Incorporating mindfulness into our lives has immense effect not only on our emotions and memory but also on our overall health and wellness. Numerous studies have been conducted, showing that a regular mindful practice improves our happiness levels and reduces stress. But besides the more obvious it helps us also to reduce weight, improve digestion, cardiovascular health, balances our hormones and boosts our immune system besides many other health benefits.
Often the best results are reached through simple techniques and regular (aka daily) practice. For me, I was able to implement a daily meditation practice by starting with 3 minutes and once I formed the habit, I increased it. Daily breathing techniques helped me to improve my focus and memory, reduce stress and increase my energy. There are different techniques which I use at different times.
Below is a “how to” guide to my 6 favorite breathing and meditation techniques and I have put together a video where I demonstrate them and lead you through a short visualization meditation.
Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”
Stand up tall and inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four through the nose.. Once you feel comfortable you can increase equally the in and out breaths to a count of 6,8, 10 or 12. This will calm the nervous system, increase focus, and reduce stress.
Ideally you should take a break every hour and do this for 10 breaths.
Put one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, until it expands the Diaphragm and then let it slowly out. Do so for 3 minutes a day and build up to 10 minutes. You can keep your eyes open or closed.
This is great to calm down your mind especially before events or an exam. It also helps with anxiety ad panic attacks. This can be a stand-alone meditation practice or part thereof.
Close your eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for two to three seconds each. Start with the feet and toes, then move up to the knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyes—all while maintaining deep, slow breaths.
This is a great meditation technique to instantly relax.
Nadi Shodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”
This breath is said to bring calm, balance, and unites the right and left sides of the brain. Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, hold, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb, holding, and exhaling through the left nostril.
One of the best techniques helping to focus or energize. Don’t try this one before sleeping as Nadi shodhana is said to “clear the channels” and make people feel more awake.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply while focusing on pleasant, positive images to replace any negative thoughts. Usually done as a guided meditation you can also do it yourself by visualizing yourself in a nice spot and purposefully see, hear, feel, smell and taste while you are in your favorite spot during a few minutes.
This is helping a lot with goal achievement and positive mood.
Kapalabhati or Breath of fire
This one begins with a long, slow inhale, followed by a quick, powerful exhale generated from the lower belly, contracting the belly to push out the air. Once comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths increasing over time to 3 minutes or even more.
This advanced breathing technique is cleansing, energizing and warming. It is used by many Yogi’s to keep one healthy. Not recommended if pregnant or during the first 2 days of a woman’s cycle.
NB. If you are pregnant or have any health concerns, always check with your medical health care provider if the breathing technique is suitable for you. Not all breathing techniques are for everybody.
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Please comment below on what is your favorite breathing or meditation technique.
By Andrea Caprio, CTNC, CCWC
Founder and CEO of Wellness Methods