Why we love Tummy Breathing

Breathing deep into our tummies is a quick easy way to engage the body’s natural relaxation response. It draws our attention to the present, boosts concentration, and can help us turn anxiety and anger into feelings of relaxation and focus. Amazing aye?

Talk about the fact that focusing on our breathing helps calm our body and mind. Let your children know that you’re all going to practice this to help keep your family and home a little calmer.

What to do

  • If your children are young, show them this fun Sesame Street video on tummy breathing and let them try it.
  • You don’t need to lie down on the floor to tummy breathe – you may want to be on the couch, bed or a bean bag. Somewhere comfortable and free from distractions (or as much as you can!).
  • Let your kids know to put their hands or a book on their tummies so they can feel it going up and down. (Younger tamariki may like to put their hands behind their head, so the rise and fall of their tummy occurs more naturally.) Do this with them. They may like to breathe in for a slow count to four, and out again for a slow count to four.
  • A fun way to also draw attention to the ‘tummy’ movement while breathing like this is by making origami boats and placing these on your tummies so the boat moves up and down, as it would on a calm sea.

Tummy breathing is something that gets easier with practice. Introduce the concept of trying some tummy breathing the next time they want to feel better or relax – use it in line with their Sensory Kete, or do this each night before bedtime – it will help make kids super sleepy and relaxed.

Ways to use Tummy Breathing everyday

Remind yourself (out loud, because it's great modelling!) and your kids that when things get worrying, frustrating or stressy to take some tummy breaths.

Try using some of the apps available – anything to help keep deep breathing as an active part of your world – it really is the best thing we can do to calm down. There are heaps of free options available.

We also love Karen Young's cool book Hey Warrior. It's is a great book to work with alongside Tummy Breathing, with excellent explanations for tamariki.