Before I started practicing yoga I never really thought about how I breathed. In my first few yoga classes when practicing some breathing exercises I realised I was reverse breathing some of the time – on my inhale I was drawing my belly in rather than filling it up. Breath is essential to our lives and breathing in the proper way is so beneficial for us – it decreases feelings of stress and anxiety, helps us be present in the moment, increases our energy levels and lowers our blood pressure.
Here’s a simple but effective breathing exercise to do at any time of the day. It only take 5 minutes!
– Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. You can sit with your back to a wall so you are as comfortable as possible and/or on a cushion.
– Let your hands rest on your knees palms face down, with a long spine, relaxed shoulders and soft face.
– Let your eyelids become heavy. Notice how your mind/body feels at this moment in time.
– Begin to tune int your breath, starting to focus on your inhale and exhale. Now take a big inhale through the nose and a big exhale out through the mouth, repeat a couple more times. Then let the breath become easy and relaxed, beginning to let your body settle and becoming present in the moment. If thoughts arise keep bringing your awareness back to your breath. Continue to breath easy. On the inhale the belly rises and the diaphragm goes down, on the exhale the diaphragm rises.
– Now begin to count the breaths. Inhale for the count of 3, exhale for the count of 4 – starting to slow down the exhale. Continue with this for a few minutes. Then let the breath return to normal.
– Continue sitting still. Notice any subtle changes to how you feel in your body and your mind.
– When you are ready, slowly open the eyes, clasp the hands in front and take a nice big inhale reaching the arms up over the head. Exhale, release the arms and smile. Don’t rush to finish, come out of your cross-legged pose slowly and sit still for a few minutes before returning to your day.
Namaste, have a good day!