Learning how to breathe properly can benefit your physical and emotional health over the long term. For example, deep abdominal breathing can improve circulation, boost ventilation and relieve anxiety and stress. Bubble blowing provides a playful way, particularly for children, to become versed in various breathing techniques.
According to "Cancer Symptom Management" by Connie Henke Yarbro, pursed-lip breathing is a technique used to help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This disease commonly affects heavy smokers. While exhaling slowly through pursed lips, you can apply pressure to the back of your throat. Because the pressure in your lungs enables your airways to remain open, this breathing technique can prevent or slow down the collapse of your small airways, according to the article "Breathing and Relaxation Techniques" on the ConnectiCare website. It can also boost the volume of air that you draw into your lungs, lower your respiratory rate and alleviate shortness of breath. You can blow bubbles to learn how to breathe with pursed lips. When blowing the bubble, control your exhalation so as to create the bubble without exploding it.
Your diaphragm is the engine behind deep, or abdominal, breathing. When you contract your diaphragm, your abdomen expands and forces air into your lungs. Deep breathing improves circulation, encouraging the flow of blood back to the heart. According to the article "Health Hint: Breathing Exercises" on the American Medical Student Association's website, it also increases the flow of lymph, which helps to prevent infection.
You can teach abdominal breathing to young children by having them blow bubbles, according to “Cognitive Therapy Techniques for Children and Adolescents: Tools for Enhancing Practice” by Robert Friedberg. Bubbles provide visual cues. While blowing bubbles, children can adjust their breathing rate accordingly. For example, if the bubbles are popping out of the wand too quickly or erratically, a child can soften an exhalation to create more fluid bubbles.
Calm or Slow Breathing
Calm or slow breathing is a form of abdominal breathing that targets a child’s anxiety. Even adults tend to take short, shallow breaths when anxious or stressed. Because the body isn’t getting enough oxygen, this type of chest breathing can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Once a child has learned deep breathing, you can teach her how to slow her breathing. Have a child breathe in on a count of four, hold her breath for a count of four and then breathe out on a count of four. However, some children have problems with the counting method. You can have the child practice bubble blowing instead. Tell the child if she slows her breath down, she can produce more bubbles with one breath.
During chest physiotherapy sessions, children with cystic fibrosis can play breathing games. By learning how to breathe in different ways, children with cystic fibrosis can boost ventilation and reduce secretions from their lungs, according to the article "‘Breathing Games’ for Young Children with Cystic Fibrosis" on the Cambridge University Hospitals' website. A favorite game is blowing bubbles through an O-shaped mouth. The child blows three or four times, using deep breaths. Another game is to place a straw in a half-full glass of water. Have the child blow softly through the straw and make many bubbles. The child should repeat the exercise three to four times.
- ConnectiCare: Breathing and Relaxation Techniques
- Cognitive Therapy Techniques for Children and Adolescents: Tools for Enhancing Practice; Robert D. Friedberg et al.
- Emotional and Behavioral Problems of Young Children: Effective Interventions in the Preschool and Kindergarten Years; Gretchen A. Gimpel and Melissa Holland
- AnxietyBC: How to Teach Your Child Calm Breathing
- Cancer Symptom Management; Connie Henke Yarbro
- Cambridge University Hospitals: ‘Breathing Games’ for Young Children with Cystic Fibrosis
- American Medical Student Association: Health Hint: Breathing Exercises
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.