Slow, mindful breathing is often associated with meditation and yoga techniques for helping to relax the mind and body, where it is an essential part of the process of finding mental peace. But incorporating conscious, mindful breathing techniques into your everyday routine can be helpful and even healing on a number of fronts. Personally, I like to practice the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique on my commute home from work, when I can focus on exhaling my day and inhaling peace. Tata practices breathing techniques daily, as they’re a central part of her approach to stress management.
According to Dr. Andrew Wiel, “Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
A few tried & true breathing and relaxation techniques are below with step-by-step instructions. The first 2 are ones that Tata personally recommends for dealing with the pressures and stresses of daily life. It’s helpful to, with each one, mentally remove yourself from your present place, close your eyes, and focus on the process of calming down.
(I’ve taken these instructions directly from the health and wellness experts on Dr. Weil’s website, you can visit the full article if you’d like here.)
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing) Breath: This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale fully out of your mouth, making a whooshing sound
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to the mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely out of your mouth, making a whooshing sound to the count of eight.
- This is one breath – Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
If you find that holding your breath for seven counts is difficult, you can speed up the entire process, but maintaining the 4 – 7 – 8 ratio is important. You’ll find as you continue the practice that your breath improves and that you can hold it for longer and slow down the process. According to Dr. Weil’s article, this breathing technique has powerful tranquilizing effects and its effectiveness improves over time, as you get better at it. Try to practice it twice a day any time you need to relax – after a stressful meeting, before bed, early in the day as you head to work.
The Stimulating Breath: The Stimulating Breath is adapted from a yogic breathing technique. Its aim is to raise vital energy and increase alertness.
- Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Your breaths in and out should be equal in duration, but as short as possible. This is a noisy breathing exercise.
- Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm, suggesting a bellows. Breathe normally after each cycle.
- Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. Each time you practice the Stimulating Breath, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute.
Breath Counting: Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.
- To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale.
- The next time you exhale, count “two”, and so on up to “five”.
- Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation.
Never count higher than “five”, and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “eight”, “12” and even “19.” Try to do 10 minutes of this meditation.
Again, head to Dr. Andrew Weil’s site (which is full of other helpful health tips and guidance) to see this original article – I felt his description of the techniques was so easy to understand I just thought I’d share it here.
Do you have any relaxation techniques that you practice daily to help with daily craziness? If so, share below!
Author: Tata Harper Team
The team at Tata Harper Skincare is passionate about promoting a modern, health-conscious natural beauty lifestyle that’s committed to safety, honesty and sustainability.