touch on social media @inner_child_yoga_school.⭐


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