3 Everyday Breathwork Exercises
A few days ago, we talked about how to stay centered around others as a way to be shielded from feeling consumed by the energy around you. As a complement to that, and in my ever-loving effort to be a little more mindful everyday, I’ve learned that breathwork, or simple breathing exercises, are also super helpful. My longterm goal is to be able to maintain this mindset throughout the day without having to pause and think about doing it. Especially trying to stay focused and present in times of stress or anger. Many people have a tendency to get quickly overwhelmed and spiral into panic mode. Others shut down emotionally in times of stress. Not liking either of those options, I’m choosing to practice mindfulness each and everyday as a way to a healthier, more balanced mind (without the intense ups and downs).
Breathing exercises make it really easy to maintain a balanced spirit during the day when there are natural ups and downs.
I’ve broken down 3 of my favorites for you to try today:
I like to use this to start my day. Mornings for me are usually pretty scattered – getting myself and the kids ready for work and school, making it to the train on time, remembering to eat, etc – so right when I get on the train I start this exercise. It centers my thoughts and preps me for the day.
- Settle into a comfortable position either sitting or lying down
- Take a couple of slow, deep breaths as you close your eyes or unfocus your vision.
- Bring your breath back to it’s normal rhythm, and start to visualize your body. Think about your posture, the pressure under your feet, where you may be feeling some discomfort.
- Scan down from the top of your head slowly to your toes, making a mental picture of your entire body. Keep breathing at your body’s natural rhythm.
- Now that you have a complete mental image of your body, focus back on your breath and how that looks in your mind. Begin to count your inhales and exhales up to 10. Inhale 1, exhale 2. Inhale 3, exhale 4, and so on up to 10. Notice the rise and fall of your belly as you count.
- Try to do this for 5-10 minutes. Your mind may wander many times (this is normal!), but once you notice this happening, slowing bring your focus back to your breath.
- When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and notice how you feel physically and mentally. Hopefully this leaves you feeling centered, refreshed, and relaxed.
Usually at some point mid-day, I experience some level of elevated stress. I use this exercise to take a step back from the situation and allow myself to refocus.
- Find a place where you can sit down, just for 2 or 3 minutes, uninterrupted.
- Begin by taking 3 deep breaths. Allow thoughts and feelings to come and go, softening your body with each exhale.
- As you are focusing on your breath, try to isolate a physical sensation. Whether it’s tightness in your shoulders, or a noticing how a ring on your finger feels. Don’t think about trying to adjust this sensation, just be present with it. Give that physical feeling your full attention. Let your other thoughts come and go.
- Rest with that sensation for a minute or two, removing the “I” away from the thoughts that are stressing you out. (The more personally attacked your are feeling, the more real the thoughts become. Slowly removing the “I” from the situation gives you some healthy distance without shutting down.) Continue to breathe.
- With each out breath, let a little bit more of that feeling go.
- After two or three minutes of this, it will leave you feeling more relaxed now that you have taken a healthy step back.
Practice letting your body and mind relax before bed, free of negative energy. I love this one. It’s a perfect way to end the day feeling centered and aligned.
- Settle into a comfortable position lying down on your back or side.
- Place your hand on your belly, to feel the movement of your natural breathing rhythm. Take a nice big deep breath — in through the nose, and out through the mouth.
- Move your head very, very gently from side to side. Find a comfortable spot and then stop. Let those muscles in your neck completely relax.
- Then do this with your shoulders. Moving them very, very gently for a few seconds, and then putting them to rest.
- Slowly continue these gentle movements down your entire body, all of the way to your toes.
- Once you get to your toes, notice that your whole body is at rest and relaxed.
This takes practice. Your mind will wander in the beginning. Keep practicing. The more your practice mindfulness and meditation, the more engrained it will become in your life, and you won't feel the need to pause so often.