MIDL for Teachers

3 Minute Belly Breathing Instruction

1. Exercise is done sitting down, with experience your students may also stand with relaxed legs, knees slightly bent for balance.

2. Ask them to sit up straight and relax. They can adjust slumping postures, as it affects breathing,  by pushing their shoulder forward, bringing them up, then back and then by dropping them down, this will lock their shoulders back in place.  You can make it fun by telling them they will be practicing upside-down breathing. This means breathing from their belly up into their chest instead of from their chest down into their belly (stress breathing).

3. Explain how to place their hands below their belly button. This is done with one palm either side of the belly with fingers touching in the middle just below the belly button. This will make them use their diaphragm muscle to breathe. 

4. Ask them to press lightly with their finger tips so that they will be able to feel the movement in their belly when they breathe.

5. Breathing is done in and out through the nose for health reasons as well as it creating a back-pressure with the diaphragm for a slow, calming out-breath.

6. Advise them to breathe gently and slowly in to lift up their fingers. Be aware of anyone that is over-straining to do this, show them how gently we can breathe into our belly. Also if a student finds it hard to breathe down into their belly, feeling tightness below their ribs, it will be because they are misunderstanding and trying to breathe in using their chest instead of their diaphragm.

7. Note: Depending on the age of the students you will have to adjust the rate of your own breathing when guiding. Older students may take 3 to 4 seconds per breath where as younger students may take 1 to 2 seconds per breath.

8. Make the in-breath and out-breath slow, particularly emphasizing the slowness of the breath as it goes out. This keeps the C02 in the lungs longer and helps the imbalance of C02 levels associated with stress breathing to return to balance.

9. After a few, deep belly breaths we then bring the breath into our chest. Instruct the students to leave one palm below their belly button and to place the other hand at the top of their chest, just below their collar bone.

10. Then instruct them to breathe slowly into their belly, then by pushing their chest out, into their ribs moving to the top on their chest and ......... relaxxxxxxxxx with the out-breath. Make the sound relaxxxxxxxxx to guide them. Ask them to relax their whole body, allowing gravity to pull them down, to become very heavy, relaxed, calm.

11. After the meditation they can place their hands on their lap, eyes closed gently, sitting quietly for  10 seconds, this allow the effects of the deep breathing to settle and have a calming effect.

This article was written by Stephen Procter, The Mindfulness Alliance Foundation. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference/link back to this website, thank you.