Just Breathe: Mallika Chopra Talks About the Power of Mindfulness

“My favorite exercise for kids is to just breathe,” says mindfulness expert Mallika Chopra. 

Mallika Chopra is an entrepreneur and a leading mindfulness expert. She has written eight books, including Just BreatheJust Feel, and Just Be You (Running Press Kids). Her work empowers children and their families to cultivate peace and happiness through meditation, mindfulness, and movement.

Chopra also serves as an adviser for Stillwater. The award-winning animated series debuted on Apple TV+ in 2020. It’s based on the Zen book series by Jon J. Muth (Scholastic Press). In Muth’s rendering, Stillwater is a giant panda who is also very wise. He helps children in his neighborhood address their emotional health by using easy mindfulness exercises.  

A brand-new album written and performed by Chopra extends the lessons of the books and TV series. Called Stillwater Meditations, it provides calming music composed by Sol Rising and Steven Argila and breathing exercises for children and their families.

Chopra is the mother of two children and the daughter of Deepak Chopra, a renowned expert on alternative health. I recently spoke with her via video to learn more about the benefits of mindfulness. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How do children benefit from developing mindfulness skills?

Like adults, children have a lot going on in their lives. We can all get really busy. It's helpful to have tools when you’re stressed, nervous, sad, or angry. Mindfulness practices help us get through different phases of our lives. If children learn mindfulness early on, it can help them as they grow older and become adults.

What are your favorite mindfulness exercises for kids?

My favorite exercise for kids is to just breathe. I have an entire book on it [Just Breathe]. Basically, it’s the power of taking a deep breath in and then out. I love reminding kids that they have their breaths, which they can always find and use to calm down and feel stronger and more inspired.


Mika at the library with a display of Chopra’s books

Do you think access to social media is harming children’s mental health?

We know that social media can affect everyone's mental health. But for our children, I think we have to be careful and responsible as adults. We need to find ways to not restrict it, but to mentor our kids in healthy ways to use social media.

Can you tell us about the Stillwater TV series and Stillwater Meditations, the new album?

The TV series is so sweet. Through their experiences, the children in the show share challenges that viewers may have. It's just beautiful, and I feel lucky to be a part of it.  

I also love that we’re sharing mindfulness techniques with kids in different ways. I’m used to doing that by going into classrooms and writing books. I love that we now have a TV show and a music album and can reach kids in new ways.

For the album, we looked at some of the lessons from the TV series and books. I then wrote new meditations or exercises around those lessons. It’s accompanied by beautiful music. The album allows people to play the guided tracks on a phone or in the classroom for a three- to five-minute mindfulness exercise or meditation.

How do you feel about schools helping children develop mindfulness skills?

I’m so excited that schools now have this focus. I think it's really important, and it’s not that hard to do some of these techniques. If we can give kids—and adults—easy techniques to help them deal with different situations, that’s core to education. Education is obviously about mastering academic material, but it’s also about growing into an adult who is able to navigate the world, and these techniques will always help.

Do you have any advice for schools and/or families who want to spend more time on mindfulness?

Every school is different, and parents and communities are different. It’s up to those communities to figure out what works best for their children. But we should remember that adults teach by example. Our kids learn from us, so if adults learn these practices, children will grow to do them, too.


Chopra is a consultant on Stillwater, an animated TV series streaming on Apple TV+.




Photos top to bottom: courtesy of Mallika Chopra; courtesy of the author; Apple TV+