SPARKLERS / Balancing energy

Magic minute

A breathing ‘experiment’ that extends tummy breathing.
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Why we love it

Following on from tummy breathing, this ‘experiment’ helps each student discover how many mindful breaths they take per minute.

Once they know this number, they will be able to do a minute of mindful breathing anytime, anywhere, without having to rely on a clock or watch.

We love mindful breathing because it draws our attention to the present, calming both the body and mind. It can even help us to turn anxiety and anger into feelings of relaxation and focus.

Tikanga tips

Avoid stepping over people, even though this can be tricky in a crowded classroom. If the space is small, ask tamariki to lie with their legs together and bring their arms in close to their bodies, so you have more freedom to move around.

And mind those heads! They’re tapu and shouldn’t be touched unless requested. It’s also important that tamariki aren’t resting their heads on cushions or beanbags people sometimes sit on. If needed, have special pillows for heads only, or improvise with folded sweatshirts.

What to do

Explain that today you’re going to try an easy breathing experiment, so they can work out how many breaths their body likes to do in a minute.

  • Ask them to find a ‘sleeping statue’ position, and close their eyes.
  • Quietly remind them that our breathing has the power to change the way we feel.
  • Let them know that you’re about to time the minute, and that you’d like them to count how many breaths they do. Reassure them that there’s no right or wrong number; it’s just about what feels good.
  • Let them know when to start counting, then when the minute is up ask them to remember their number, open their eyes and sit up.

Give them the chance to share their number with a friend. This will help them remember it.

You may like to repeat the experiment in a seated position, with their eyes closed.

You could also compare results, reinforcing that it’s okay for everyone to have different numbers.

Remind them they can use their Magic Minute number whenever they want to do a minute of breathing – without needing a clock or watch.

What next?

Try our Body Scan activity, to promote relaxation and body awareness.

To bring a truly Aotearoa approach to breathing exercises, we also recommend Hikitea te Hā.

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