SEL 101 – Breathing Exercises and Meditation

Breathing. It’s so simple, yet so integral to human life. Often we don’t think about the fact that we’re breathing until we exercise or are distressed. But what if we did?

Studies show that conscious breathing, meditation and mindfulness are linked to decreased levels of stress, helping to control emotions, and slowing down the heart rate. This is why conscious breathing is a huge part of Social Emotional Learning. By teaching kids breathing techniques, they learn how to regulate their emotions. Once I started incorporating breathing breaks into my classroom, it changed everything.

Being an elementary music teacher, I see my students once a week for 45 minutes. I’ve noticed that every class comes in with different dynamics, energies and moods. Sometimes they are perfectly calm, but other days come into class rowdy, tense or upset. If they are particularly energetic and talkative, I’ll turn on a guided meditation video for about 5 minutes and it almost always calms them down. Especially if I meditate with them. It’s important to lead by example! You could even guide your own meditation, or use an app such as Headspace or Calm.

Here’s the video I use in my classroom:

According to YourTherapySource.com, the top 10 benefits of deep breathing are that it:

  • Decreases stress
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Helps you to remain calm
  • Strengthens sustained attention
  • Sharpens the ability to focus and learn
  • Slows the heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps to control your emotions
  • Promotes appropriate social behaviors
  • Encourages happiness


And because we strongly believe in the benefits of teaching kids to be mindful through deep breathing, we created a “Breathing Song” that incorporates 4 animal breaths – butterfly, crocodile, pufferfish and dolphin.

Along with the song, we also have lesson plans and activities that you can find as part of our online curriculum SEL Core or on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Another amazing way to teach breathing techniques in your classroom is to incorporate yoga. We use Cosmic Yoga a lot in my class because it is tailored to young kids. But with the older students, you could use Yoga with Adriene or guide them through yoga pose flashcards. We have some yoga flashcards in our SEL curriculum, which you can receive for free through the month of August by signing up for our newsletter.

We appreciate you reading our blog and would love to continue the SEL conversation with you! So come hang out with us on social media (Instagram & Facebook) so that we can continue learning & sharing together.

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