Busy hectic lives and out-of-control to-do lists can lead to stress, we all know that. What many of us mightn't know is we can help calm and control stress by simply breathing.
When the mind and breath flow together, we relax. It's that simple. A calm mind leads to smooth breath and conversely when the breath flows smoothly the mind settles.
Regular daily practice of deep breathing is a powerful tool for improving your physical and mental health. By practising these techniques below regularly, you will begin to naturally breathe deeply without even thinking about it.
Technique 1 - Four-Part Breathing
Foundation breath practice is grounding, centring, calming, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Step 1. Sit comfortably, with a tall spine, eyes closed. Hold your right hand on your abdomen (just above your belly button) and your left hand on your chest.
Step 2. Inhale slowly and effortlessly through the nose for a count of four. As you breathe in you should feel your stomach expand 1st, then your chest.
Step 3. Hold your breath for a count of 4.
Step 4. Exhale slowly for a count of 4. As you exhale the chest should deflate first, followed by the stomach.
Step 5. Hold your breath for a count of 4 and continue the process for three to five minutes.
Technique 2 - Mindfulness in Motion
Now that you have your foundation established you can use your breath to calm the mind and bring yourself back to the centre at any time during the day.
Remember deep breathing doesn’t mean using a lot of effort, it simply means breathing into our belly. There’s no need to close your eyes or hold your breath after the inhale and exhale, so you can do this while you’re driving, before you go into a meeting, during a conversation, even at the dentist... this technique literally works anywhere, anytime.
Whenever your mind wanders off in a direction you don’t like, or you experience unpleasant emotions, feel nervous, anxious, or scattered, you can use this as a little reminder to come back to breathe.
Even the simple act of taking 3 to 5 slow, mindful breaths will help to calm the nervous system and bring you back into present moment awareness.
Technique 3 - Triangle Breathing