Every day we can be grateful for one thing that every human has in common- our breath. We can always turn to our breath in any situation or circumstance. Once I began to learn various breathing techniques throughout my yoga certification course, I was introduced to a more relaxed and present lifestyle. Throughout my daily life, I take these techniques with me on and off of the mat. Whether I spend 2 minutes, 30 minutes or an entire yoga class focusing on my breathing, I am left feeling grounded, mindful and am more likely to make choices that I will enjoy in life. Breathing techniques can help our minds to slow down, reduce anxiety, increase energy levels, improve digestion, improve blood flow, improve posture and help us to detoxify the body. Today I will share the steps of a breathing technique that you can try for yourself!
I do want to remind you that breathing techniques, the practice of meditation and yoga are a continuous practice. If this does not work for you today, do not be discouraged, as you continue to practice, you will develop the skills and understand what works best for you. Over time, you will strengthen control over the mind that will assist you to develop a centered, grounded and present state of mind.
Begin by allowing yourself to start by simply just noticing your natural breathing.
Notice the flow of your breath, your natural inhales and exhales.
Begin to check in with yourself. Noticing where you are, how you are feeling, the different thoughts you are experiencing, etc.
Begin to notice your physical body – where you may be holding tension or discomfort. Send your exhales to these areas and imagine your entire body becoming softer with each breath.
As you continue to breathe, with each exhale letting go into the present moment a little bit more.
You may begin to notice the rise of your chest as you inhale and as you exhale you may notice your belly begin to fill up (if you’d like you may place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly to become more connected to the breath).
Begin to focus on counting up to a certain number as you inhale (for instance I usually like to count to 4 but everyone is different, whatever works for you!). Next as you exhale counting to one higher than your inhale (if you inhale counting up to 4, your exhale would be counting to 5).
It is usually most effective for me to continue this process for about 3 to 5 minutes (BUT there is no “right” or “wrong” – listen to your body!).
Once you have taken the time to allow yourself to focus on your breath, your body will begin to feel more centered and grounded into the present moment.
You may notice your mind begin to wander off and that is okay, allow yourself to notice this and bring attention back to each inhale and exhale. You may also think of a specific word as you inhale such as “relaxation” and as you exhale “stress”.
Once you have tried this, take a mental note of how you were feeling before and how you feel afterwards. Even if it is the slightest bit more relaxed, your body is thanking you for taking the time to take care of it!