Avoid this Common Mistake with the Hoberman Sphere (Breathing Ball) in Kids Yoga

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, in kids yoga you could say the same about a good prop.  A good prop becomes your classroom management as it silences conversations and draws kids into your circle. It’s the difference between asking kids to be quiet and quieting them without having to ask.

The breathing ball (also known as the Hoberman Sphere) is a favourite prop of many teachers. When introduced as a tool for calming and connecting to the breath, rather than just a nifty toy, the breathing ball captivates kids attention.

pictures of the Breathing ball, and expanding ball that is also known as a Hoberman sphere

The Breathing Ball, also known as a Hoberman Sphere

3 Breathing Ball Activities

Here are 3 ways to use the Breathing Ball:

  1. Demonstrate Lungs: explain how the lungs expand and contract with the inhale and exhale
  2. Self-Regulation: Leave the breathing ball in the quiet area of your class, on a child’s desk, or on a bedside table for children to use on their own. It’s an engaging tool for self-regulation once children know how to use it.
  3. Children Follow the Ball: The teacher opens and closes the ball, the class breathes to match the pace of the movement.
a kids yoga teacher demonstrates the breath by opening and closing a breathing ball.

Using the breathing ball for the whole class to see.

The Common Mistake

A common mistake teachers make happens in the 3rd activity above.  When you open and close the ball and ask children to breathe along with the movement, make sure you are breathing at a pace suited to the age and lung capacity of the group you’re teaching.

Kids won’t be able to follow a breathing ball that is opened and closed too slowly. It’s not physically possible for little lungs to keep up with adult lungs, especially the lungs of a yoga practitioner.

Consider these Ventilation/Respiration Rates for Children and Adults

Average resting respiratory rates by age are cited on Wikipedia:

  • birth to 6 weeks: 30–40 breaths per minute
  • 6 months: 25–40 breaths per minute
  • 3 years: 20–30 breaths per minute
  • 6 years: 18–25 breaths per minute
  • 10 years: 17–23 breaths per minute
  • Adults: 12-18-breaths per minute
  • Elderly ≥ 65 years old: 12-28 breaths per minute.
  • Elderly ≥ 80 years old: 10-30 breaths per minute.

Children breath faster because their lungs are smaller.

The Breathing Ball is a great attention getter, but you risk creating frustration in children if you don’t choose an age appropriate pace.

children use a breathing ball, opening and closing it wiht their breath to demonstrate the pace of their breathing.

Children set the pace with the Breathing Ball in a Yoga Class

4th Breathing Ball Activity – Ball follows Child’s Breath:

  1. Breathing Ball Follows the Child’s Breath: Instead of starting with #3, try this activity.  Invite a child to sit with you and take a few deep breaths moving their arms and emphasizing their breath. Then the teacher opens and closes the breathing ball to follow the breath of the student, instead of the child following the breathing ball.  When you follow the breath for a few cycles, it can start to change on its own.  Try this exercise for a minute with different children and kids soon see the different breathing rates and how awareness can change the breath.

The breathing ball is a favourite yoga prop for many.  When you learn the various ways to use the Breathing Ball, it becomes imbued with the power to bring calm and peace. And laughter too since kids will find silly ways to use the breathing ball on their own!

3 kids put the breathing ball over their heads and look at ehe camera laughing

Of course, kids will also find new ways to use the breathing ball.

Upcoming Kids Yoga Teacher Training

Each person registered in the Branching Out Module receives a Breathing Ball and more Breathing Ball activities too!

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