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JUST BREATHE!

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Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

Ahh…Breathing…Something our bodies do all day, everyday without us even thinking about it! Aren’t we lucky!? Can you imagine what life would be like if we had to be conscious of each and every breath we took..that would be exhausting! 

How many times have you heard the expressions, “just breathe” or “don’t waste your breath”? 

These are expressions we utter on a daily basis yet many of us don’t actually take or have the time to just breathe.

Why Not?!

As humans, we tend to give ourselves to the people and things we identify as most important. Our daily roles are vast, spanning from parents, spouses, friend, colleague, boss, caregiver….the list goes on! The “go, go, go” mentality of our busy lives can lead to feeling stressed, overwhelmed, irritable, and unhappy.  Though we inherently understand it’s important to stop and smell the roses, it’s just not something we intentionally make time for.

However, making time for ourselves each day to breathe, even if it’s in your car before you drive home from work or to your next errand, will help you to feel more centered, ease your stress and allow you to be more present for yourself and those around you.

Just like on an airplane: Put YOUR own oxygen mask on first!

So what gives and how do we make deliberate time for ourselves each day – just a few minutes – to clear our heads and take care of our mental and emotional well being?

Two techniques I have found most helpful are Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) and 4-7-8 Breathing technique by Dr. Andrew Weil.

This blog is going to teach you both so you can alleviate stress, calm anxiety and provide the mental clarity to live your best, feel your best and do your best! Both techniques take less than 5 minutes – yay- and there’s a video to help guide you trough if you’re new to this or a wee bit skeptical.


WHY SHOULD WE BREATHE CONSCIOUSLY?

Hindus believe we have a finite number of breaths allotted to us at birth so wouldn’t it be great if we could lengthen and expand our breathing to lengthen our lives?

Conscious breathing is super cool (and important) because breathing not only keeps us living, but also provides a variety of other very necessary functions like:

  • Activating the body’s relaxation response

  • Reducing stress/anxiety

  • Decreasing blood pressure

  • Improving cardiovascular health and digestion

  • Boosting immunity

  • Manage cravings

  • Assisting with sleep

  • Reducing anger responses

Who knew breathing had so many other purposes? As we continue adapting to a new normal of living given so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we could all greatly benefit from healthy, safe habits to stay mentally, physically and emotionally well! By practicing and applying these two breathing techniques, you can:

#1. Be more present and in the moment

#2. Focus on and sustain your health and fitness goals

#2. Stay grounded and balanced by allowing yourself to be pulled back into your body and out of your head

If you’re reading this thinking, “Thanks Coach Melanie, but I don’t have time for this”, I’m here to assure you YES YOU DO! And if you’re experiencing things like stress, anxiety, cravings, shitty sleep, etc. think of how much better you could feel if you at least tried it. Plus, living in quarantine means all we have is MORE TIME so I lovingly urge you to give these techniques the opportunity to help you.


#1. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING TECHNIQUE

**JOIN ME IN THE VIDEO BELOW FOR A STEP BY STEP, GUIDED PROCESS!

Step by step process also written out after the video.


 

• Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed or seated in a chair with back supported

• Place your left hand on your left knee.

• Lift your right hand up toward your nose, folding index and middle finger down towards palm.

• Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.

• Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your right ring finger.

• Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.

• Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.

• Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.

• This is one cycle.

• Continue for up to 5-10 minutes.

• Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.


#2. 4-7-8 BREATHING TECHNIQUE

• Find a comfortable seated position or lie down to prevent falling as this technique can cause lightheadedness or dizziness

• Place the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth

• Completely empty the lungs of air

• Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds

• Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds

• Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds

• Repeat the cycle up to 4 times

• Can be done twice a day for no more than 4 cycles each time

• The longer and more frequently a person uses this technique, the more effective it becomes


Your action steps are to try at least 1 of the techniques twice and see how you feel. Then, try the second technique twice. Each will take less than 5 minutes so mark down and schedule your 5 minutes right now on the family calendar, phone alarm, planner – whatever you must do to reserve just 5 minutes of time twice this week.

Need help idenitfying when you have 5 minutes of freedom? How about 5 minutes before bed, first thing when you wake up in the morning, while driving in your car, or when having the URGE to SNACK! I promise, you won’t be sorry.

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Peace + Hugs

 

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