“mini yogis minute” tip of the week
Teaching ujjayi breath can be extremely challenging no matter how old your students are. But this can be a particular challenge when teaching either very young children or students with developmental delays.
The guttural inhale is very difficult for most at first, but the exhale is not only much more accessible, but much more important. Remember that exhales are more potent than inhales, as exhales–like yoga–are all about release, so they are the best place to start.
At first, it’s best to teach the exhale as a sigh…with the mouth open. Once this is mastered, the same breath can be replicated with the mouth closed.
Of course, even sighing can be difficult if a child lacks physiological awareness of the breath.
Here’s what I recommend:
Have your student hold the back of her hand up, about three inches from her mouth. Tell her to breathe a “hot breath” onto her hand and demonstrate the sighing exhale and have her imitate. Ask if she can feel the hot breath on her hand.
Once she gets the “hot” exhale, switch over to a “cold breath”…blowing out from pursed lips. Again, demonstrate and have her imitate. Make sure she feels the cold breath on her hand.
Then, go back and forth between hot and cold breaths. The ujjayi sigh is the hot breath and a cue you can come back to throughout your teaching.
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