We’ve all felt it before: overworked, under stress, and too many demands to count. Especially this week with Inauguration day coming up, we’re all in need of some radical self-care. The good news is, you don’t need a 90 minute massage, all you need is a pair of working lungs and your attention. Controlled breathing is proven to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and promote feelings of tranquility and stability. Here are three ways to relax in less than 10 minutes with breathing exercises or pranayama.
1. Nadi Shodana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”
This breathing exercise brings calm and balance to both sides of the brain. Sit in a comfortable position, long spine. Bring your right palm to your face, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and right ring finger over your left nostril. Close off the right nostril, inhale through the left nostril, close off the left nostril, hold for a second, then breathe out the right nostril. Breathe in through the right, close off the right - hold at the top of your inhale, then exhale through the left. Continue this pattern for 5 minutes and it will clear your channels and make you feel more alert, awake, and balanced. Who needs that cup of coffee?
2. Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”
This exercise is extremely beneficial if you need to slow down racing thoughts or get away from distractions of the mind. You start with inhaling for a count of four, then exhaling for a count of four, once comfortable with this, you can increase the number to a count of six and then to a count of eight.
3. The 4-7-8
This simple exercise can be done anywhere in just five steps. First, exhale deeply through your mouth. Then close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a count of four. Hold the breath at the top the inhale for seven, then exhale completely through your mouth to a count of eight. Repeat this cycle four times and you’ll definitely feel calmer, more balanced, and relaxed.
I hope these exercises help you get through this week, especially before or on Friday. You can keep them in your toolbox for whenever you turn on the TV, feel down, or if you’re going through a stressful period.