3 Breaths for the 3-Year-Old in Each of Us

Learning how to mindfully breathe was tough for me as an adult. My mind tugged on the rest of me to knock-this-off and return to old habits of reacting rapidly rather than responding responsibly. The key that unlocked my paths to pranayama first and foremost was counting.

One, two, three.

Three, two, one.

One, two, three.

Three, two, one.

I admit it. It felt a bit silly for my adult mind—accompanied by its childlike or untrained response system—to count silently. Yet this simplicity is perhaps why counting was one of the best tools for me to step onto the paths of pranayama, or the art of how to breathe mindfully.

Uno, dos, tres.

Tres, dos, uno.

Uno, dos, tres.

Tres, dos, uno.

After years of experimenting, counting breath is a form of pranayama I teach to yogis of all ages, including kids, teens and adults. While evoking counting may seem overly-simple, in my experiences that is precisely why it works: a familiar, safe element is offered in tandem with something new. This is part of an educational theory known as constructivism and is one of the foundational educational philosophies we use in Yogiños: Yoga for Youth classes.

We also use different languages, specifically, Spanish, English and Sanskrit. While a book could be inserted here providing research and data as to why we weave different languages, one reason is based on constructivism.

Many youth today join our classes with ranges of familiarity or full comprehension of another or various languages. Accordingly, we use a trilingual yoga approach to simultaneously provide opportunities for yogis of all ages to physically, mentally and emotionally draw from their core knowledge and they expand outward into new experiences and understandings.

Uno, Dos, Tres/Eka, Dwi, Trik./One, Two, Three?

Instructions and discussions:

  • Inhale through your nose for count of 3
  • Exhale out of your mouth for count of 3
  • Repeat several times.
  • What feels easy? What feels more challenging?
  • Notice how it may be hard at first to exhale slowly, then how good it feels to develop control.
  • Where can we use this breath when we feel out of control?

Try counting in different languages:

  • English: one, two, three
  • Spanish: uno, dos, tres
  • Sanskrit: eka, dwi, trk
  • French: un, deux, trois
  • German: eins, zwei, drei
  • Japanese: ichi, ni, san

What languages can you share to help us expand more fully into new experiences and understandings?

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