Monday, September 21, 2015

Relax and Calm with your child - Tatty Bumpkin Tummy Breathing Activity

By Sue Heron – Training Co-ordinator Tatty Bumpkin and Paediatric Physiotherapist 

Through all the rush of the new nursery and school year - support your child to cope with tiredness and anxiety by trying Tatty Bumpkin tummy breathing. 

We all need time to relax

A Bit about Breathing

We always have to breathe vital! But our breathing pattern alters in pattern and rhythm at different times of the day and in different emotional states, for example: sighing in despair, panting with exhaustion, holding our breath in fear and terror. 

Usually we breathe automatically, without thinking about it, but we can also alter our breathing pattern at will. 

Because of this unique relationship between our thinking and bodily processes, our breathing pattern can play an important  role in how much we are affected by stress. 

Indeed, breathing is one of the most sensitive indicators or warning signs of stress, because it is such a vital link between our minds and bodies. 

By consciously increasing our awareness about breathing and by practising breathing exercises it is possible to: 

  • Improve our sense of well-being 
  • Decrease our level of stress 
  • Help to bring about interconnectedness between our minds and bodies.
We breathe in two different ways:
  • Chest breathing 
  • Abdominal (or diaphragmatic) breathing. 

Chest Breathing 

We usually chest breathe when we are exercising – we see our chest moving upwards and outwards. 
But if we constantly use chest breathing, it can make our body tense, as if it's under stress. This is because activated upper chest muscles can increase feelings of anxiety. 

Tummy (abdominal or diaphragmatic) Breathing 

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle, which separates our chest and abdomen. 

When we breathe in (inhalation) - our diaphragm contractsflattens and moves downwards, sucking air into our lungs. As our diaphragm moves down, it pushes our abdominal contents down, which forces our abdominal wall outwards

When we breathe out (exhalation) our diaphragm relaxes and air passes out of our lungs. Our abdominal wall moves upwards helping the air to flow out of our lungs. See picture below. 

Tatty Bumpkin Yoga Activity Tummy Breathing 

For Adults
  • As with any new exercise practice makes perfect! So try to do this exercise twice a day for short periods (with or without your child). Then you can use the technique to calm your mind whenever you find your mind dwelling on upsetting thoughts or when you are experiencing pain. It's probably easier to learn abdominal breathing whilst lying down but once you get the hang of it you can do this form of breathing in sitting or standing. 
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy (abdomen). This will help you to gain an awareness of the movements of your chest and abdomen. See picture below for guidance on where to place your hands. 
  • Start by taking a slow deep breath in through your nose imagining that you are sucking in all the air in the room and hold it for about 5-7 seconds  (or as long as you are able, do exceed 7 seconds).  As you breathe in the hand on your tummy should rise higher than the one on the chest. This insures that your diaphragm is pulling air into the bases of your lungs.
  • Now slowly breathe out through your mouth for a count of 5-7 seconds. As you release the air from your lungs, gently tighten your tummy (abdominal) muscles to completely evacuate the remaining air from your lungs. You should now feel the hand on tummy moving downwards. See picture below. 
  • It is important to remember that to take a deep breath  - we need to focus on breathing in, and then  make sure we have breathed out fully. Repeat the ‘cycle’ 3 – 4 times.  

Tummy Breathing and Relaxation – With Your Child 

  • Find two toy ducks (the non – squeaky kind!) or similar toys and esttle down with your child on a soft carpet or mat.  You may wish to listen to some gentle music i.e. Tatty Bumpkin Relax Song see
  • Start by showing your child what to do. Lie down on your back (you may want to put a cushion under your knees to make your back comfortable) and place one for the ducks on your tummy.
  • Using the tummy breathing technique above show your child how you can make the duck on your tummy go up and down by only using your breath! 
  • Some children might find it useful to place their hands on your tummy so they can feel it go up and down. This is also a lovely ‘bonding’ experience for both of you. 
  • Then guide your child to lie down with you and place the other toy duck or a toy on their tummy. Encourage your child to try and make their duck ‘bob up and down’ on their tummy by taking deeper breaths. Watch your child’s breathing to check that: 
    • As they breathe IN their tummy is moving UPWARDS and OUTWARDS – so they are lifting their duck up with their tummy. 
    • As they breathe OUT their tummy moves inwards and downwards – so letting their duck fall. 
    • If your child is doing the movements the other way round i.e. as they breathe in they suck their tummy in – gently try to correct them. 
Only let your child do 3 or 4 breaths in a row and then to rest as you do not want them to become dizzy. 

Progressions for Tummy Breathing 

If your child is older they may want to have a go at tummy breathing whilst sitting up or standing so that they can use this kind of breathing to calmed themselves when they are feeling a anxious or stressed. Below is an exercise your child can practise so they tummy breathe whilst sitting. 

Balloon Breathing Technique for Children 
  • Find a supportive seat for your child, ideally one with arms, and encourage them to sit up as straight as they can. 
  • Guide your child to:
    • Put both their hands on their tummy. 
    • Then to keep their mouth closed and take a slow breath in through their nose.
  • Tell your child to imagine, as they breathe in, that there is a balloon in their tummy and they are trying to fill it up with air. 
  • Encourage your child to keep breathing in until they think the balloon in their tummy has enough air inside! Don’t encourage your child to breathe in too much as they may then find it hard to stay relaxed. Your child should be feeling their hands on their tummy are moving outwards – point this out to them. 
  • When your child feels their ‘tummy balloon’ is full of air encourage them to imagine they have let go of the balloon, and the air is rushing out! Guide your child to breathe out slowly through their mouth (with pursed lips). They should no feel their hands on their tummy are coming back towards their body. Guide your child to do 4-5 breaths like this then to breathe normally. 

Benefits of Tatty Bumpkin’s Tummy Breathing for You and Your Child 

Why Tummy Breathing is Good for You 

Abdominal breathing is the most efficient and relaxed way of getting enough air into your lungs.This type of breathing has two important effects on the body:
  1. It is in itself relaxing compared to the ‘emergency mode’ breathing of the upper chest, which is an integral part of ‘fight or flight’ response to a stressful situation. 
  2. It is typical of the regenerating processes such as when you are asleep, digesting food or the body is at peace.  
As you take deeper, slower breaths whilst practising abdominal breathing you will automatically be slowing your heart rate. This in turn can help you to relax and feel calmer. Allowing yourself a few minutes of relaxation over the course of your day can often give your energy levels a boost. 

Why Tummy Breathing is Good for your Child

As your child concentrates on ‘abdominal breathing’ and relaxes they will be: 

1. Increasing their awareness of their breath and its effect on their body. When your child takes deeper breaths, their breathing and heart rate will become slower and this in turn will help your child to calm down. Tummy breathing is a great skill to learn at a young age as it becomes harder to co-ordinate this movement as we get older. 

2. Learning the skill of ‘relaxation’. It is never too early for your child to become more aware of how their body feels when they are ‘quiet’ for a while. When we relax we often find it easier to think – it is the same for your child. Perhaps encourage them to think back on their day and what they have done or maybe what they would like to do. Reflection & thinking time is vital for learning & helps develop an imaginative & creative mind. Your child will start to think not just ‘what is’ but ‘what if?!’ Leaders, artists & entrepreneurs all think creatively. 

Love Tatty Bumpkin x

Find out about your local Tatty Bumpkin class at Or, ask your child’s nursery if they are doing Tatty Bumpkin Yoga activity sessions as part of their day. 

A New Start with Tatty Bumpkin?  

Or, maybe, you are thinking of a new career which gives you:
  • The opportunity to work with kids
  • A great sense of job satisfaction and
  • Flexible working to fit around your own family

Find out how you could be trained to deliver Baby and Tatty Bumpkin classes in your area at:

'Tatty Bumpkiners' celebrating their achievements! 

No comments:

Post a Comment