This is breathing technique #1 of the breathing series we’re doing over the next few weeks. It’s called 4-4 Breathing. You’ll be inhaling & exhaling, both for the count of 4. This is the 1st technique I teach new clients. It’s easy, quick to learn & you can do it anywhere. It’s great for beginners & experienced practitioners. Breathing techniques can help you connect body + mind. They are part of my yoga, meditation & mindfulness classes. They’re GREAT for stress, bring oxygen into the body, can help you heal & teach you so much about yourself, emotionally & physically.
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Before you begin this breathing meditation start by taking a nice, long, slow, deep breath in through your nose. On your exhale, open your mouth and let it go. Let your exhale be audible, the sound you would make if you were fogging up a window, mirror, or a pair of glasses. A gentle sigh works too, or let it be as loud as you’d like. If you’re in a crowd I’d still like you to do this but it can be quiet, I promise no one will even notice. If it’s accessible to you, you may place your hands on your belly, on your heart, or one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. It will be nice to feel your breath under your hands, and allows you to move deeper inside of yourself, amplifying the experience. You’ll still get the same benefits if this is not available to you at the moment. As with the placement of your hands, if it’s accessible to you, you may now close your eyes. Whether or not you’re closing your eyes, make sure the face & jaw is relaxed. We hold a lot of stress & tension in our jaws by clenching the jaw together. You may open and close the mouth a few times here, then let the tongue rest gently between the bottom teeth. Allow your shoulders to melt down away from your ears, giving your neck lots of space to release & relax. Then begin your counting exercise.
Inhaling & exhaling through your nose. Let the inhales & exhales be slow & long. Filling the entire space between your bellybutton & collarbones.
Inhale – Counting slowly… 1, 2, 3, 4. Remember 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi.
Exhale… 1, 2, 3, 4
Inhale… 1, 2, 3, 4
Exhale… 1, 2, 3, 4
You may repeat this as many times as you’d like, but I would suggest doing this for a minimum of 30-60 seconds. You can set a timer on your phone. The longer and more often you do this exercise the more you’ll feel the benefits, but I can tell you from experience that if you’re in a very stressful situation, or you’re having a panic attack, doing 1 solid round will definitely make you feel less stressed out & less anxious. You’ll feel your heart rate decrease, blood pressure will lower, your physical body will feel less tense, your thoughts will slow down. You’ll be pulling yourself out of the fight-or-flight response and into the parasympathetic response, which is much better for your general health & well-being.
You can do this lying down, before or after yoga or exercise, sitting on the couch, in your car, on a walk, at work, anywhere. Breathing techniques are helpful in a pinch; during stressful situations, heavy traffic, when you can’t sleep or are feeling anxious.
NOTE: Not all breathing techniques should be done while driving but the 3 that I’m providing over the next few weeks should be fine. If you find yourself becoming too relaxed, lightheaded, or distracted avoid using them while driving.
*Improve mental & physical well-being
*Promotes deep relaxation
*Improves emotional state
*Reduce stress & anxiety levels
*Can boost immunity
*Can help you process emotions & heal emotional pain, grief & trauma
*Can reduce the symptoms of chronic pain, depression & PTSD
*Help you work through anger issues
*Can reduce the symptoms of the emotional effects of illness
*Improves energy levels
Photo by: @jessicaczarneckiphoto