A Calm Body and Mind are Just a Breath Away

We live in a stressful world where everyone is stressed about everything. It is human nature to resist stress and try to avoid it. We try all kinds of things to do that, but what so many of us don’t realize is that all we have to do is take a deep breath. Deep breathing is our body's mechanism of relieving stress easily, naturally, and cheaply. Here are some breathing techniques that you can practice to relieve stress.

Equal Breathing

Our body is all about balance. Therefore, it can benefit from balanced breathing as well. Practice equal breathing by inhaling to the count of four, then exhaling to the count of four. With practice, you may be able to count up to six or even eight on equal breaths. Equal breathing helps reduce stress and increase focus.

Equal breathing is useful anytime but is most beneficial as you prepare for sleep. It will help clear your mind of the stressful thoughts that are preventing you from falling asleep easily.

Abdominal Breathing This breathing exercise is performed by placing one hand on your chest and other on your belly. Take a deep breath and make sure your diaphragm inflates, not your chest. This inflation should be enough to make your lungs stretch. Try to achieve six to ten deep breaths over the course of one minute and repeat this activity for ten minutes. Abdominal breathing will instantly reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. Progressive RelaxationProgressive relaxation helps in alleviating the tension from your whole body. Start by closing your eyes. Focusing on each group of muscles, alternately contract and release them for two to three seconds. Follow the order of muscle groups. For example, if you start with your toes, work your way up progressively through your feet, legs, etc. until you reach your heart. Maintain deep and slow breaths.

Alternate Nostril BreathingThis breathing practice is popular among yogis. According to them, this method of breathing will balance the left and right sides of the brain. Start by sitting in a comfortable yet meditative position. Close your right nostril by putting your right thumb over it. Take a deep breath from your left nostril. When you reach the peak of the breath, close your left nostril with your right ring finger. Remove your thumb from the right side of your nose and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this process for a while and you will soon feel awake and focused. Because of this, avoid practicing this technique at night, when you are trying to calm yourself for sleep.

Skull Shining Breath As the name suggests, this technique will make you more active and keep lethargy at bay. Using this breathing exercise, you can warm your body and wake up your brain like a morning cup of coffee. Therefore, it is recommended at the start of the day. Start with a slow, long inhale followed by a quick, powerful exhale using your lower belly. As you become comfortable with this practice, you can increase your pace.Keywords: calm body and mind, breathing techniques, equal breathing, abdominal breathing, progressive relaxation, alternate nostril breathing, skull shining breath.

Want to learn more about the Breath? I will be hosting a "Power of Breath" workshop at Serenity Yoga Studio. Sunday, October 1st.

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