Breathe This Way: Four Simple Ways to Relax in Less Than 10 Minutes
All day and night we are inhaling and exhaling. But if you’re like most people, you probably rarely take the time to pay attention to your breath. Focusing on your breath can help you feel less stressed, calmer and more relaxed.
Breathing exercises are nothing new—they have been used in yoga and meditation practices for thousands of years—but you still may need some direction on adding the practice into your life. Try these four exercises the next time you need to get into a better state of mind at work, running errands or getting ready for bed to unwind for a restful night sleep:
- Abdominal Breathing Technique: This is best used before a stressful event, like a presentation at work or a nerve-wracking race.
How to do it: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through the nose, expanding your diaphragm as much as possible so that you feel a stretch in the lungs. Exhale completely through your mouth. Take six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes.
- The Stimulating Breath: Adopted from yoga practices, this breathing technique is used to increase alertness and raise energy levels.
How to do it: Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed and in a relaxed position. Your breaths in and out should take the same amount of time and be as short as possible. Start with 15-second intervals and work up to being able to do it for a full minute.
- The 4-7-8 Exercise: The 4-7-8 technique is very simple, increases your relaxation and can be done in a sitting position anywhere.
How to do it: Place the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth (you’ll keep it there through the entire exercise). Exhale completely through your mouth, then close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, then exhale completely for a count of eight. Repeat until you feel relaxed.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing: This is a favorite technique of yogis.
How to do it: Sit cross-legged and hold your right nostril shut with your right thumb. Inhale deeply through the left nostril. When you’ve finished inhaling, release the right nostril and close your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand. Exhale through the right nostril. Continue this pattern.
Explore these other blogs for more insight into simple relaxation techniques:
- Are You Breathing Properly?
- Want to Feel Younger Than Your Years? Try Yoga!
- Chill Out: Five Ways to Relax Your Mind and Body Every Day
Photo credit: Palmira Van