Breathing Exercises

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Your breath is one of the most powerful tools you have for
relaxing your body and mind, building vitality, and
improving your health. Your breath connects your mind
and body, and when you consciously focus your attention
on your breathing, you immediately and positively
influence your physical and emotional well-being. Learning
to breathe fully in a relaxed way is one of the quickest
ways to energize and heal your body and calm your mind,
but it often takes conscious practice to transform old
breathing habits that cause fatigue and tension into new,
healthier ways of breathing. Set aside 5 or 10 minutes
every day to practice one or more of the following
breathing exercises. When you become familiar with
conscious breathing techniques, you can practice them
anywhere, at any time. If you've never before practiced
deep breathing exercises, you might initially find that you
feel a bit lightheaded. Go slowly with the exercises, and
work at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
Simple Relaxing Breath.

This easy exercise slows down your breathing and helps you to feel calm, relaxed, and energized.

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, and bring your attention to your breathing.

  • Relax, and inhale through your nose to a count of 5, counting at a pace that is comfortable for you.

  • Hold your breath for a count of 5.

  • Open your mouth slightly, and exhale to a count of 10, keeping your exhalation smooth and controlled.

  • Repeat the exercise for a total of five complete cycles.

Deep Belly Breathing.

Deep belly breathing (also called diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing) teaches you to breathe correctly.
Observe a young child, and you'll get the idea of how you should breathe. When you inhale, your abdomen
should expand, and when you exhale, your abdomen should contract. This is just the opposite of how most
adults breathe. Chronic stress and internalizing messages such as "hold in your stomach" lead to poor
breathing habits. To restore a healthy breathing pattern, practice the following exercise.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, a
    comfortable distance from your buttocks. Place your hands on your abdomen to help you feel the
    expansion and contraction of your abdomen as you breathe.

  • Inhale slowly and deeply, allowing your breath to fill and expand your abdomen. As you inhale, gently
    arch your lower back, which helps to expand your abdomen and relaxes your internal organs.

  • Exhale, gently pulling your abdominal muscles in toward your spine, at the same time gently flattening
    the small of your back against the floor.

  • Continue breathing in this way for several minutes, and then  relax.
Alternate Nostril Breathing.

This yoga breathing exercise calms the body and mind and promotes clear thinking by balancing the right and
left hemispheres of the brain.

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your  shoulders relaxed.

  • Gently press your right nostril closed with your right thumb and inhale slowly and deeply to a count of 5
    through your left nostril. Gently press your left nostril closed with the ring finger of your right hand.
    Retain the breath for a count of 5.

  • Release your thumb, exhaling slowly and completely through your right nostril to a count of 10.
    Immediately inhale through your right nostril in a slow and steady rhythm to a count of 5. Close your
    right nostril with your right thumb and retain the breath for count of 5.

  • Release your ring finger, and exhale slowly and steadily through your left nostril to a count of 10.
    Repeat the entire sequence five to ten times, keeping your breath even and controlled.

Vitality-Enhancing Breath.

This simple breathing exercise provides a boost of quick energy.

  • Sit or stand with your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed.

  • Inhale a series of short, quick breaths through your nostrils until your lungs are completely filled with air.

  • Exhale forcefully and quickly through your mouth, making the sound "ha" as you exhale completely.

  • Repeat several times, and then resume normal breathing.

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