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10-15 minutes


Primary / Junior / Intermediate


Music (optional)


To help students develop a deeper mind/body connection, self-regulation, awareness of emotions, and resiliency by practicing deep breathing

Select a breathing practice that appeals to your group of students and your comfort level.  For each practice, stand/sit with your back straight and keep your shoulders and head relaxed as you gaze forward.

Deep belly breathing
  • Place your hands flat on your stomach. Or pay attention to your stomach.
  • As you breathe deeply in through your nose, send this breath all the way to your stomach.
  • Feel your stomach expand and your hands move out.
  • Breathe out. Feel your stomach contract and your hands move in.
Hot chocolate
  • Place your hands together as if there is a cup of hot chocolate between them.
  • As you breathe in, pretend to smell the hot chocolate.
  • As you breathe out, pretend to blow on the steam.
Breathing kindness
  • As you breathe in – breathe in kindness. Send this kindness to the centre of your body.
  • As you breathe out – breathe out negativity. Send this breath out and away from you.

four square breathing

Four square breathing:

  1. breathe in
  2. hold
  3. breathe out
  4. hold

  • Try this with students lying on their backs. Younger students may find it helpful to put an object on their stomach to watch it go up and down as they take a deep breath. Coach them on the breathing by counting in for four and then exhaling for four.

Guided breathing exercises are an effective tool to help students regulate emotions (Metz et al., 2013). These interventions decrease physiological arousal, so the emotion and anxiety students feel becomes less intense (Gregoski, Barnes, Tingen, Harshfield, & Treiber, 2011), and students can refocus their attention on learning.

Gregoski, M. J., Barnes, V. A., Tingen, M. S., Harshfield, G. A., & Treiber, F. A. (2011). Breathing Awareness Meditation and LifeSkills Training Programs Influence Upon Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Sodium Excretion Among African American Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(1), 59-64. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.05.019

Metz, S. M., Frank, J. L., Reibel, D., Cantrell, T., Sanders, R., & Broderick, P. C. (2013). The Effectiveness of the Learning to BREATHE Program on Adolescent Emotion Regulation. Research in Human Development, 10(3), 252-272. doi:10.1080/15427609.2013.818488