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

Provide context for the practice (see “Evidence” section).
For each practice, ask students to stand/sit with their backs straight and keep their shoulders and heads relaxed as they gaze forward, or they can close their eyes if they feel comfortable doing that.

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.

These practices should be practised regularly and can be done anywhere.

Have students choose a focus word to silently repeat with each breath (Yahweh, Maranatha, peace, love).

Guided breathing exercises are an effective tool to help students regulate emotions (Metz et al., 2013). Specifically, Embry & Biglan (2008) state that when practising nasal breathing (i.e. breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth) cognitive function is improved, while feelings of panic, anxiety, and hostility are reduced. Interventions that decrease physiological arousal, so the emotion and anxiety students feel becomes less intense, help students to refocus their attention on learning (Gregoski et al., 2011).

Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-based kernels: fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clinical child and family psychology review, 11(3), 75–113. doi:10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x

Gregoski, M. J., Barnes, V. A., Tingen, M. S., Harshfield, G. A., & Treiber, F. A. (2011). Breathing Awareness Meditation and Life Skills 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