How Practicing Deep Breathing Changed My School Counseling Program
Teaching kids to take 3 calming breaths used to be stressful to me! Do they breathe through their nose or mouth? Does their belly go up or down? For 25 years students have come to me for anger and emotional help as a school counselor, yet I never felt confident teaching this coping mechanism. The school day was exhausting, but I continued to try to teach calming breaths because experts said it worked. But did it?
Many years ago I reluctantly took a yoga class to show support to a parent who offered yoga to teachers at my school. I surprisingly discovered the magical tool of deep breathing during this class. When I left the class, my body felt calm and my mind was clear. It took a few more classes to realize that my body was holding fear, anger, resentment, and stress. My body did not know how to relax. I continued discovering myself with each lesson until finally I decided to become an instructor myself.
Now I teach breathing to children daily. It is the first thing I do when I go into the classrooms. What I thought was a difficult coping tool to teach has become the tool I live by in my own life. The breath - such a simple and FREE gift we were given at birth. Now when an angry parent comes to my office, I simply breathe knowing that they are their child’s advocate. When I have a conflict with others, I PAUSE, BREATHE, AND RELAX instead of react. When I feel tired in the afternoon and want a nap, I breathe and stretch to bring energy into my day!
I am forever thankful for that first yoga class. It allowed me to recognize the stress and tension in my body. When I focus on my breath going in and out of my nose, I find calmness. Now my students enjoy learning these breathing tips by practicing with me.