As a girl, Mallika Chopra—daughter of the legendary teacher, Deepak—learned the transformative power of meditation. Here, she shares a one-minute breath practice for kids that can help ease anxiety immediately.
I was 9 years old when my parents, Rita and Deepak Chopra, learned how to meditate. Even though they were from India, they discovered meditation as young immigrants in Boston, where my father was a stressed-out, unhappy doctor. Meditation transformed their lives by giving them a tool to manage stress and to be more in control of bad habits, but more importantly, to connect with their souls through experiencing silence.
For my brother and me, meditation was appealing because our parents’ practice improved our family life: We became a happier, more connected family. I feel meditation was the most precious gift my parents ever gave me, because it provided an anchor to slow down, breathe, and have inner confidence as I went through phases of discovery and uncertainty. When I became a mother, I shared the lessons I learned from my parents with my daughters, their friends, and our community.
Meditation, mindfulness techniques, and yoga are age-old practices that have survived generations. For kids today, these techniques are as relevant as ever, particularly in a time when hyperstimulation from social media, overscheduling, and a general loss of silence is the norm. Just breathing itself may be simple, but it is also incredibly powerful.
Here’s a simple technique to help the children in your life manage stress—the first step to a lifelong journey of self-discovery.
See also This One Simple Practice Will Change How You Feel About Yourself
Step No. 1: Talk to Kids About What Their Breathing Is Trying to Tell Them
Breathing is nourishing to your body. When you breathe in, oxygen gives your cells the energy they need to keep you healthy. Breath stimulates movement and circulation.
As you breathe out, you release carbon dioxide and toxins (bad chemicals) from your body. Think about it: breathing is what tells you that you are actually alive!
Your thoughts are linked to your breath. When your mind is racing with thoughts, particularly when you get excited (happy or not so happy), your breathing usually gets faster. Think about when you are about to get on a roller coaster or enter a haunted house: Do you feel like your breathing gets faster?
What about when you are really upset because your parents got mad at you or you had a fight with your best friend? In between cries, your breathing is usually faster, as well. Maybe you get so upset that it feels like your breath is too fast and you just can’t slow down. And then, suddenly, you have to take a deep breath to calm down.
Or do you find your breathing growing faster when you feel you have too much homework or too many extracurricular things to do?
When you are overwhelmed, you start to experience that stressed, anxious feeling—almost like butterflies fluttering in your stomach. Breathing on purpose can be one of the most helpful ways to get you back in control of any situation. It can also help get you ready to face challenges, to take a pause and think before you act so that you make smart decisions that feel right to you. Your breath is always with you—a good friend indeed!
See also 11 Poses to Help Kids Feel Brave
Step No. 2: Help Kids Learn How to Simply Breathe
Right now, take a deep breath. Breathe in. And out. Again. Breathe in and out.
Do you notice that when you are breathing your mind stops racing? Try thinking a thought and breathing at the same time. For example, say your name in your mind and then breathe. You will notice that your mind jumps from thinking your name to noticing your breath. It is hard to do both at the same time!
In this way, breathing helps you control your racing thoughts. You can control what’s going on in your head by changing how you breathe. When you are in control of your thoughts, you will act more calmly, will be more relaxed, and will generally find you are happier.
Breathe. In. Out. Breathe again.
Think of your breath as an anchor. No matter what is happening around you, no matter how busy you are, no matter who surrounds you, you can always find your breath. It is a stable and secure part of you.
You breathe when you sleep and when you dream. You also breathe when you meditate. Breath is the life force that keeps your body and mind aware and healthy.
See also 5 Kid-Friendly Animal Poses to Introduce Children to Yoga
Step No. 3: Teach Kids This Breathing Meditation
Find a comfortable, quiet place. You can do this meditation anywhere and at any time. Turn off all devices and the television so that you are not distracted. This will last only one minute—you can do it!
Sit comfortably. If you feel OK doing so, close your eyes. If you prefer to keep your eyes open, that is okay, too. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Breathe in deeply so that your lungs fill up.
As you breathe in, feel how your stomach goes out. Pause for just one second. And now breathe out, blowing out slowly from your mouth.
On your next breath in, try to breathe in for three seconds. One. Two. Three. Now, pause for two seconds. One. Two. And breathe out for four seconds. One. Two. Three. Four. Find the rhythm that works best for you. Breathe in. Pause. Breathe out.
After one minute, or once you feel you are done, open your eyes (if they were closed) and say thank you to yourself for giving your brain and body this experience.
If you do this meditation regularly, it will become a habit and it will become a safe, happy time for you. You can always find your breath no matter where you are.
See also 5 Ways to Ground Yourself and Prepare to Teach Kids’ Yoga
Reprinted with permission from JUST BREATHE: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, and More © 2018 by Mallika Chopra, Running Press Kids
About the Author
Mallika Chopra is a mom, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and published author. Mallika has taught meditations to thousands of people and enjoys speaking to audiences around the world. This article is adapted from her most recent book: Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement and More. She is also the author of Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy.
A 5-Minute Meditation to Release Anxiety
Detach from anxiety and come back to the present.
Rina Deshpande shares her quick 5-minute meditation to release anxiety and let go of attachments.
See also What’s the Difference Between Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Appreciation?
Yoga Helped Me Face My Fears About Marriage Once and For All
I went to Mexico to rejuvenate, detox, and practice yoga with my boyfriend. Turns out, it would also be where I faced my fears about marriage.
It was a humid sunrise on a quiet, sandy beach in Tulum, Mexico. Despite our previous late-night mezcal tasting beneath the jungle leaves, my longtime boyfriend, Anush, had dragged me out of our tiny thatched-roof cabana at first light.
I adjusted my Beyoncé t-shirt and gray cotton shorts I’d worn to bed as I scanned the horizon. When I turned back to Anush, he was kneeling in the sand, holding a typed love letter and a tourmaline engagement ring.
“Will you marry me?” He asked.
I was so incredulous, I couldn’t speak. Feelings of doubt and darkness coursed through me, even though I’d always imagined a future with him: He was the one person who made me feel seen and cared for and uplifted. Still, I was reluctant to commit.
My parents went through a dramatic and corrosive divorce when I was 13, but the fallout had lasted long after. Most of the great pain in my life has come from marriage—and its ending. Marriage is the thing that has made me most likely to run, and least likely to trust
See also This Guided Meditation Will Inspire You to Live From Your Heart
As I stared at the man I love, these past traumas lit my body from head to toe with alarm bells. How could I marry anyone? But, as I looked at him, I calmed myself down. I silently told myself something I had learned in my yoga and mindfulness practice: Be here now. With that mantra, I slowly came back to the moment. With that mantra, I reminded myself where I was, who I was with—and most importantly, who I am now.
He waited patiently. I started to cry. Finally, I said, “Yes! Yes. Yes. Of course, yes.” He put the ring on my finger, and he held me while I cried. In that moment of “yes,” my world expanded.
We drank champagne and ate fruit in front of the ocean while the Tulum sun rose, pink and hot on our skin. I could hardly believe my good fortune—engaged in Tulum at sunrise. In that moment, instead of fear, I chose gratitude.
I saw a beachfront yoga class almost immediately after—Tulum, thankfully is crawling with them—and I asked my fiance(!), if he’d like to take it together. I was still shaking from the metamorphic decision I had made: unwavering commitment in the face of fear. I hoped familiar asana would steady me. Internally, I repeated my mantra as we walked into a large triangular wood pavilion, perched on a hidden natural cliff in the jungle, overlooking the beach as if it had been there forever.
See also 17 Poses to Prep for Mindful Meditation
Our yoga teacher, a young woman from Mexico City with a sing-song voice, instructed us to let go of our fears, to open our hearts, to experience the beauty of the moment we were in.
I was exactly where I needed to be. I still had my dark corners—I may always—but I could learn to live with them and still claim the life I wanted and deserve. I could live in the present and not in the past. I could be here now, soaking in the jungle, the ocean, in a magnificent place where afterward we would eat fresh coconut and bike carefree down the beach road and hike up Mayan ruins and speak a little Spanish and accept a glorious chocolate mole cake that said “Felicidades.”
As I looked over at the joyful, patient man doing yoga next to me, the waves crashed out ahead. I took his hand for just an instant, and he smiled. And then we raised our arms together, side-by-side, to salute the sun.
See also 7 Simple Ways to Call in More Joy—and Feel Less Stressed
About our author
Gina Tomaine is a yoga teacher and magazine editor in Philadelphia. Her work has been published in Prevention, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, and other publications. Learn more at gina-tomaine.com.
6 Yoga Teachers Share What They Never Travel Without
Yoga teachers weigh in on what they can’t travel without—plus, our favorite must-brings for every adventure.
1. Under Armour Cotton Fleece Logo Hoodie
“A sweatshirt with pockets and a big-enough hood that I can pull over my eyes and take a quick snooze or do a little yoga nidra on the plane.” —Rosie Acosta
2. Vuori Performance Jogger
5 Poses to Practice in a Cramped Airplane Seat
3. Magic Bullet Mini
“I love having the ability to make matcha or a smoothie wherever I go. It’s a game-changer.” —Eoin Finn
4. Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic Formula
5. Ujjaya Balance Bottle
See also This Energizing Matcha Lime Smoothie Will Help You Wake Up Without the Caffeine Spike
6. BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow
“A travel pillow that supports my neck is vital for falling asleep on the plane!” —Rina Jakubowicz
7. Mantisyoga Guru Backpack
8. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II
See also Yoga at the Airport: 5 Poses for a Long Layover
9. HITOP Classic Plaid Tartan Blanket Scarf
“An oversized scarf and my essential oils: I put the oils on my neck and wrap the scarf around me so I can push out airplane germs.” —Kathryn Budig
(from $14, amazon.com)
10. Pangea Organics Frank-incense Essential Oil Roller
“Frankincense helps me connect with my intuition and stay grounded while traveling—plus, it doubles as an organic insect repellent!” —Lauren Eckstrom
See also 5 Essential Oils Combos That Smell Better Than Your Favorite Candles
11. Yoga For Bad People Travel Mat
“My travel mat is great for practicing in tropical and humid climes, and it’s super yummy when thrown over a gym or hotel mat—extra cushion without the gunk!” —Heather Lilleston
12. Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Shoe
See also These Are the Sandals That Keep Traveling Yogis Happy
Gluten Free6 months ago
Wild Rice Vegan Stuffing with Roasted Sweet Potato & Apple
cashew cream7 months ago
Creamy Vegan Chick’n Rice Skillet Supper
blog friends7 months ago
Brandi Doming’s Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato Dip
Nutrition and Wellness7 months ago
Weekend Reading | The Full Helping
comfort food6 months ago
Creamy Vegan Skillet Lasagna | The Full Helping
Chakras6 months ago
6 Gifts Yogis Will Love, Inspired by the Sacral Chakra
Ayurveda6 months ago
11 Dos And Don'ts of Coping with Soreness After Yoga
2018 TOUR STOPS7 months ago
Live Be Yoga: We Joined 80 Yoga Classes and Conversations, and Here's What We Learned