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Breathing exercises that will help you relax in any situation
There are so many breathing exercises to potentially choose from when you want to bring change to the body. Some bring heat to the body. Others bring awareness to various energy centers. Some breathing techniques are used to purify the blood. There is alternate nostril breathing, breath of fire, relaxation breath, sunshine breathing. The list of breathing exercises for various intentions is almost endless. Some practices prefer if you exhale twice as long as the inhale. Others believe an even duration of long inhales and exhales is the way to go. We are taught breathing techniques in yoga, tai chi, meditation courses, anti-anxiety courses. It’s practically everywhere, but sometimes it can get so involved that we shut down and don’t bother to practice them.
Anxiety Ridden Breathing
If you do take the time to learn some basic breathing exercises, you will find that they can accomplish some wonderful things. The biggest benefit being the ability to focus. This is the foundation to meditation and any other mindful practice. Sit back and watch your breath. This allows your mind to focus on one thing. Suddenly all the mental chatter takes a back seat and you are hanging out in a precious space. The gift of simply being still and calm comes as you become an observer of the breath without attachment to the thoughts that come along.
When we find ourselves getting anxious our breathing becomes short and shallow. It crawls up high into the chest and simply catching your breath can become difficult. When we aren’t able to get enough oxygen, it can turn small bumps of anxiety into mountains. I can spot an anxious person a mile away just watching the way that they breathe. Using breath to guide you can change that road from anxious to to calm very quickly. Breathing effectively brings in more oxygen to the body. It gives a feeling of vitality immediately upon the intake of breath. The breath is such a precious gift and to practice breathing with intention can change your life.
Hand and Lip Postures
There are hand and lip postures that can aid in breathing with greater intention. But for this first step of the breathing exercises, I want to give you the most simple gift in the world. One way of breathing that can instantly help you to relax. It’s so simple that you might wave it off. Do it when you need to be reminded to be calm and I can promise you that it will help. Sitting for long periods in mindfulness may not be the goal for you right now. Maybe you want a shortcut for calming down and taking in that one special breath. The breath that gives you a break from your thoughts and from feeling off center. Well do I have good news for you!
The three body parts involved with breathing
There are three places in the body that must be engaged to get 100% full lung capacity. 80% comes from the diaphragm just below your ribs. 10% comes from the chest and sternum (bone in the middle of the chest) and the remaining 10% comes from the collar bones. When people get stressed out, only 10-20% of the breath capacity is in action. That is why you see their shoulders rise up and their chest stress. In order to access the diaphragm you have to breathe from a deeper space within yourself.
However, when your thoughts have entered the picture and the stresses have taken over, it’s really hard to breathe in a relaxed manner. To get a nice deep breath, you need to lower your shoulders and your body energy allowing access into the diaphragm. We need that oxygen to make way into our brains so that we can have that moment of clarity. That can help us re-boot our thoughts.
Breathing is as easy as 1,2,3
The easiest breathing exercises in the world are the ones that instantly gives you that free pass deep into the lungs full capacity. You can do this lying down, sitting, or standing up. You can do this anywhere and it always works. Start with your arms down at your sides. Now inhale, let your arms lead the way and lift them straight up in front of you. Raise them all the way up above your head. Reach your fingertips up to the sky. At the end of the inhale, the arms should be all the way up. Match the speed of movement to your breath. On the exhale, lower the arms straight down in front of you and back down to hanging by your sides. How simple is that?
Think to yourself “lift my arms up and breathe in, lower the arms down and breathe out…and repeat.” Without even having to give your body any further signals, the diaphragm fills with air as the arms moving up to the sky. This is followed by the chest and collar bones. During the exhale, it releases from top to bottom; collar bones, chest, diaphragm. This allows you to gain the full 100% lung capacity. It nourishes your brain with life giving air and allowing it to fully expire it on the way out. The term for this breath practice is a full yogic breath.
Breathing Changes Your Thought Patterns
Gaining access into fully utilizing the available air instantly changes the thought patterns. Allow the deep breaths to calm your mind and balance your body. Many teachings believe that you can cause or cure any illness through the breath. I have heard in some traditions that it is thought that you are born being given a certain number of breaths and the lengths in which you choose to take your breaths will determine your life space. While that idea is a little bit more intense than I would prefer to believe, it does support the idea of causing or curing your body with the breath.
Like I mentioned above, when our breath becomes short and shallow due to stress or illness, it takes a toll on our health (whether we want to acknowledge that or not). A person who breathes in distress patterns most of the time is more likely to suffer a stroke or heart disease. We need that oxygen in our blood and brain to maintain good health.
When there is breathing there is hope
We would benefit coming into a place where we can stop and appreciate our breath. It can be the driving force helping steer us into better health. We could all do well to learn to relax more often. Lifting your arms up and down and matching while the breath is such an easy start. Close your eyes when you do this and see how different you feel when you finish. I like to do ten rounds of this simple breathing exercise. Whats more, I do it in the morning while lying in bed. I do it when I find myself feeling overwhelmed or anxious. If I am feeling tired and off track I also do it. When I’m trying to get done but my mind is wandering. This breathing technique quickly brings you back to center. I like to do it at night as I prepare myself to fall asleep.
Where there is breath, there is hope. My hope for you today is that after reading this article, you stop and take notice of your breath and the breathing exercises you can practice. Give thanks for your breath, for your life, for your health. Become more able to focus inward with gratitude for all of your many blessings. And while the world right now is in chaos, step back and take a breath. Change your mind, change your life. Change your breath, change your reactions. Become part of the collective that is of love, simplicity and health. You deserve this. We all do. Life and breath are gifts and now more than ever is the time to own it.