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Three Breathing Exercises to Help you Relax Right Now

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

This past year(s) has been a lot. We don’t need to get into the specifics of all the ways the past couple years have been f*cked up. Through chats with my friends and family, it’s pretty evident that, as a collective, we are the most anxious/stressed than we have ever been.

I think there are a ton of factors that play into this — with the pandemic/quarantine alone — the loss of human connection, the monotonous day-to-day stuck inside our homes, seeing the same select people, the lack of motivation (both physical and mental) and the constant anxiety of “do I have covid?” — just to name a few. No wonder our brains are scrambled.

With a happier flip of the coin, I’ve seen a huge shift with the world opening back up and many of us getting vaccinated. A lot of us are experiencing happiness! We finally get to see old friends again, we can go grab a drink with a coworker we haven’t seen in over a year, we can finally breathe freely at the gym/yoga studio — some of us have even returned to our offices.

In general, I feel a massive weight has been lifted. HOWEVER. This sudden “return to normal” is a bit much if we’re being honest. It’s almost overwhelming to be in a social setting for an extended period of time. We haven’t had to exercise the small-talk muscles in over a year and it can feel draining and induce a certain level of anxiety. In short, the post-pandemic PTSD is real.

When I’m feeling the waves of stress slowly start to creep in, or when I’m feeling overwhelmed with life in general, there are a lot of tactics I try to fall on to help me out of a funk. The most effective and often-times quickest method I find genuinely helps (usually right away) is remembering my breath.

I’m hoping these guided breathing techniques can help you feel more at ease even for just five minutes. They can be done anywhere - at home in front of your desk before your Zoom call - driving in the car while your kids scream in the backseat -at the beach when your Sunday Scaries hit - literally anywhere.

Enjoy and let me know if these techniques helped you!

Xoxo Lulu

4-7-8 Breathing

  1. Get in comfortable seated position

  2. Exhale completely

  3. Inhale through nose for a count of four

  4. Hold breath for a count of seven

  5. Exhale audibly through the mouth for a count of eight as slowly as possible

** Repeat for four cycles

Alternate Nostril Breathing

  1. Sit in a comfortable seated position

  2. Elongate the spine so you are seated nice and tall

  3. Inhale slowly, filling the lungs and chest with air

  4. Pinch your nose closed with your right ring finger and thumb, holding the breath inside for a moment

  5. Keeping your right ring finger closed over your left nostril, release thumb over right nostril and slowly exhale through the right nostril

  6. Inhale again slowly through the right nostril

  7. Pinch your nose closed again with right ring finger and thumb

  8. Hold the breath for a few moments

  9. This time, release right ring finger over the left nostril, keeping thumb over right nostril and exhale through the left nostril

  10. Inhale again slowly through the left nostril

  11. Pinch your nose closed again with right ring finger and thumb

  12. Repeat cycle

** Continue this exercise for about 10 breaths and continue from there on if desired. Each cycle should take about 40 seconds.

Ujjayi Pranayama - aka Ocean Breath

  1. Sit in a comfortable seated position

  2. Elongate your spine long and straight through the crown of the head

  3. Bring hands to knees (optional to bring pointer fingers to thumbs in a Jnana Mudra)

  4. Close your eyes and settle in

  5. Exhale fully

  6. Begin Ujjaya breath:

  7. Begin inhaling slowly and steadily through the nose

  8. Fill the lungs up completely with air (do not puff out the belly while doing so — this is a different breathing technique)

  9. Abdomen should be completely pulled back towards spine

  10. Hold the breath for a moment

  11. Slowly, deeply and steadily, begin exhaling. As you exhale, you should feel the air passing through the roof of your mouth. This friction of air passing through the palate should create an ocean-like sound. Keep awareness on the abdomen while slowly releasing the breath and diaphragm after a few seconds

  12. After fulling exhaling, begin another long, steady inhalation

  13. Repeat this cycle for 5 to 10 cycles

  14. Finish up this breathing exercise with a nice little savasana on the ground!

** Ujjaya pranayama can be done lying down or seated and at any time of day/night. It is a great exercise to practice to simply quiet the mind and ground you.

  • Light on Yoga -B.K.S. Iyengar

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