Breathing is key to your child’s health so proper breathing is a good foundation to develop in the early years of life. The practice of nasal breathing has been used for thousands of years. People learned that their children caught fewer colds with nasal breathing. There is a reason for this. It creates a stronger nervous system and intelligence. It also allows access to the more subtle energies of the body.
Babies naturally do nasal breathing and as children get older they often start to do mouth breathing. In the past, parents learned to turn their children on their sides and to close their lips to have nasal breathing.
Why nasal breathing for your child?
Breathing through the nose delivers the air deeper into the lobes of the lungs. The inside of the nose has turbinates which act like turbines causing a more rotating, forceful stream of air.
Breathing into the lower part of the lungs helps as 60% to 80% of the lung’s blood supply is there for the oxygen gas exchange. The nerve receptors for the parasympathetic nervous system are more concentrated into the lower lobes of the lungs. This system creates the relaxation response in the body, increases immunity and digestion as well as decreasing the heart rate.
Breathing through the mouth or when a child is crying moves the air to the upper lobes of the lungs. Here the stress receptors are located which are connected with the sympathetic nervous system – the “fight or flight response.” Bringing a screaming baby to the mother’s breast creates instant calm as the babies need to breathe through their noses and removes this stress response.
Knowing this it makes sense to breathe into all five lobes of the lung. Children who do nasal breathing develop calmness and peace on the inside and are better able to manage the stressful life situation on the outside.
For the most part, before 7 years of age children are natural breathers unless they develop the habit of mouth breathing. They breathe like babies, with the tummy (navel point) moving out in the inhale and in and up on the exhale.
Practice the “natural breath” with your children for 3-5 minutes. It is a simple breath sitting in easy pose with the spine straight, relaxed shoulders and eyes closed. You can make it fun by suggesting the lungs are like a balloon being blown up and with exhalation the belly comes in toward the spine.
You can bring it easily into your life by doing it while you take a walk, on the way to school or relaxing on your back in corpse pose.