Breathing Through the Holidays

Breathing Through the Holidays

For many of us, the holiday season is a time filled with decorating our homes, hanging twinkle lights, baking cookies, cocktail parties, school functions, final exams, work functions, travel, family, gift buying, wrapping presents, and of course gift giving. Whew!! That’s in addition to our already full schedules of work, family, and activities. Needless to say, it’s a lot.

Have you ever noticed when you are rushed or stressed, your breath changes? Well it does, and not for the better. It becomes shorter and more shallow so our normal relaxed breath, which is deep and even, becomes compromised leaving our inhalations longer than our exhalations. This increases stress and makes us more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, even panic attacks. We become unbalanced.

There is, however, a solution that will bring some much needed serenity to your central nervous system, and you don’t even need a yoga teacher! The practice of 2-to-1 breathing (exhalation is twice as long as inhalation) is a simple breathing technique that helps regulate the motion of the lungs, quieting the body’s nervous system, bringing a sense of peace and tranquility to our overstressed mind, body, and yes- spirit. This is a technique that can be done anytime, anywhere. To get started, sit comfortably with your head, neck, and trunk of your body aligned. If it helps, close your eyes and begin to tune into the movement of your breath, feeling its soft touch at your nostrils. Be aware of the cool touch of the inhalation, and the warm touch of the exhalation. I teach my students to place one hand on the belly, and one hand on the chest so you can actually feel the breath gently moving into your palm at the abdomen.

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Your inhalation moves to the count of 4, and your exhalation to the count of 4. When you are ready, begin to adjust your breath so you are inhaling to the count of 2, and exhaling to the count of 3. The breath may feel a little odd at first, but don’t give up. By simply giving a little more attention to the exhalation, you will notice a difference in how you feel in a very short period of time. After exhaling to the count of three for a bit, extend the breath just a little bit more to the count of 4.  Sometimes, I practice this breath at my desk, or laying on my back in bed if I am having trouble sleeping. I’ve even done this breathing technique while stuck in traffic!

This is a great practice to do for 3 to 5 minutes everyday, to reduce stress. You can also do it at bedtime to help unwind after a long day. Simply lay on your back with your palms on your upper belly, and feel your breath move into and out of your palms, paying attention to and extending your exhalation. It only takes a few minutes and you will feel calmer and more relaxed.

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I love this girl!! She is always willing to be my model, even when it is freezing cold outside!!

Have a great week! ~May

When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace. ~Author Unknown

 

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