We are huge believers in taking your breath off “auto-pilot” and breathing manually to give yourself some calm and thought we’d leave it to the expert today to give you some insight! Please enjoy this guest blog by our friend, Melissa Novack Friedman!
In today’s world, we are busy, moving too fast, and often incredibly stressed out. This frenetic sense of “busyness” often results in us neglecting to slow down, take time to be calm and mindful, and to simply take big, deep breaths. As a result, it is more important than ever to search for ways to calm your mind and relax your body. Yoga and deep breath work (pranayama) can be a welcome break from the pressures of everyday life and serve to settle the nervous system, create more “presence” to your day, and calm your busy body and brain.
How to Do Calm Breathing The Simple Way!
Calm breathing involves taking smooth, slow and regular breaths. Sitting upright is usually better than lying down or slouching, because it can increase the capacity of your lungs to fill with air. It is best to ‘take the weight’ off your shoulders by supporting your arms on the side-arms of a chair, or on your lap.
- Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly (for about 4 seconds)
- Hold your breath of 1 or 2 seconds
- Exhale slowly through the mouth (for about 4 seconds)
- Wait a few seconds before taking another breath
About 6-8 breathing cycles per minute is often helpful to decrease anxiety, but find your own comfortable breathing rhythm. These breath cycles are designed to regulate the amount of oxygen you take in which results in calming your mind and your body.
A Yoga Sequence to Calm your Body and Mind!
Practice this sequence right when you wake up or when it is time for bed. It should take about 10 minutes to complete.
Move slowly in and out of the poses, allowing a deep connection with your breath in each and every pose.
Keep your breath smooth and even throughout the practice, extending the length of the inhales as well as the length of the exhales.
Never strain or force yourself beyond your current abilities. Yoga is a practice that takes time and commitment and with each practice, your body becomes stronger and stronger.
First, lay Child’s pose (Balasana):
Pause in this pose for 3-5 breathes, feeling your belly and heart center expand on the inhale and release on the exhale.
Next move into Cat (Marjariasana)/Cow (Bitilasana) Pose
Inhale as you open your heart and spread your collar bones apart in cow post (gazing up to the sky) and exhale as you tuck your chin toward your chest and pull your shoulder blades apart. Alternative through these two poses for a few revolutions, always inhaling and opening the heart for cow pose and exhaling and scooping the belly in and up for cat pose.
End your revolutions of cat/cow pose in table top position. From here inhale and plant the left hand underneath the shoulder and open the right arm towards the sky, rolling the right shoulder down onto your back. Exhale as you come back through center. Inhale and alternate to the left side. Continue to move through right and left for a few revolutions, staying steady with the breath.
Following this make your way into Downward Facing Dog (Adho Much Svanasana):
Step 1: From tabletop/hand and knees position, spread your palms and finger, turn your toes under, and lift your knees away from the floor.
Step 2: Keep a slight bend in your knees while you lift your tailbone slightly away from your pelvis, towards the sky.
Step 3: Push your top thighs back and pictures lifting them off of your knee caps. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them and then allow your heals to move closer to the floor.
Step 4: Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers strongly onto the mat. Guide the inner elbows toward the front of the room so to firm your shoulder blades onto your back. Maintain your head between your upper arms so that your neck does not hang and send your gaze between your knees.
Step 5: Maintain this strong pose for 3-5 breaths.
Come back to Child’s Pose for 3-5 breaths. Choose to take the sequence again or not.
-Melissa Novack Friedman, Owner of True Mind + Body Wellness Center