Last year when I was teaching Spanish, I became a fan of brain breaks. According to Dr. Lori Desautels: “They refocus our neural circuitry with either stimulating or quieting practices that generate increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, where problem solving and emotional regulation occur.”
I started to use brain breaks because the length of teaching time was too long (a class would last 40 minutes or in the worst case scenario, I would end up teaching a double period of 80 minutes!) and my students desperately needed a break to move around and refresh. Secondly, because I desperately needed a break too!!! Now, to me having a brain break is really about getting out of seats and moving around, stretching the body. The brain needs a break and the body needs to move! So I usually tend to do yoga poses and breathing exercises.
The other day, when I was doing my morning yoga practice with Adriene (yes, you know the #yogaeverydamnday !), the lion’s breath reminded me of my teenage Spanish learners! I remembered how shocked they were at first to see me, their serious teacher, sticking my tongue out with my eyes wide opened looking at the ceiling. They must have thought I got crazy! They became even more anxious when I asked them to do the same!!! Soon enough, they were laughing out loud and releasing tons of energy because everybody looked like a fool! And actually some of the benefits of this pose are:
- Relieves tension in the face and chest
- Improves circulation of blood to the face
- Keeps your eyes healthy by stimulating the nerves
- Helps prevent sore throat, asthma, and other respiratory ailments
As we are coming to the end of the school year, I thought this particular brain break would be useful if your students are getting excited and unfocused.
When I explain the exercise or pose, I always keep in the target language. In that case I would tell my students in Spanish: “Ahora, vamos a hacer la respiración del león. Abrid la boca, tirad la lengua. Inspirad y espirad.” My yoga breaks became so successful that one day, a grade 7 boy asked me for it: “Señora Ayel, respiramos ahora“. I was so happily surprised. Not only, the boy wanted a break, he had also remembered how to describe it in Spanish!!!
What about you? Are you a fan of brain breaks too? What do you usually do?