Improve respiration for better behaviour

 Recently, I read an article published by the about teachers from various cities in New Jersey, incorporating yoga in their lessons and they’ve seen distinct transformations in their students. In fact, yoga has become part of some school’s curriculum or school programs to manage students’ behavior issues. I am excited when I came across this article as I have intentions to guide my students in deep breathing and retention of breath. Why deep breathing exercises? This is because:

  • It helps us to be more aware of proper breathing techniques which emphasize the movement from the diaphragms and not only the chest.
  • It helps to bring more oxygen into our lungs and encourages “full oxygen exchange… to slow down our heartbeat and stabilize our blood pressure” (Harvard Health Publications). When more oxygen is brought into our lungs, it supports more external respiration to happen.
  • It helps to build our stamina for staying focused and aids “in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations” (Harvard Health Publications).
  • It encourages our body to release endorphins and thereby relief any stress or tensions that the body is feeling (
  • It helps to detox our organs and promote blood flows as more oxygen is brought to cellular levels ( When more oxygen is made available for gas exchange in the cells, it helps to create more energy for our bodies.

I believe that with all the benefits of deep breathing, it could help my students be less jumpy and more alert during lesson time.

Today, I had an opportunity to try out this exercise for ten minutes with my class. During the first attempt, many students were not following my instructions and they were obviously not used to the idea of doing breathing exercises. So I paused to explain to them the benefits of deep breathing and highlighted that we are training ourselves to stay more attentive and focused with this simple exercise. In the second attempt, I asked the students to be seated comfortably with feet placed on the floor and eyes closed. I encourage them to listen consciously and act upon the given instructions. There were some improvements as fewer students were fidgeting this time round. Though we could complete only a few cycles in this round, students seemed calmer and at ease when I asked them to blink their eyes open for the next class. Aligned with the online articles, I observed that deep breathing has an immediate effect on their emotional state. Needless to say, I would need to practice deep breathing consistently with my class over a period of time, before I could witness its effectiveness in helping them behave better during lessons. Nevertheless, I felt that this was a good start. 🙂

Kai Yueh