Both of this weeks breathing exercises aim to introduce your child to more of a yoga breath. One that is purposeful, deep, and complete. Choo-choo breaths are appropriate for toddlers and 3-6 year olds, while Darth Vader breaths are more appropriate for the older child.
Sit on the floor in staff pose. Extend your legs in front of you, feet together, and sit up with a tall spine, pulling in your belly. Hold your arms out in front of you, palms face in, above your legs. As you begin breathing, take a deep inhale that inflates your chest and belly. Make several small exhaling puffs with a "ch" sound in front. It naturally sounds like a little "choo-choo" noise when put together. As you breathe, move hands in small circles, keeping palms face in, like the steel bars rotating over a trains moving wheels. Add in some movement with the legs, bending the knees up and down to the rhythm of your breaths.
Darth Vader Breaths
Sit in a comfortable position on the floor. Lengthen your spine and pull in your belly. Either hold a hand held mirror or bring a hand up in front of your face. Take a deep inhale through the nose that inflates your chest and belly. Exhale through the mouth to fog up the mirror or pretend to "fog up" your hand, making a sound like Darth Vader's breath. The back of the throat closes slightly to create this sound and introduces your child to the throat restriction needed for deep yoga breathing, particularly used in pranayama.
You can easily use these breathing exercises before another yoga game or activity. Encourage your child to use the same breaths when holding a yoga pose. Or outside of yoga, encourage the use of these breaths to channel sad or angry emotions.
End your yoga practice by bringing hands together at heart center and saying this affirmation together,
"When I breathe my body is calm. I can feel peace come into me."