Life can get the best of us sometimes. Hence, those days where we are just “stressed out” from trying to keep up!
One of the best ways deal with the stress or anxiety you may feel during the course of your day is….TO BREATHE!
It’s such a simple solution, yet we all forget at some point to just sit for a moment and breathe. Controlled breathing not only keeps the mind and body functioning at their best, it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation and help us de-stress.
Many experts encourage using the breath as a means of increasing awareness, mindfulness or finding that elusive state of Zen.
But keep in mind, there are time-tested techniques to use in order for it to work effectively. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but with some practice and dedication you will realize the benefits sooner than you think. The following are 3 different breathing exercises from beginner, intermediate to advanced that you can do anyplace that will help keep calm and carry on.
How it’s done: To start, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four — all through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Got the basic 4 counts down? Try six to eight counts per breath with the same goal in mind: calm the nervous system, increase focus and reduce stress.
When it works best: Anytime, anyplace — but this is one technique that’s especially effective before bed. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, this breath can help take your mind off the racing thoughts, or whatever might be distracting you from sleep.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
How it’s done: This breath is said to bring calm and balance, and unite the right and left sides of the brain. Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Simply continue the pattern!
When it works best: Crunch time, or whenever it’s time to focus or energize. This great to do if you need a boost during the day to feel more awake.
SKULL SHINING BREATH
How it’s done: Ready to brighten up your day from the inside out? This one begins with a long, slow inhale, followed by a quick, powerful exhale generated from the lower belly. Once comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.
When it works best: When it’s time to wake up, warm up or start looking on the brighter side of things. “It’s pretty abdominal-intensive,” Pacheco says, “but it will warm up the body, shake off stale energy and wake up the brain.” If alternate nostril breathing is like coffee, consider this a shot of espresso, she says.
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