Most people don’t do too much thinking about breathing.
Breathing is something we do all day, every day, for the entirety of our lives. Breathing keeps us alive and it’s a part of our experience from the moment we are born until the moment we pass on into the great beyond.
But despite all of this, our breath is something that’s so common and involuntary that it’s easy to ignore.
That is, unless you take the time to notice it.
If you make an effort to notice your breathing, and to honor it through a regular and focused breathing practice, you can enjoy many benefits.
Pranayama and Its Many Benefits
You may have heard of the yogic practice of pranayama. Pranayama practice offers a variety of breathing exercises that can be helpful to your physical and mental well-being. Taking time to focus upon and to control your breath through different breathing techniques can help to quiet your busy mind.
As a result, you may experience a reduction in feelings of anxiety and depression, an increase in energy levels, and a decrease in stressful and overwhelming emotions. Studies have shown that deep breathing can lower your heart rate, leading you to feel more relaxed. It can help you get a better night’s sleep, thereby making your daily tasks easier. And, it can help people to cope with conditions like PTSD and similar issues as well.
The many benefits of pranayama practice can be a great help to you during your recovery from addiction. Many people in recovery struggle with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other issues that can be relieved through focused breathing.
Read on to learn more about establishing a breathing practice in your own life. After a short time, you’ll experience the benefits, and you’ll be glad that you made an effort to try it.
How to Establish a Daily Breathing Practice
It may seem strange at first to set aside a specific time each day to breathe. After all, you’re breathing all day. However, when you begin a breathing practice, you’ll benefit during the practice itself, and you’ll become more aware of your breath during the rest of your daily activities as well. The establishment of a breathing practice will soon expand into the rest of your life, too.
When to Practice
The time of day that you practice breathing doesn’t really matter, although a lot of practitioners choose to do it in the morning. Every day you get a fresh start, and what better way to begin your day than with deep breaths? This daily practice of renewal will help you to set the tone for the day ahead. When you’ve finished your breathing exercises, you’ll be ready to take on the world.
It’s also nice to practice breathing at the end of the day. We all go through so much over the course of a day, it’s nice to create a bedtime ritual as a sort of closing ceremony for yourself. Breathing before bed can give you a chance to focus the mind and will help to prepare you for a night of rest.
A breathing practice doesn’t have to be a long and involved event. Even just five to ten minutes of breathing in the morning and at night can make a great difference in your life. If these times seem too long at first, try one or two minutes and build from there.
How to Practice
You can practice breathing anywhere you like. However, some of the exercises can be loud and can seem strange to outside observers; you’ll likely want to practice somewhere private at first.
Wear comfortable clothing and get in a comfortable position. Many people like to practice breathing sitting up, but others prefer to lie down. You can sit in a chair or on the floor, and you can lie down in your bed or on the floor. Whatever feels right to you is perfect.
You might want to blow your nose before you begin and you may also want to keep some tissues nearby.
When you practice breathing exercises, don’t strain. The breath should come naturally and it should feel comfortable to you. If you feel uncomfortable or anxious during your practice, take a break before you begin again.
There are many different breathing exercises you can try. Some are invigorating; others are relaxing. Depending on your mood and needs, you may choose different exercises for different occasions and emotions. Once you learn a few, you’ll be better able to determine which exercises work best for you for all situations.
Here are a few to get you started:
Most of us breathe in a shallow manner throughout each day. We know that when we do take a great big deep breath that it feels great. Why don’t we do it more often?
Deep breathing is great for anxiety and stress reduction. It can slow the heartbeat and can make you feel calmer. It can also help you to fall asleep.
To practice deep breathing, sit and relax. Focus on your breath. Breathe in deeply, filling your entire ribcage as you count to four. Then, slowly release the breath completely as you count to four again. Continue for several minutes.
Box breathing is another way to practice deep breathing. This time, inhale completely as you count to four. Hold your breath for four counts, and then empty your lungs entirely as you count to four again. Finally, count to four before you take another big breath in.
Keep going! You’ll be amazed at how relaxed you feel after a few minutes of box breathing.
Ujjayi breathing will help you to become more conscious of your breath. This breath is also known as the ocean-sounding breath in yoga practice. Ujjayi breath is a strong, deep, focused breath like the others, but you’ll intentionally constrict the back of your throat a bit so your breath makes a clear sound like the ocean’s waves on both your inhale and exhale. You’ll feel it go in and out, and you’ll feel much more powerful and focused overall.
Skull Shining Breath
One more advanced breathing technique that has been used for thousands of years to build energy and to promote a feeling of confidence is called the skull shining breath. Don’t let the name scare you, but you’ll find it quite fitting.
To practice this type of breathing, you’ll forcefully breathe out in short, staccato breaths. Your inhales will be rather involuntary; they’ll happen automatically in response to your short and rapid exhales. This is a challenging breathing exercise to explain, but it’s quite easy in practice.
After a session of this type of breathing, also known as kapalbhati, you’ll feel ready to take on anything that comes your way.
These are just a few examples of breathing exercises you can use to create the perfect breathing practice for your life. There are many more; there are breathing exercises out there for every mood and emotion. Take the time to discover a new one each week and then figure out which ones work best for you.
Stick with it; you may be tempted to give up your breathing practice after a short time, but it is through ongoing practice that you will begin to see and experience results. Soon you’ll wonder why you waited so long to begin and you’ll wonder why not everyone has a breathing practice of their own.
Enjoy and good luck. Focused breathing will change your life, and will be an excellent tool that you can take with you anywhere, anytime, to help support your recovery.
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