This article includes FREE printables and resources for Educators.
School can be a pretty significant stressor, for both students and teachers!
One way of coping with this stress is through various mindfulness practices, specifically breathing and movement. Incorporating breathing and movement practices into your classroom routine can help you and your students release tension, alleviate stress and anxiety, and improve focus and concentration. Physically, these practices can lead to improved posture, flexibility, and balance, while increasing strength and cardiovascular health.
And don’t think the process of establishing a breathing and movement practice has to be complicated. Simple movement breaks and breathing exercises will have a huge impact on your classroom. Bringing these practices into your classroom is a quick and easy way to create a classroom community with a controlled energy level.
These practices are great resources to help students feel connected to you, one another, and their own emotions and energy.
When your students are stressed, they can use their breath to stay level headed and to help change their mood. Watch this video and share it with your students to start learning about the benefits of a regular breathing practice.
Incorporating a breathing and mindful movement into the classroom and routine can help students alleviate stress and anxiety, and improve students’ focus and concentration. Here’s some additional benefits of bringing movement into the classroom:
• Breathing and mindful movement and stretching can help release tension and anger.
• Mindful movement helps reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and gives feelings of being more content.
• Deep breathing and mindful movement can inhibit the amygdala, that part of the brain that oversees emotional responses of fear, stress, and anger. This increases in students’ ability to regulate stress and other negative emotions.
• Studies suggest that mindful movement can protect the function of the hippocampus, leading to improved memory and information processing.
• In addition to reducing stress while improving focus and concentration, this type of movement can lead to an improved body image.
While the breathing exercises, movement, and stretching might vary slightly depending on the age group, here are some ways to get students moving in the classroom:
1. BALLOON BREATHING EXERCISE
Use this Balloon Breathing Exercise to check in with students at the beginning of the day. It can help students relieve stress and prepare to focus on learning.
2. 4:8 BREATHING EXERCISE
Play this audio to guide students through 4:8 count breathing exercise. This exercise can help students feel less anxious throughout the day and better control their emotions.
Sometimesstudentshaveexcess energy and need to release that energy. This exercise is great when students seem a little wired and need an outlet. It can help students release tension in the body and develop coordination.
4. STRETCHING BREAKS
Try this exercise in the middle of your day. Each movement break only needs to be a couple of minutes for students to reap the benefits.
5. 4 SQUARE BREATHING
Print out this sheet and give students a copy. Then, use the sheet to guide students through breathing in for the count of 4, holding their breath for the count of 4, and breathing out for the count of 4. Use this exercise to help students relax and find a sense of calm as they prepare to learn.
1. POST POSTERS OF DIFFERENT STATIC & MOVING BREATHING EXERCISES Having these posted around the classroom makes them easy to reference. When students seem to need a break, you have the class pause and choose a pose or breathing exercise to work through. The more visible this information is, the more likely students are to engage with these reminders to move on a regular basis.
2. CREATE BREATHING & STRETCHING CARDS Use a deck of cards or notecards and write different static or dynamic stretches and movements on them. You can set aside class time when the whole class can draw cards to move through some breathing and movement, or you can make this resource available to students to use when they feel like they need a break.
3. PLAY MOVEMENT GAMES Many of the traditional interactive games can be adapted to incorporate movement and breathing. You can take inspiration from musical chairs and play music. Students can move and dance around and then when the music stops and the students hold a static pose. Or students can work through dynamic stretches while the music plays and hold a static pose when it ends until it begins again. You can play a version of “Simon Says” where the leader says different stretches, poses, and breathing exercises. These may seem like activities best for younger students, but actually older students will enjoy these as well!
Not only do movement and breathing practices have mental benefits for your students and create a classroom environment that places an emphasis on physical health, research suggests that by incorporating these practices into your classroom you can improve students’ focus and therefore their academic performance and help improve behavior! Don’t wait to start incorporating these activities into your classroom. Create a great day!