Different Nostril Breath

Different Nostril Breath

Teachers: Make sure you and your students are familiar with Full Mindful Breath (earlier in this series). It is important to practice this at least once before teaching so you can demonstrate for your students.

Begin reading here:

This week’s practice is Different Nostril Breath. It is a practice to make you feel calm, and also mindful of your body. Different Nostril Breath is also meant to challenge your brain a little bit to see if it is paying attention.

If you don’t know what your nostrils are, they are the places where you breathe into your nose. You have two nostrils: one on the right ( teacher: touch the right one to demonstrate) and one on the left (touch the right one to demonstrate). Now you try. Point to your right nostril. Good! Now point to your left nostril. Awesome! Different Nostril Breath uses both nostrils, so it is important to know right from left.

Different Nostril Breath doesn’t just have to do with your nose: the next step is to learn how our hands go in this practice. Hold up your right hand. Good. Now curl your pointing finger and the middle finger down (Teacher: hold up your hand to show them). I’m going to show you Different Nostril Breath one time before we practice together.

Keep your hand like this and cover your right nostril with your thumb. Take a Full Mindful Breath in to your left nostril. Then cover your left nostril with your ring and pinky fingers and breathe out of your right nostril. Now take a Full Mindful Breath into your right nostril. Then cover that nostril with your thumb and breathe out of your left one!

Now let’s try it together! If your nose is stuffy, just close your eyes and imagine following along with us. You can even hold your hand the same way, just don’t press down on your nostrils. Remember to keep your pointer and middle fingers down. Now cover your right nostril with your thumb. Take a Full Mindful Breath in to your left nostril. Then cover your left nostril with your ring and pinky fingers and breathe out of your right nostril. Now take a Full Mindful Breath into your right nostril. Then cover that nostril with your thumb and breathe out of your left one!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPractice that three more times. Thumb on right nostril, in-breath on the left. Pinky and ring on left nostril, out-breath on the right. In-breath on the right. Thumb covers right nostril and out-breath on the left. Imagine that you are breathing in and out slowly and softly, as if there is a feather under your nose and you are trying to keep it from blowing away!

Try one more time on your own. Remember to breathe softly and slowly. End on the left side (where you begin).

Great job! How did that feel? Was it hard for anyone?

Teacher: take some time for feedback and reflection from students on how that felt in their bodies.

Teacher’s Tip: This is a great practice to calm students down and get their brains into focus mode.

Student’s Tip: Practice Different Nostril Breath anytime you want to feel a little more calm in your mind and body. If you have a stuffy nose, remember to close your eyes and just imagine covering up your nostrils on each side.

Equal Breath

Equal Breath

Today’s practice is on Equal Breath. This practice helps us notice how long our in-breaths and out-breaths are, and then Mindfully change them so that they are the same length. There is no right or wrong way to do this practice, so just try your best. If you find that it doesn’t feel good in your body, practice Belly Breathing or Full Mindful Breath instead.

Equal Breath means we are breathing in for as much time as we are breathing out. So if our in-breath takes us to the count of three, our out-breath will take three counts too. The easiest way to understand the practice is to try it yourself, so let’s practice Equal Breath together.

Begin by finding a comfy seat and closing your eyes. Wiggle around a little to make sure you are really comfy, and then let your hands rest on your legs or knees. Relax your fingers here. Get really tall through the top of your head, and roll your shoulders down your back. If you’d like, you can imagine glitter from your Mindful Glitter Globe traveling from head to toe to help your body relax.

Once the imaginary glitter reaches your toes, begin to notice your breath. See if your breaths are long or short. Also see if your breaths go all the way into your belly, or if they only go into your chest. If you can, let your in breath fill up your belly, and let your out breath empty your belly (Belly Breathing). Then begin to move your in-breath through your belly, all the way into your chest for Full Mindful Breath. Let the out-breath move down from your chest, through your belly and out of your nose.

Once you find your Full Mindful Breath, see if you can count the time it takes for you to breathe in. It’s okay if you don’t get it exactly! Just notice about how much time it takes. Then see if you can count the time it takes for you to breathe out. A lot of the time one is longer than the other. In this practice we will see if we can make them even, and just notice how it feels.

Take your next breath in for 3…2…1 and hold for just a second. Then take your next breath out for 3…2…1 and hold out for just a second. Try that two more times on your own and notice how that feels as you breathe normally after [pause 15 seconds].

Now we’re going to make our in breath and out breath just a little longer. If this doesn’t feel good in your body, just stick with 3 counts. Take your next in breath for 5…4…3…2…1 and hold for just a second. Then take your next out breath for 5…4…3…2…1 and hold out for just a second. Try this 3 more times on your own, either for a 3 count or a 5 count like we just did. When you finish, breathe normally and notice how you feel and how that felt for you to practice [teacher: pause for 1-1.5 min].

When you are done, slowly open your eyes and come back into the room.

What did you notice in that practice [teachers take some reflections from students]?

Student’s Tip: You can practice Equal Breath anytime you want to notice how you are breathing. Equal Breath can help you slow down your breathing to take longer breaths in and longer breaths out. If you do practice Equal Breath on your own, try practicing Belly Breathing and Full Mindful Breath right before so that you can make your breath bigger before slowing it down.

Teacher’s Tip: It can be helpful for students to be familiar with Belly Breathing and Full Mindful Breath before this practice (if they aren’t already). This practice also refers to our Mindful Glitter Globe series, so that may be a good practice to do beforehand as well, or you can just take out the sentences about the Glitter Globe.

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Full Mindful Breath

Full Mindful Breath is the first practice in our Mindful Breathing Practice Series. We will use the skills we’ve learned from Belly Breathing and Glitter Globe Body Scan to try out a deeper breathing practice.

Begin by finding a comfy seat or standing position, depending on where you are and the space you have available. Make your spine even taller by reaching up through the crown of your head. Allow your eyes to gently close if that is comfortable, and bring one hand to your belly, one hand to your heart.

Begin to notice your breath. Is it big or small? Long or short? See if you can begin to change your breath into Belly Breathing. Fill up your belly on the in-breath, and let it become empty on the out-breath. Do this for three more rounds.

On the fourth round, begin to fill up your belly on the in-breath, and then see if you can fill your body up with breath even more, so that the in-breath fills up your heart space too! You might notice the hand on your heart lift up a little at the top of your in-breath. On the out breath, empty from your heart space, all the way down to your belly, and out of your nose! You might notice that when you got to the top of your breath, your belly pulled in a little bit. That is okay! Every body is different, so it is okay if your belly didn’t pull in a little bit.

Let’s practice one more time together. On the in breath, imagine that the air you take in is like a wave. It moves down your nose, into your belly to fill it up, then keeps going all the way up to your heart space. Your heart space is like the sea shore. Once it gets there, just like a wave, you can hold your breath for just a second, then let it roll out of your body, starting at your chest, moving through your belly and out of your nose.

Now try this five more times on your own! Notice how your hands may lift and lower when you take your in-breath, and out-breath.

When you finish the fifth time, close your eyes and notice how you feel.

[teacher bring them back after everyone has been finished for 30 seconds- 1 minute depending on how still they are]

How did that feel? What did you notice?

Teachers Tip: It might be helpful to show students a clip of an ocean wave before or after practicing to help them visualize the practice. Also remind students that if the breath is uncomfortable, they can stop at any time (ex. if a student has really bad allergies, is sick, or has asthma).

Students Tip: You can practice this breathing any time you’d like. It can help you hit the pause button if there’s a lot going on, and come back to a place of calm.


Mindful Breathing Practice Series

Mindful Breathing Practice Series

Over the next few weeks we will introduce Mindful Breathing Practices as a three-part series.

  1. Full Mindful Breath
  2. Equal Breath
  3. Different Nostril Breath

We have already practiced some different kinds of breath and body awareness, and the Mindful Breathing Practice Series will build off of the ones we’ve learned before.

Practices that will be helpful to review for the coming weeks are:

  • Belly Breathing
  • Glitter Globe Body Scan

These practices will be referred to in the Mindful Breathing Practice Series, so it will be very helpful for teachers and students to be familiar and comfortable with them before moving on.

The most important thing to pay attention to with your students is how they are feeling. If a practice doesn’t feel good in their body, they are always welcome to stay at an earlier practice.

Stay tuned for the series!


Take a Cool Down Breath

Take a Cool Down Breath

Today’s lesson is a simple tool to help cool you down when your body, mind, or emotions are feeling hot hot hot! Sometimes we feel really warm in our bodies on a sunny day or after sports or recess. Sometimes we feel like our minds are working overtime and we’re overheating with our thoughts. Sometimes our emotions might feel so powerful like they’re going to burst right out of us! This practice gives you the chance to take a Cool Down Breath, and notice the changes in your body, mind and feelings when you do.

To begin, lets start with a practice that gets you warm in your body. This is an easier example to notice, so we’ll stick with that one with our practice today. Begin by taking 20 jumping jacks, or running in place for 20 seconds. Then pause, close your eyes and notice how your body feels. Odds are that it is probably a little warmer than it was before.

Once you notice your body, take your attention to your breath. There are a few steps to take Cool Down Breath:

  1. Keep your eyes closed to keep your mind cool and calm
  2. If you can, make a straw shape with your tongue. If you can’t make this shape, press your tongue to the back of your top teeth.
  3. If you have your tongue in the shape of a straw, breathe in through your straw for 5-4-3-2-1 and fill up your belly. Hold the breath for 3-2-1 and slowly let it go. Try that 3 more times.
  4. If you have your tongue pressing into the back of your teeth, open your mouth really wide and inhale through the sides of your mouth to fill up your belly for 5-4-3-2-1. Hold the breath for 3-2-1 and slowly let it go. Try that 3 more times.
  5. It will probably sound pretty silly! Don’t worry, we’re all practicing together.
  6. At the end of your third round, keep your eyes closed and notice how your body feels now.
  7. Now open your eyes and raise your hands to share what you noticed!

Teachers: this can be a fun interactive practice for right after lunch, recess, or on a hot day to cool kids down a little bit.

Students: you can also try this breath when your mind or emotions are feeling really worked up. Practice for 5 rounds, then sit and notice how you feel.

Belly Breathing Exercise

Belly Breathing Exercise

Today’s practice is belly breathing. In this breathing exercise, we will learn to follow or breath as it goes in and out of our body.

We will begin our practice by finding a comfortable seat in our chair or on the floor. Check to see that your feet are rooting into the ground if in a chair, or that you feel like your seat is rooting down if you’re on the floor. Start with your hands face down on your legs, letting the arms relax. Close the eyes if this feels safe, and reach the top of your head toward the sky to make your back long and tall. On your next breath in, roll your shoulders up to your ears and breathe out as they roll down your back.

When you’re ready, bring one hand onto your belly and the other hand onto your chest. It doesn’t matter which hand goes to either place, whichever one you prefer is the right way for you.

Once your hands are on your belly and chest, begin notice your breath. See if you can feel your belly pressing into your hand when you take a breath in, and feel your belly move away from your hand as you breathe out. On the out breath, see if you can follow your out breath out of your belly and up through your chest.

Now we will begin to take deeper breaths in and out, taking more time to follow the path of our breath. As you slowly breathe in, follow your breath all the way down, through your nose, throat and chest, and into your belly. Feel your belly expand really big into your hand. Imagine your belly growing as big as your arms did when we practiced balloon breathing. At the end of this big breath in, feel your belly and hand pull back in toward your body. Notice your breath traveling up your belly, up through your chest and throat, and leaving through your nose.

Continue this breathing on your own now: filling up your belly on the in breath, emptying your belly on the out breath. The path of our breath starts in the nose, and goes down to the belly as we breathe in- and up through the belly, out of the nose as we breathe out. See if you can keep following your breath as it moves along this path through your body. It is okay if you get distracted. Just notice when you do, and see if you can find your breath again.

Teachers: Let students continue this breath on their own for 30 more seconds

At the end of your next out breath, follow the air all the way out through your nose. You can begin to breathe normally again, and slowly, slowly bring your hands back to your legs- keeping the eyes closed for just a little longer.

On your next in breath, roll your shoulders up to your ears. On your out breath, let them roll down your back like a waterfall. When you are ready, you can gently open your eyes, coming back into the room.

Students: Practice this breathing whenever you would like to feel calm and in charge of your feelings- or whenever you want to take a time out from a situation.

Teachers: This is a wonderful, calming practice for students. It brings them into their breath and back into the present moment.

Balloon Breathing

10013-a-hot-air-balloon-in-a-blue-sky-pvFind a comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair. Make your back really tall, like someone was going to check to see if you grew any taller today. Reach your head up high like you are trying to make it touch the ceiling.

Begin to notice your breath. Are you taking big breaths or little breaths? If you are taking little breaths, start to make them bigger ones. Follow your breath as the air goes into your nose, down your throat, and all the way into your belly. Let that breath fill up your belly like a big balloon! When you are ready to let that breath out, pull your belly button in towards your back to squeeze all the air out. See if you can make your breath go out exactly the same way it went in. Starting in your balloon belly this time and pushing it all the way back up your throat and out of your nose.

Now, as you fill up your balloon belly, open your arms really wide so that you are making your whole body fill up like a balloon. Imagine you are filling up with so much air that you could almost fly like a balloon. As your belly fills, move your heart up as you let your head tilt back, looking up to the sky. You can imagine yourself floating up into the clouds. When you are ready to exhale, bring your arms back to your body and give yourself a nice big hug, rounding your back as you curl into a little ball.

Keep breathing like this: making yourself as big as you can on the inhale, and as small as you can on the exhale.

Teachers note: The most important part of balloon breath is to open up the chest on the inhale and curl up on the exhale. Balloon breath is a great way to start the day, as it is energizing and relieves tension in the shoulders that can make breath short.