Monday, April 2, 2012
There is nothing more natural than breathing. It's the first thing we do when we're born. It's the last thing we stop doing when we die. Somewhere between the two we change the way we do it. Watch a baby and you'll see the belly expand on the inhale. Ask an adult to take a deep breath and you'll see the chest expand and shoulders raise instead. I'm not sure why this happens. What I am sure of though, is that oxygen is essential to life and health and our habit of shallow breathing robs us of this vital energy source.
I offer you two really simple breathing exercises. One to help you relax when you're feeling stressed. The other to energize you when you're dragging. For both exercises focus on where the breath goes. Visualize the air going to the bottom of the lungs first to expand the belly, then filling the top of the lungs last. Do this in a relaxed way - don't force the breath in any way - just allow it to flow.
Inhale and exhale slowly through the nose. Count to be sure each inhale and each exhale are the same length. Start with a count of 4, then as your breathing slows down and your body starts to relax, increase the count to 6, and then 8. Do this for 3 - 5 mins. whenever you're feeling stressed. You can also use this technique as a sleep aid - continuing breathing like this until you slumber off.
Inhale slowly through the nose, exhale quickly through the mouth. Count to be sure each inhale is twice as long as each exhale. (Try a 6 and 3 count to start and adjust to what feels comfortable.) Be sure that you fully exhale each time, your lungs should be empty before you start the next inhale. Do this for 3 - 5 mins. whenever you need an energy boost.