This is week one of Weekly Wellness. Every week we will be focusing on one small aspect of our lives to make progress on our health and wellness journey. My goal is to make the steps small and achievable. People always say that making life changes are so hard, and they have no idea how to start. They get overwhelmed and stop trying because there is too much.
My goal here is to do one new thing a week, and to continue doing it while adopting another new habit. Every. Single. Week.
Feel free to do some and not others. Whatever fits your lifestyle at this time. I will not push any specific diet because the diet I follow is not for everyone and I respect that. I will try to guide as best as I can but I encourage YOU to help too! Reply to the post about your experiences, worries, wins or failures. Your experiences can help others grow. Follow the conversation here, on Facebook and Twitter. Pin the post so you can find it later.
You can do this! We can do this!
Are you ready to take your first step to wellness?
Breathing is something we do unconsciously every day. We breathe in, we breathe out, but do we really breathe?
When a person is stressed they tend to take shallow breaths originating from the chest. Most people are in a constant state of chronic stress making shallow breathing a habit.
By taking deep, full breaths and doing breathing exercises you are nourishing every cell in your body, bathing it in oxygen and removing excess carbon monoxide that builds up in the blood stream.
Deep breathing has many benefits such as:
- Reducing stress
- Promoting relaxation
- Removes stale air and toxins from the lungs
- Increasing Metabolism
- Releasing endorphins and can reduce the feeling of pain relieving headaches, muscle tension, back pain , sleeplessness and more.
- Clear and focus the mind
- Create a deep state of relaxation
- Expands lung capacity
- Increase stamina
- Improves stress response
- Promotes sleep
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Increases digestive function
- Strengthens the abdomen and massages the bowels improving bowel movements
- Clears the mind
- Increases physical, mental and spiritual self-awareness
- Provides more oxygen to the body and tissues increasing the body’s ability to repair.
- Some people report better skin and less wrinkles
- Can help increase flexibility
- Aids in weight loss.
Are you ready to breathe?
A deep breath originates not in your chest, but in your diaphragm.
Lay flat on your back with one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest. Breathe deeply into your abdomen. Feel your lower hand rise and fall with your breath. This is where you want to breathe from. When I was taking voice lessons they always told me to breathe from my belly button. A deep breath will lift your abdomen, barely moving your chest. Your shoulders should not move at all.
If you have had proper singing direction or done yoga you already know how to deep breathe, just do it!
drweil.com has an amazingly written set of breathing exercises to promote relaxation and healing. I will quote them shortly BUT I would like to mention that you do not need to be sitting up straight. I find a great way to relax and focus is to lay on the bed, the ground, or any other flat surface and do my breathing exercises. I will share my favorite exercise after I share Dr. Weil’s.
When you take time to breathe some of these exercises you can do anywhere, in the car, in the house, at work, in the back yard, you name it. Just make it somewhere where you can be at peace.
I find my self doing more and more breathing exercises during chaotic times like when my toddler writes on the walls with permanent marker. It helps diffuse angry situations nicely. So, a peaceful place is ideal, but these can be done anywhere.
The Stimulating Breath (also called the Bellows Breath)
The Stimulating Breath is adapted from a yogic breathing technique. Its aim is to raise vital energy and increase alertness.
- Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Your breathes in and out should be equal in duration, but as short as possible. This is a noisy breathing exercise.
- Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm, suggesting a bellows. Breathe normally after each cycle.
- Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. Each time you practice the Stimulating Breath, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute.
If done properly, you may feel invigorated, comparable to the heightened awareness you feel after a good workout. You should feel the effort at the back of the neck, the diaphragm, the chest and the abdomen. Try this breathing exercise the next time you need an energy boost and feel yourself reaching for a cup of coffee.
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count ofeight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little light-headed when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
If you want to get a feel for this challenging work, try your hand at breath counting, a deceptively simple technique much used in Zen practice.
Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.
- To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale.
- The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.”
- Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation.
Never count higher than “five,” and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “eight,” “12,” even “19.”
Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation.
My favorite deep breathing exercise is this:
Full body relaxation
Lay flat on your back with your legs flat on the ground and your hands palm up to receive the positive energy in the room.
Take a nice long deep breath in and exhale.
Inhale. Tighten up your feet as much as you can and exhale release them and let them sink into the floor.
Inhale. Tighten up your calf muscles as much as you can. Exhale. Release the tension and feel your calves melt into the floor.
Inhale. Tighten up your thigh muscles. Exhale. Release the tension and feel them relax as you sink further into the ground.
Inhale. Tighten your abdomen. Exhale. Release the tension feeling it flow into the earth.
Inhale. Tighten your hands. Exhale release the energy into the ground.
Inhale. Tighten your arms. Exhale. Release the tension feeling it flow away.
Inhale. Tighten your shoulders. Exhale. Release the tension of your shoulders and the days stress and let it go deep into the ground. Repeat if needed.
Inhale. Tighten your neck. Exhale. Release that tension.
Inhale. Tighten your head. Exhale. Release all the negative thoughts and emotions tied to today and bury them deep into the earth.
Inhale. Tighten your face. Exhale. Release any negative body thoughts you might have and let them go with your breath.
Inhale peace, love, courage, strength, motivation, energy, extacy, or any other positive emotion.
Exhale negativity, hate, want, pain, suffering, anxiety, depression, and any other negative thoughts haunting you.
At the end of this exercise you will be so relaxed and focused on the positive you will feel wonderful.
You can do this! Breathing is easy. Take the first step today, tonight, soon and make this small change in your life. Do it every night to relax and promote rest, relaxation, and self acceptance.
You can do this!
Let me know how you feel as we support each other through this journey.
How do you feel? Do you have any breathing exercises that help you relax and focus?
This blog shared on: The Gathering Spot, Homestead Barn Hop, Homesteader Blog Carnival, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Living Green Tuesday, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Healthy 2 Day, Super Linky Party
- 15 Natural Life Hacks Using Tea - August 12, 2014
- Gut Soothing Herbal Tea Blend - August 7, 2014
- Heath Benefits of Tea – Camellia sinensis Materia Medica - August 5, 2014
- Honey and Hemp Shampoo Bar Recipe and Cold Process Soap Making Book Review - July 17, 2014
- Watermelon Rosemary Lime Infused Water - July 10, 2014
- How to Teach Your Toddler About Money - July 1, 2014
- How To Eat Gluten Free On Vacation - June 26, 2014
- Crockpot Chicharon and Black Bean Tacos Recipe - June 25, 2014
- Natural Living Monday - June 22, 2014
- Natural Herbal Living Magazine – Print Edition - June 20, 2014