Breathe. Take a deep breath. You just need to stop and breathe. We hear it, we say it to ourselves (out loud or in our heads), we read it, we’re told it, and gosh, we all know we need to do it. It’s one of the easiest ways to unwind, de-stress, regroup, feel present, and just…chill. But…somehow it’s the last thing we remember to do.
Yes, stopping and taking a deep juicy breath is a great start. But doing breathing exercises that only take a minute or two, or three can really amp up the health benefits/whooosaaaaness of it all. (I honestly have never timed myself, since, you know the whole point is to relax.)
So here are five of my favorite breathing exercises. Try one, try them all. Just give it a shot. Your mind and body will thank you. (There might be clinical/more official terms for these, but here are what I call them.)
1: The 1 Count to 8 Counts.
This is my go to. Breathe in through your nose for one count, then out for one count. Then in for two, and out for two, then in for three and out for three. Work your way up to an 8 count, then work your way back down to 1. *Breaths should be deep & juicy ones from your belly.
2: The body part check-in.
This is a great one for shutting your brain/monkey mind off. Close your eyes, and each time you take a deep breath in and out, you focus on a different part of your body ( I.e. breathe into your shoulders, and out of your shoulders, in through your elbows, out through elbows.). Start from your head and work your way to your toes. you can get as specific as you want, or as broad.
3: The ocean zone out
Personal favorite if you’re actually at an ocean/body of water that makes waves. (If you’re not, tun on a sound machine with ocean waves, or you can find ocean waves on youtube (this one lasts for 10 hours), iTunes, etc. (Talk about some soothing playlist options) Breathe in with one wave, and out with the next. If you can do two in, and two out, go for it. Do this for at least a few minutes, and it feels great to stretch while you’re; at it. If you’re by a warm ocean, go hop in it for me afterward, please.
4: The Four Count walk.
I learned this in a class once, and it’s a great “on the move” option. While you’re walking around, breathe in for four steps ( through your nose), then out for the next four (through your mouth). If four seems too short go up to five…or six. It should feel natural and consistent.
5: The 4-7-8
This one’s pretty simple, and it’s great for helping you fall asleep. You exhale through your mouth, close it, and then inhale through your nose for 4 counts. You then hold your breath in for 7 counts, then release it in 8 counts, and repeat at least three times. Think of it as the melatonin of breathing exercises.
There you go.
• Flow/Power yoga has also helped me a TON. Or any yoga, really – I just love how your transition between moves in power/flow yoga is based on your breath.) And little things like if I’m making tea to stop and breathe in the steam of the hot water for a minute (added in facial too.) If I’m cuddling/reading a book to my son, to stop and smell his hair (ok his Baby Bum kiddo shampoo smells amazing), or regardless or weather conditions, to go outside first thing in the morning, do a big stretch, and start the day with a big breath of fresh air.
Breathing. It’s a truly delicious ritual.
Thankfully our bodies do it for us naturally. Doing my best to have my mind remember to give it a little extra time to do its thing.