By: Johnathan A. Ertwine, B. A.
This lovely weekend I am being mindful of my breathing and focusing on the things in my life that I control like my breath and my body. Even in these crazy I am still in charge of me and that is my power! I choose to take care of myself. This means that I am getting enough sleep, eating three healthy meals a day, and staying clean. Of course, not every day is perfect but I do my best to treat my future self with respect.
Mindful Breathing is a research proven way to lower stress and anxiety. It has also shown to be complementary to other daily activities such as exercise.
How to start?
Set a timer for 2 minutes-5 minutes and practice one of the following exercises (Cronkleton, 2019):
- Pursed Lip Breathing
- Relax your neck and shoulders.
- Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose for 2 counts.
- Pucker or purse your lips as though you were going to whistle.
- Exhale slowly by blowing air through your pursed lips for a count of 4.
- Breath Focus Technique
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable place.
- Bring your awareness to your breaths without trying to change how you’re breathing.
- Alternate between normal and deep breaths a few times. Notice any differences between normal breathing and deep breathing. Notice how your abdomen expands with deep inhalations.
- Note how shallow breathing feels compared to deep breathing.
- Practice your deep breathing for a few minutes.
- Place one hand below your belly button, keeping your belly relaxed, and notice how it rises with each inhale and falls with each exhale.
- Let out a loud sigh with each exhale.
- Begin the practice of breath focus by combining this deep breathing with imagery and a focus word or phrase that will support relaxation.
- You can imagine that the air you inhale brings waves of peace and calm throughout your body. Mentally say, “Inhaling peace and calm.”
- Imagine that the air you exhale washes away tension and anxiety. You can say to yourself, “Exhaling tension and anxiety.”
- Lion’s Breath
- Come into a comfortable seated position. You can sit back on your heels or cross your legs.
- Press your palms against your knees with your fingers spread wide.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and open your eyes wide.
- At the same time, open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue, bringing the tip down toward your chin.
- Contract the muscles at the front of your throat as you exhale out through your mouth by making a long “ha” sound.
- You can turn your gaze to look at the space between your eyebrows or the tip of your nose.
- Do this breath 2 to 3 times.
- Equal Breathing
- Choose a comfortable seated position.
- Breathe in and out through your nose.
- Count during each inhale and exhale to make sure they are even in duration. Alternatively, choose a word or short phrase to repeat during each inhale and exhale.
- You can add a slight pause or breath retention after each inhale and exhale if you feel comfortable. (Normal breathing involves a natural pause.)
- Continue practicing this breath for at least 5 minutes.
- Deep Breathing
- While standing or sitting, draw your elbows back slightly to allow your chest to expand.
- Take a deep inhalation through your nose.
- Retain your breath for a count of 5.
- Slowly release your breath by exhaling through your nose.
To get the desired effects regular practice is necessary. Scheduling time as a family or alone to mindfully breath is not only good for your health, but with regular practice you may feel calmer and less stressed!
Cronkleton, E. (2019, April 09). 10 Breathing Exercises to Try: For Stress, Training & Lung Capacity. Retrieved July 19, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise