It can be difficult to slow a child down long enough to have them focus on anything, let alone their breathing! As much as children know, and have been taught, that taking "deep breaths" can help their little bodies and minds calm and slow down, it may be difficult for some children to actually access deep breathing for a variety of reasons. They may just be busy being kiddos and running around from here to there, not taking pause enough to, in fact, pay attention to their breath. They may be dealing with some anxiety, which dramatically shortens the breath. Or, they may just not know what it feels like to take a really deep breath. Being able to access and focus on your breath can be very beneficial to self-regulation - helping to calm the mind and body and access more appropriate emotional responses in the face of disappointment, frustration, or unmet desires. Using visual tools - like the Hoberman Sphere - is one way to help children access deeper breathing.
Why does the Hoberman Sphere help??
1. It provides a visual of the breath
As you INHALE the sphere opens - just like your lungs filling with air. As you EXHALE, the sphere closes - as all the air moves out of your lungs.
2. The child has something fun and colourful to focus on and help keep them engaged!
It may be very unrealistic for a child to sit still, close their eyes, and breathe. Having something fun and colourful to look at and move with their hands gives them something else to focus their attention on.
How to use the Hoberman Sphere to teach Breath Awareness and Deeper Breathing:
1. Begin by demonstrating and having the child watch and breathe while you hold the sphere. You want to demonstrate opening and closing the sphere SLOWLY to make sure you are giving time to take a nice, long, deep breath.
2. As you INHALE - slowly OPEN the sphere all the way up - explaining that the sphere gets bigger, just like your lungs and rib cage do when they fill with air.
3. As you EXHALE, slowly CLOSE the sphere, explaining that the sphere gets smaller just like the rib-cage when all the air is pushed out.
4. After demonstrating, have the child hold and use the sphere. Try and get to 10 breaths, making each inhale and exhale 3-5 counts long.
Let me know if you try the Hoberman Sphere to help the kiddos your work or live with access their breath! And, if you are looking for Yoga Programming for Children and Youth with various needs, check out the Your Best Kids Page.