4 Better Ways to Breathe
Techniques for becoming more aware of your breathing patterns.
“In yoga, we sometimes view that the rib cage and lung area can become like a prison, a trap for emotion,” said my yoga instructor, as we thumped on our clavicles to loosen energy blocks. “That’s why paying attention to breathing is so very important in restoring the flow of prana.” It made sense. I’d had such a stressful week at work that I sometimes felt that I could literally not catch my breath—I knew that couldn’t be healthy! Inspired by her words, I went in search of some healthier habits around breathing, and found four techniques for becoming more aware of my patterns. Here’s what I discovered.
Treat anxiety with pursed lip breathing.
This technique is a way to control the breath and used by people who are having a serious problem with their breathing, such as with emphysema. But it can also be used as a simple way to deal with moments of anxiety and stress. According to the Lung Institute, pursed lip breathing is easy to try. Start by relaxing your neck and shoulders. Inhale slowly through the nostrils for two seconds with your mouth closed, then purse your lips and exhale out for four seconds. Don’t breathe out hard. Continue as your mind finds its calm.
Detox with tantric breathing.
While comfortably on your back, draw the breath in through the nose and let the abdomen expand, allowing the lungs to fill fully, writes Genovieve Feasey, a counselor and therapist. Hold the breath for a brief moment before completing expelling the air, and allow your belly to deflate. Work up to practicing this type of breathing for 10 minutes in the morning and night.
Boost energy with lion’s breath.
This is a good way to energize at the start of the day and to dispel negative thoughts and energy. With your hands on your knees, inhale through your nose, and then exhale out your mouth with your tongue sticking out as far down toward the chin as you can, and say “ha!” loudly. Do this four to six times. Nope, this doesn’t work well in cubicles! Try a break room or save it for home.
Reduce frustration with sitali breath.
Stick your tongue out of your mouth, like a straw, and literally sip in the air. Bring in your tongue, exhale through the nostrils. Repeat the pattern up to 12 times. This cools and relaxes the body. If you happen to be someone who cannot curl your tongue, the alternate is to sip the air in through your teeth, reports the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.
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