Many of us can have moments where we feel overwhelmed by our thoughts, emotions, and the sensations around us. Introducing this mindfulness practice into your daily life will give you a moment of intentional pause that can help in times of worry, and distress. It is placing awareness on the natural occurrence of your breathing and is quite simple.
“A very common foundational practice that every mindfulness training program has is mindfulness of breathing: taking an observational stance to the ongoing occurrence of your breath,” says Amishi Jha, Ph.D. To begin your practice of mindful breathing, here are three foundational and impactful breathwork practices that you can use anytime.
Improving Focus and Concentration
First, is to establish the foundation of your breathwork practice. Take a mindful body scan that is guided by your breath and use this when you want to feel more present and in-the-moment. This will also help you soothe your nerves and anxiety. Do this often to cultivate a deeper connection to your mind and body.
How to do it: You can do this breathing exercise sitting, standing, or laying down on your back. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Simply notice and become aware of your breath and body. Start bringing your awareness from the bottom of your body and work your way up. Engage in a cycle of beath as you mindfully scan each body part from your feet to your head. You can take as long as you like or set a timer for one to five minutes.
Feeling Calm and Balanced
Alternate Nostril Breath can bring a sense of calm and balance throughout your body and mind. According to Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., one of the alternate nostril breath benefits is that it may lower stress. A 2013 study found that people who practiced it lowered their perceived stress levels. By doing this breathing exercise, it can help you feel less anxious, less stressed and you will feel more in-tune with yourself.
How to do it: Begin by exhaling completely. Then close your left nostril with your ring finger and inhale for a count of four. Then switch and cover your right nostril with your thumb as you exhale through your left nostril for five counts. Repeat by breathing in through your left and exhaling through your right nostril. You can eventually extend the breath counts up to 10. Go with what feels natural and repeat as many times as you like.
Boosting Your Energy
Having an energizing breathwork practice like Kapalabhati Breath will be beneficial to you. It is a cleansing technique that invokes a rapid breath cycle alternating short, forceful exhalations with reactive inhales. This is a potent breathing exercise that brings a rejuvenating feeling, which is useful for when you need a mood-booster.
How to do it: Place two hands on your lower stomach and exhale completely. Start with an inhale, then a powerful and forceful breath out, drawing the navel in towards your spine. Allow the inhale to fill your lungs as a natural response to the exhalation. Start slowly and find a comfortable rhythm. Set a timer for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat two to three times and when you’re done, allow a cleansing round of breath to wash over you.