The Breathing Circle

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The Breathing Circle: Learning through the Movement of the Natural Breath

“A clear, imaginative, and flexible blueprint for teachers of early learning, describing how to integrate and support the child’s developing sensory systems and the movement patterns that underpin child development.” —Anna Hubbard, Brain Gym® instructor and author.

Early childhood educators know that children love to be part of a learning circle. “Circle time” is an essential ingredient of Waldorf education. Circles offer participation in a larger whole and can foster the development of key sensory and neuromuscular faculties.

Nell Smyth developed “The Breathing Circle” techniques to help develop greater learning potential, to help integrate sensory and motor activities, and to help young children venture more freely into the social world while feeling fully grounded in body and mind.

“Our breath lives in the realm of movement. The quality of our breath changes, deepening and becoming more substantial through enjoyable movement. Different qualities of movement affect intimately how we breathe. As our breath flows more freely, the breath rhythm can come into greater balance. When this starts to take place, we can become refreshed and reinvigorated, feel more integrated and more aware of the boundary between ourselves and the rest of the world in which we participate. To breathe more deeply is to be more present and to be more present is to be awake with more resources available for learning.” (from the introduction)

The Breathing Circle brings practical new ways to understand how responsiveness, expression, and learning all depend on the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation, which carry children into the world and back into themselves.

The Breathing Circle offers movements, verses, and stories for children, working directly with their unfolding senses and the cycle of natural breath. These techniques can be used with children, from toddlers through seven years.

Here is an essential handbook for early years educators, preschooler parents, and caregivers, as well as storytellers, drama teachers, breathwork teachers and practitioners, and those involved in the many other somatic disciplines.

Published in partnership with the Alliance for Childhood.

About the Author

Nell Smyth is a learning specialist, teacher, and consultant with extensive background in theater, playwriting, and bodywork. She was born in England and has worked in England, Italy, Spain, and the U.S., where she now resides. Her academic education includes a B.A. in literature from Leeds University, an M.A. in Afro Caribbean Studies, as well as a postgraduate certificate in education, from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She also graduated from the Emerson College Rudolf Steiner teacher training program in England. Nell brings many years of experience as a Waldorf teacher. She has taught grades one through eight, and has been developing her work with very young children for several years.

Additional information

Weight 20 oz
Dimensions 7.5 × 0.5 × 9.5 in




October 2006






Hawthorn Press


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