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5-10 minutes






To build a regular practice that helps students focus their attention, calm feelings of anxiety, and manage stress

Provide context for the practice (see “Evidence” section).
Practice these steps ahead of implementing them with students.
Remind students to keep breathing. Model these actions as you go through your instructions.

Side stretch
  • Stand up straight with shoulders relaxed. Take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.
  • Now breathe silently. Bring your palms together above your head and stretch them as high as you can. Relax your shoulders as you breathe out. Keeping your arms stretched high, breathe in and gently lean to one side, from your hips.
  • On your next breath out, stretch a little bit further. Breathe in and out as you center yourself. Breathe in and tilt from your hips to the other side.
  • On your next breath out, lean a little further, then center yourself again.
  • Shape your hands into fists and place them on your hips. Breathe in and stand tall, shoulders relaxed. Now twist from your waist to one side, as you breathe out.
  • Take another breath and then twist a little further as you breathe out. Breathe in as you come back to the center. Breathe out and twist a little further from your waist to the other side. As you breathe in, come back to the center.
  • Bring your hands to your heart. Notice if you feel a little more relaxed or strong
Tree stretch
  • Stand tall, stretch your arms slightly to the side and relax your elbows and shoulders. Shift your weight onto your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Gently put your left foot to the inside of your right leg, avoiding your knee (can be above or below knee, just not on).
  • For balance, focus your eyes on the floor or keep your arms at your side instead of raising them.

Discuss afterwards how students feel before versus after the practice.

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. Additionally, stretching exercises not only relax one’s mind, they also reduce stress (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018). Students who engage in physical activity and/or breathing exercises during the school day are able to focus, and maintain attention throughout the day, as these tasks stimulate the brain and allow students to better regulate the emotions they are experiencing.

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

Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Exercising to relax. Retrieved from: Exercising to relax