5 Simple Ways to Relax Deeply Using Your Breath.
I breathe in deeply. The cold blast of air on this frosty winter morning is stimulating and I feel alive. I am reminded of the power of the breath and I stand for a few moments longer just breathing and taking in the view before I set off home, back to my day and to work.
Those few moments of breath made all the difference and I wonder. How have you been breathing this week? How are you breathing now?
Take a few moments to just breathe right now then come back and join me as we explore some simple ways to incorporate breathing exercises into your day.
Welcome back. I feel calmer, more connected and ready to act. How do you feel?
Sometimes, just remembering to take the time for a few simple breaths, without even any particular practice, is half the trick. Of course, a regular practice is beneficial, hugely so. Your body remembers your regular routine and the relaxed state it produces. Practice on ordinary days and when you really need the tools they will be right there waiting for you. Your body will respond more quickly than you may you expect, dropping you back into relax mode.
So let’s go. Let me share with you five simple ways I like to harness the power of the breath in my everyday life.
1. Make each breath count.
My favourite way is to count as you breathe in and again as you breathe out. Make your out-breath longer than your in-breath. This promotes relaxation and helps shift your body from the sympathetic nervous system – fight/flight mode to the parasympathetic mode in which your body is at rest. You can use any number that feels comfortable to you. Try counting in for 4 and out for 8 or in for 7 and out for 11. As you practice try and lengthen your breath without forcing it. Experiment with what feels good to you.
A variation on this is to count each complete breath. Congratulate yourself on each completed breath. Let each breath be one step on a staircase to deep relaxation. In labour each completed breath, just like each contraction, is one more step towards meeting your baby.
2. Follow your breath.
If numbers aren’t your thing you may prefer to journey with your breath round your body. Imagine you are the air that is coming into your nostrils and down into your lungs. Notice how it feels to fly in and down to your lungs. Experience the expansion as more air fills the lungs and the gas exchange takes place and oxygen is gifted to your system. Allow yourself to be propelled back gently to the outside airon your out-breath.
Repeat and take your journey further. Follow the oxygen into your muscles, your womb, to your baby. Notice how your body feels to receive you in this way. You may see images of how your body looks inside or you may simply get a sense of where you are. Feel grateful as you return on the out-breath carrying unwanted toxins and carbon dioxide back out of the body and into the air.
Be playful and curious. Let your mind get interested and your body relax. I have always loved the story of Aladdin and was captivated by the magic carpet. Have fun imagining journeying on your own magic carpet, powered by your breath.
3. Charge your breath.
Ever felt a charged atmosphere during an argument? Could cut it with a knife? Consciously change this dynamic by charging your out breath with what is no longer useful to you. You can invite your fears and worries or tension and stress to leave for example. Nature abhors a vacuum so make sure you then charge your in-breath with what you do want instead. Choose a useful resource such as confidence, trust or peace and let it move into your body with the breath.
4. Point of focus.
My favourite is a candle. The flame has an instant calming effect on me, my heart expands in peace and I feel comforted and connected to something pure and sacred. It awakens memories in me of times around the campfire sharing stories and wisdom.
Breathe steadily in and out as you gaze on the flame. Imagine the warmth and light of the flame enters you on your in-breath. Feel it connect to the fire in your own belly, illuminating you from within.
Fire is also purifying. Try gently blowing out your fears with your out breath into the candle flame. As the candle flickers with your breath imagine that the flame is transmuting and purifying those fears, allowing confidence to come in their place.
When you finish you may either allow the flame to burn itself out in its own time, or you may blow it out with an accompanying wish or intention.
5. Let your heart lead.
Without the heart there is no breath yet even before the breath our heart was beating for us. Earlier still, before even our own heart developed there was the steady rhythmic beating of our mother’s heart guiding our development. Listening to a pulsing heart beat has the power to calm and soothe both babies and adults. It is a gateway into the great love and compassion of heart energy.
Use that energy to guide you as you breathe. Place your hand over your heart and feel it beating. If this is hard try placing your fingers on your neck or wrist where you can feel your pulse easily. Begin to connect to your heart beating and allow the love of your heart guide you to release and relax. Let the gentle loving energy of your heart be the leader as you hand over the reins and take long, slow breaths in alignment with your heart .
The inspiration for this invitation comes from the wonderful Indra Singh of Silent Moon Imaginarium. You can listen to her guide you in an emotional breath meditation on periscope here -perfect for those times when you feel you just can’t relax or meditate. (highly recommended , her meditations are powerful.) and she has a wealth of meditations and resources on her You tube channel here.
Aaah, I feel more relaxed just writing this post and will be off to practice breathing as soon as I press publish. I invite you to choose one of these techniques and schedule in a few minutes a day at a time convenient to you and have a go.
Then let me know how you go I would love to hear.