What if I told you just simply breathing will help you reach your goals? Seems pretty simple, right? Simple, yes.Easy, not so much. Paying attention to your breath gives you instant insight to your body and the messages it’s trying to send you. Listening to our body and making necessary accommodations and changes is what helps us thrive. Wouldn’t it be so much better to get out of bed in the morning with more energy and go through your day with more focus and joy? It’s common, and generally expected, for us to run in overdrive. Pushing our bodies, our minds, our bank accounts, and our patience to the absolute limit. In doing this, we lose site of the signals our body sends us. Often times clients tell me they can’t seem to break a bad habit; overly caffeinating, staying up too late, resentfully committing to something or reaching for food choices they know are not best for them. If we want our bodies to look and feel top notch, then it’s time we listen to what it has to say.
Our breath regulates our every bodily function, from our heart rate to our mental state. Yet, it’s usually the last place we look when we’re in need of a change. Have you ever been so elated you felt as if someone had “taken your breath away” or so angry you could feel the heat of your breath blazing out of your mouth? How about so sad, it felt as if your lungs momentarily collapsed or so anxious you felt as if your breath could hardly exhale before you were sucking air right back in. The body cannot feel something without the breath expressing it.
Our breath sets the tone for our heart rate, our mood, our facial expressions, and how we handle stressful and even joyful situations. It’s time we pay attention to our breath and learn how to guide it to do what we need. The magic occurs when we realize we can use our breath to our advantage. Just like our body feels and then expresses that in breathing. We can guide our breath and gain strength, peace, energy or control during times we need it. For example, you may notice your breath is shallow and lame in a moment you feel exhausted but need to wake up and show up to something important. A simple breathing exercise (see below) can do the trick. The same goes for moments of anxiety, anger, lack of motivation and so on.
The following is a list of simple breathing techniques you can try right now to bring awareness and control to your breath.
Right here, right now, take notice of your breath. Is it slow and steady or fast and uneven? Don’t do anything to change it. Just simply pay attention and take note of how you are feeling.
This simple awareness is a practice you can keep growing stronger with. The next time you wake up pay ATTENTION. Are you exhausted or excited? How can this information help you through your day? If you’re exhausted, maybe moving slower through your morning, or squeezing in a 20 minute HIIT session will give you just the boost you need. If you’re excited but possibly feeling scattered, perhaps you would benefit from a 5 minute meditation or making a list of the day’s priorities to keep you on track.
Get comfortable, seated or lying down, eyes open or closed.
Inhale for 2 seconds, hold for 2 seconds
Exhale for 2 seconds, hold for 2 seconds
Continue this pattern, imagining the following…
Imagine drawing up the side of a square on your inhale, holding the inhale as you draw across the top of the square. Exhale as you draw down the side of the square. Finally, hold the exhale as you draw the line across the bottom of the square to where you initially started.
This exercise is very calming and helps in moments you are feeling anxious, out of control, or scattered.
Pay attention to your inhale and exhale. Now try to even them out. Inhale for 2 seconds and exhale for 2 seconds. Continue to keep the inhale and exhale as even as you can.
This exercise is beneficial when you are feeling anxious, trapped or angry. Finding the control in your breath will remind you of the control you have over your emotions and ultimately your life.
Inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 9. Continue this pattern for a few rounds and notice how you feel more energized and also more centered with the longer exhale.
This exercise will help increase your energy. In order to perform the longer exhale, you need to inhale more air. This increase of air in your chest, lungs, and down to your belly will wake up your body and increase alertness.