Inhale and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation and God remains with you. Exhale and you approach God. Hold the exhalation and surrender to God. — Krishnamacharya
Over worked, under-slept, and feeling pressure like whoa? There are plenty of ways to find calm – without investing large amounts of time and money. Turns out all you need is a pair of healthy lungs, your breath, and 10 minutes or less.
Breathing exercises keep your mind and body functioning at their best. It can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation, and help you stress less.
Here are 7 breathing techniques:
- Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”. This breathing technique is known to calm the nervous system, increase focus, and reduce stress. If performed before sleep, Sama Vritti can help take your mind off of racing thoughts, allowing one to fall asleep easier. All through the nose inhale for 4 counts, then exhale for 4 counts.
- Abdominal Breathing Technique. With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath through the nose, ensuring that the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create as much stretch in the lungs. The goal: 6 to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure.
- Progressive Relaxation. This technique can be performed lying down or sitting. To nix tension from head to toe, close the eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for 5 counts each. Start with the feet and toes, and then move up to the knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyes. During tensing of the muscles breathe in slowly through the nose for 5 counts and then during the relaxing of the muscles breathe out slowly through the mouth. If the breathing feels uncomfortable then tone it down to just a few seconds.
- Nadi Shodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”. This technique brings calm, balance and unites the right and left sides of the brain. Start in a comfortable meditative pose. Hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deep through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, than exhale through the right nostril. Repeat the pattern on the opposite side, closing off the left nostril, inhaling deep through the right nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the right nostril with the ring finger, thea exhale through the left nostril. Repeat the process up to 10 minutes. This technique is energizing and will make you feel more awake.
- Guided Visualization. Google guided visualization or guided imagery. The recording will guide through breathing exercise to help replace negative thoughts with pleasant positive images. Guided visualization helps put you in a place you want to be, rather than letting your mind go to the internal dialogue that is stressful.
- Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”. Ready to brighten up your day from the inside out? This technique begins with a long, slow inhale followed by a quick, powerful exhale generated from the lower belly, all through the nose. Once comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale every 1 to 2 seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.
- Four Square Breathing. This technique is an excellent method for relaxation. We commonly use it during the B.E.S.T. technique. Sit comfortably and take a slow breath in through the nostrils for 4 counts, then hold inhalation for 4 counts, exhale slowly over 4 counts through the mouth, then hold exhalation for 4 counts and repeat for a few minutes.
A word about the air we breathe.
The air inside a home is more toxic than the air outside. We recommend that you purchase an air filtration unit. It is well worth it. Affordable models are available on Amazon or EBay. We particularly like the OION units on EBAY for around $160.
Replace toxic household products with non-toxic products. Go to this site for more information: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
Here is a list of 13 common household plants that neutralize air pollutants. 15-20 of these wonderful plants will purify an 1800 square foot home.
- AGLAONEMA treubii – Chinese Evergreen
- CHLORPHYTUM comosum Vittatum – Spider or Airplane plants
- DRACAENA fragens – Cornplant
- DRACAENA marginata
- FICUS benjamina – Weeping Fig
- HEDERA helix – English Ivy
- NEPHROLEPIS ex. Bostoniensis – Boston Fern
- ORCHIDACEAE – Orchid,
- PHILODENDRONS, especially oxycardium – Heart-leaf
- PHOENIX roebelenii- Dwarf/Pigmy Date Palm
- SYNGONIUM podophyllum – Arrowhead plant,
- SANSEVIERIA, SCINDAPSUS aureus – Devil’s Ivy, including Silver Pothos, Pothos Gold and Pothos Marble Queen
- SPATHIPHYLLUM clevelandii – Peace-lily, White Flag