Today we’re going to learn about waking up the body by moving with our breath. Moving is a great way to wake up in the morning, or later in the afternoon when you’re feeling sleepy. When we link breath with movement, the movement becomes Mindful and easier to do for our muscles. This is because breathing deeply lets our muscles know that it’s okay to relax. When we take short breaths, our brain gets worried and our muscles have to work harder.
We will start by standing up in mountain pose, with our feet as wide as our hips, toes pointing forward. Make yourself really tall by lifting up through the crown of your head and rolling your shoulders down your back. Gently close the eyes and begin to pay attention to the breath. Follow the in-breath down to the belly, and follow the out-breath up through the chest, throat and nose. Continue breathing in and out this way while slowing down the breath so that each inhale and exhale becomes longer.
Now we will add movement to our breath. On your next in-breath, slowly lift your arms out wide like wings and up overhead- bringing your hands or fingertips together to touch. On your next out-breath, slowly lower your hands back down to your side. Continue with this movement: inhaling arms up overhead, and exhaling them slowly down. When you move, pretend like your arms are moving through honey, so that you have to be very strong, slow and mindful as you move in order to get them through all that honey! This movement might seem familiar if you remember our Balloon Breathing exercise. If you don’t remember it, you can always go back and try it later.
On your next in-breath, reach the arms back up. And on your next out-breath, bend your knees a little bit and take a swan dive all the way into a forward fold (arms wide, long, flat back), still standing on your feet. On the in-breath, bring hands to shins and look straight ahead, then fold back down on the out-breath. The next in-breath will take you all the way up to stand through a reverse swan dive (arms out, long, flat back). The next out-breath will bring your hands back to your side in mountain pose.
Notice the way your muscles feel after that little bit of movement. Notice the way your breath is moving in and out of your body. Hopefully you feel more awake and ready to start the rest of your day.
Student tip: You can practice this movement several times in a row, depending on how much time you have and depending on how much heat you want to create in your muscles. This is a great practice to do first thing in the morning, especially if it’s a cold and you don’t want to get out of bed. Be sure to check in with your body each time you go through the movements to make sure nothing is hurting and that you aren’t feeling dizzy. Sometimes moving too fast with too little breath coming in and out can make us dizzy. This is the body’s reminder to slow down both breath and movement.
Teacher’s tip: You can run through this series several times as well, depending on the result you are looking to achieve. Doing this a few times could wake up some sleepy kids, while doing this many times can help tire out some energetic kids. Try the practice out yourself in the morning so that you know how it will feel in their bodies too.