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Puku breathing

Our hā to a large degree controls how we feel, and will either support us to calm, or to escalate. Our hā is the most effective ways to manage big feelings, here's how...

Firstly, the science...

In addition to its physiological benefits which support the heart, puku breathing has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. The deep and slow breathing associated with this technique activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for our tinana rest and digest response. This helps to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and promote relaxation.

The cool thing about puku breathing is it's actually associated with a reduction in stress and anxiety. It’s the best thing we can do to support ourselves to relax and to fall asleep!

Why this activity?

Puku breathing is a great way to relax and de-stress. When we get stressed or anxious, we tend to take shallow breaths, which only adds to the tension. But when we focus on taking deep breaths from our puku, it sends a signal to our brain to calm down and relax. If things are feeling a bit hōhā or hectic for your tamariki, make this your go-to. 

You'll need

  • Some space and your awesome tamariki

What to do

Puku breathing is really easy to do. 

  1. Ask tamariki to find  a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.

  2. Ask them to put one hand on their puku and one on their chest.

  3. Guide them to breathe in slowly and deeply through their nose. Making sure their hand on their puku moves out, but their hand on your chest stays still.

  4. Slowly count a breath in for 4 and breath out for 6

  5. Repeat this a few times until you can see tamariki feel calm and relaxed.

Remember that breathing can be repeated any time. It’s a great way to settle and calm tamariki. We know some kaiako who will use this in the morning and then first thing after the kai break. 

Te hā e te whetū

This is a great way to energise tamariki, but also keep them calm and focussed.

This comes to us from tamariki at Te Akau Ki Pāpāmoa, where tamariki were designing their own breathing activities!

  1. Ask tamariki to stand up with their feet spread wide apart and their arms out to the side (in the shape of a whetū)

  2. Now, as they breathe in, ask tamariki to bring their arms and legs in so that they are close together, standing tall and straight with their arms by their sides. 

  3. As they exhale slowly, ask them to spread their legs back out, at the same time also bringing their arms back up to create the whetū shape again.

  4. Then as they inhale, again, slowly bring their arms down and legs back together.

  5. As they exhale, you could ask the to imagine the star expanding, and with each exhale, it grows larger and brighter. At the same time they bring their arms up slowly and smoothly like they are reaching for the stars around them.

  6. Repeat this until tamariki seem relaxed, but more energised and positive. You might end by asking tamariki on their final breath to reach up for the whetū


We love the idea that we (humans) are created from whetū and we know many tamariki will too. If you want to explore this further, try this fun link from NASA that explains it way better than we would!  

Kaiako card

To make things easier, refer to or print the kaiako card.

Whānau engagement

We've created this Remembering to Puku Breathe worksheet for tamariki to colour and take home.

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum 

  • Personal Health and physical development: A1 - Personal growth and development

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