Because respiration is normally an unconcious function, it takes a concerted effort towards gaining conscious control over the process.
Tutoring ideally begins in helping children to understand the basic muscular controls that are associated with breathing and as adults, revise what we may already know in gaining control of the intercostal muscles, abdominal muscles and upper torso.
We all respond well to the counting method to increase our lung capacity. Children are best encouraged to start with a simple count, say of 4 for inhalation and the same count in exhaling. Yoga students are familiar with this known as the Rhythm Breath, the basis of the classical approach to Pranayama which incorporates the additional factor of retention of the breath or Kumbhaka.
Teaching children about their potential for breath control is important, particularly if they are suffering from the regrettably common complaint of asthma. Gradually increasing the exercises that involve a degree of retention, employing sound to increase capacity to exhale, and sniffing in stages to increase inhalation makes their learning enjoyable.
Although the prone position – lying down – is often chosen for teaching elementary breathing exercises, most students who can assume a comfortable seated position are advised to sit upright and practise the range of breathing exercises and disciplines of Pranayama.