On the Sixth Day of Well-Mas, Santa gave to me Six Breaths a-Breathing
“Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.” – Andrew Weil, M.D. Since breathing is something we can regulate why not use it to our advantage to help reduce stress! Irregular breathing can result in the nervous system being out of balance and has been shown to be related to high blood pressure. We all know breathing is important as it provides your body with 99% of your entire oxygen and energy supply. Here are some breathing exercises you can try and tips on how to regulate your breathing!
1. Stimulating Breathing – The goal of this breathing exercise is to raise vital energy and increase alertness. • Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keep your mouth closed but relaxed. Your breaths in and out should be equal in duration, but as short as possible. • Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm. Breathe normally after each cycle. • Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. Each time you practice the Stimulating Breath, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute.
2. Relaxing Breathing – This exercise is very simple and can be done anywhere. Try doing this at least two times a day but not too frequently. It can be used to calm you down or help you fall asleep at night • Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. • Hold your breath for a count of seven. • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
3. Breath Counting – This is another simple technique and is used often in Zen practice. • Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. • To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale. • The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.” • Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation. • Don’t count higher than “five,” and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “8,” or even “15.” • Try to do 10 minutes of this as a form of meditation.
4. Belly Breathing – This exercise is meant to deepen breathes and cleanse the lungs, as well as increasing energy and relieving tension. • Lie flat on your back. You may use pillows under your neck or knees so that it is more comfortable. • Place your hands on your stomach, at the base of your ribcage and take a slow, deep breath, allowing your fingertips to separate slightly. • For best results, practice this exercise for five minutes.
5. Complete Breath • Sit up straight. Exhale. • Inhale and, at the same time, relax the belly muscles. Feel as though the belly is filling with air. • After filling the belly, keep inhaling. Fill up the middle of your chest. Feel your chest and rib cage expand. • Hold the breath in for a moment, then begin to exhale as slowly as possible. • As the air is slowly let out, relax your chest and rib cage. Begin to pull your belly in to force out the remaining breath. • Close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing and relax. • Practice about 5 minutes.
6. Pursed Lip Breathing – If you have shortness of breath this exercise can help you relax and get your breathing back to normal. • Breathe in slowly through your nose for 1 count • Purse your lips as if you were going to whistle • Breathe out gently through pursed lips for 2 slow counts (breathe out twice as slowly as you breathed in). Let the air escape naturally- don’t force the air out of your lungs • Keep doing pursed lip breathing until you’re no longer short of breath