Taking it in… is the first step in the inspiring practice of breathing. The drawing in, sounds like such a natural thing, yet so many struggle with breathing. Holding your breath and shallow breathing are signs of imbalance in life. Here are 3 simple breathing practices to bring balance to the body and the mind. You see, we need a well oxygenated body for clear thoughts, inspiring ideas, healthy body and balanced lives.
The first practice is awareness. Moshe Feldenkrais said, you cannot change what you are doing until you know what you are doing. Paying attention to your breathing throughout your day can improve your well-being. Breathing is something that doesn’t require us to think about to do. Yet, many of us don’t realize when we are holding our breath because of fear, anxiety, tension, stress, control or habit. To bring awareness to your breathing pattern is easy. Just notice how and where you breath comes from and how it moves your body. Do your shoulders lift as you breath? Are you taking in air in from your nose or your mouth? Do your ribs move? What about your belly? There is nothing to change in this practice of awareness. It is just a simple noticing and it brings you into your body that will relieve stress and tension just with the noticing.
The second practice is belly breathing. This is how babies breath while sleeping. On the inhale, allow your belly to fill, expand and move outwardly. There is no need to force the expanding. Allow the abdominal muscles to relax…let the ribs move…feel the breath in your back…finding a natural flow…just breathe. You may notice that you get inspired as you do this. Thoughts and solutions come to mind, creativity opens, and clarity awakens. Many teachers give structure and guidance with the inhale being through the nose and the exhale being from the mouth. For me, it is more important to follow the rhythm of the breathing. I will say that it is easier to inhale through the nose. If you hold tension in your jaw, rest your tongue on the bottom of your mouth while doing this practice. Allow the breathing to be slow and easy, no force is needed. Find the natural exhale, either nose or mouth.
The third practices is bringing your awareness to the parts of the breath. There is the inhale and the exhale and, there are two transitional pauses. Breathing is a 4-step dance. Inhale, pause, exhale, pause…repeat. Most people don’t even notice the pause. This is a key transition in the body. It is the light switch in the autonomic nervous system between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. Exhaling bring the rest and digest of the parasympathetic system. You can experience this with a deep sigh. The inhale is the action of the sympathetic nervous system. One system is not better than the other. The key is to balance them. So here is the practice…keep it simple:
Count of 3 for each: Inhale…Pause…Exhale…Pause (Repeat for 10 times)
Count of 6 for each: Inhale…Pause…Exhale…Pause (Repeat for 10 times)
Count of 9 for each: Inhale…Pause…Exhale…Pause (Repeat for 10 times)
For this practice, it is important to listen to your body. Don’t push the count if it is straining. You may choose to stay with the count of 3 for this practice. That’s perfectly fine. This is not a competition. Be kind and gentle to yourself.
There are many types of breathing exercises and practices. Some are overly complex, in my opinion. For the person who is working with high stress and anxiety, I say keep it simple…notice how you are breathing, then belly breathe, then do the 4-step breathing practice. Make the commitment in each breath.
Here are 2 bonus practices:
Need oxygen? Need to relieve tension? Stressed out? Pick one of the following…SIGH, LAUGH or YAWN! These give an influx of O2 into the body. Fake laughing counts! Try this for 2-5 minutes at a time.
The last thing I will leave you with today is the benefit of working with a Clinical Aromatherapist! They are skilled in the blending of essential oils for health benefits. I work closely with Carly Sink of Hi-Frequency Healing. I would classify her as an alchemist of oil blending. Recently, I asked her for an oil blend for a friend with COPD and asthma. She created an oil called, INSPIRE. It is a beautiful blend of essential oils that not only aid the lungs and breathing but clears the mind. I was so taken with the aroma of this blend that I personally, diffuse it in my home and have a diluted version to wear. For me, it clears my writing blocks and brings ideas… I am inspired.
Until next time, Just Breathe! Practice breathing…I know that sounds funny! Bring your awareness to your breathing, find your inspiration supportive to your body and soul. Exhale all the tension from your body and don’t forget the value of the pause! Remember, a practice doesn’t have to be complicated. To be effective, a practice must be practiced!!!!!!
Peace and Blessings,
Blue Jean Oracle