Did you know you could literally be just one breathe away from having a more relaxed mind and body? Okay, maybe it takes a few breathes!
One of the main reasons use of breathing techniques, especially those focused on nostril breathing (as compared to mouth breathing), work is that focused breathing brings our awareness to the breath which is a natural part of living. When focused on slow breathing for even a few minutes, the mind and body receive the signal to calm down.
When doing any type breathing technique, there are four key factors to remember:
Be in a comfortable position. Either sitting with feet flat on the floor or lying comfortably on your back.
Breathe from the belly! Using diaphragmatic breathing, also known as breathing from the belly, provides greater relaxation and oxygenation in the body. Breathing shallow, or from the upper chest, is not as effective when it comes to feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Be mindful. Closing your eyes and concentrating on breathing is another reminder to the mind and body that this is focused breathing and essentially “commands” the body to relax.
Breathe in and out from the nostrils not the mouth. Nostril breathing again is another way the body is signaled this exercise is relaxing and not an aerobic exercise like running or cycling. Also, nostril breathing makes it easier to control the breathe and forces a slower rate of intake and exhalation of air.
Example breathing techniques proven to help when practiced regularly:
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
1. Breathe in (from the belly and using nostrils) for 4 counts.
2. Hold the breathe for 7 counts.
3. Breathe out slowly (using nostrils only) for 8 counts.
4. Repeat at least 3 times to complete 1 cycle.
For those who like imagery, imagine tapping the corners of a square or box while doing the following:
1. Breathe in for 4 seconds.
2. Hold the breathe for 4 seconds.
3. Breathe out for 4 seconds.
4. Repeat 4 times.
The great thing about these breathing techniques? You can do them anywhere at anytime!
Dr. Erika McElroy
Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC