Pranayama, yogic breathing, is a wonderful way to focus and balance energy. Being aware of one’s breath is a way of pulling in scattered energy and mindfully focusing it. This is a great game for teenagers to take advantage of this simple technique by playing it whenever they need to center themselves and regroup. This game helps to deliberately focus attention so that you become aware of being present in each moment. It also helps teens become aware of how easy it is to get distracted and how to get back on track.
In this game you pay attention to your breathing for the next ten breaths. This is not purposeful, controlled breathing, but an awareness exercise of simply observing the breath.
On the first inhale, say to yourself, “I’m breathing in one.” As the body exhales, mentally observe, “I’m breathing out one.” On the next inhale say, “I’m breathing in two,” followed by, “I’m breathing out two,” and so on.
You’ll probably notice that different breaths have different rhythms. Sometimes they will follow at regular intervals, sometimes there may be long gaps between breaths. Some are shallow, others deep. All you do is observe and name the number.
This is much easier said than done.You’ll probably go on mind trips, getting distracted by passing thoughts. That’s okay. Congratulate yourself on noticing the detour and get back on track starting at the beginning: “I’m breathing in one.”
The fun and challenging part is to see how far you can go before you mentally tune out. Some days it may be the fourth breath that you can’t get past before forgetting what you were doing. Other days it will be easy to focus and you may go for longer than “Ten Breaths.”
Sensory Awareness: While waiting for the body to breathe in or out, use that moment to notice what your senses are experiencing. Hear the sounds. Feel the temperature. Notice the air movements. Become aware and part of the environment.
Counting Steps: If sitting won’t work for you try going on a walk and counting each step. Become aware of the sensation of your feet as they push off from the ground and then land again. How your body transfers weight from one side to the other. Feel your arms swing by your sides. Concentrating on your steps is calming and helps you to stay present with the walking experience.