Simple Breathing Exercise
The beauty of deep breathing is that it is a quick, easy, effective stress reliever and can be done anywhere. it has numerous benefits for the body by bringing more oxygen into the blood; this can ‘wake up’ the brain, relax muscles and bring focus and quiet to the mind.
- Sit in a comfortable position. The position ‘seiza’ (“say zah”) with legs beneath the buttocks and knees directly in front, is uncomfortable for many people; If this is the case, you may sit cross-legged ('anza') or in another position that’s more comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes (keep eyes focused straight ahead behind your lids), keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and your head up.
- Bring your focus to the act of breathing and take a deep, cleansing breath, expanding your belly and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Hold breath in for the count of six then exhale, repeat twice more, then breathe normally. As you breathe, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, still expanding your belly rather than moving your shoulders or chest up and down.
- If your thoughts drift toward the stresses of the day ahead or of the day behind you, gently refocus on your breathing and remain in the present moment. Feel the air move in, and feel the air move out. That’s it.
- Continue this for as little or as long as you like, and you should notice that your body is more relaxed and your mind is more centred. Enjoy the rest of your day!
- As you breathe, let your abdomen expand and contract, rather than moving your shoulders up and down. This deeper breathing is more natural and similar to how babies breathe. It gives you increased lung capacity, whereas the ‘shallow breathing’ adults usually utilize doesn’t allow as much oxygenation of the blood.
- If you have trouble expanding your abdomen, take a little time to practice; imagine your abdomen is a balloon, and as you pull air in through your nose (mouth if necessary) you inflate the balloon.
- If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, try holding your breath, pinch your nose and nod your head until you feel the need to breathe; release your nostrils and breathe in through your nose – not your mouth. The nodding helps bring blood to the head and assists in clearing the sinus.
- Don't breathe too quickly or too slowly; just breathe at a natural rate, but more deeply.
- If you find your thoughts are drifting a lot at first, don't worry this is natural. Noticing that you've drifted and then bringing your thoughts back to your breathing is part of the practice, and something you're doing 'right'!