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Three Breathing Exercises to Help you Relax Right Now

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

The past couple years have been a lot. Without getting into specifics, I think we can all agree that the years 2020-2022 were an emotional rollercoaster, to put it lightly. Through chats with my friends and family, it’s pretty evident that, as a collective, we are the most anxious and stressed than we have ever been.

I think there are a ton of factors that play into this — because of the pandemic and subsequent loss of human connection, we were faced with the same monotonous day-to-day routines - stuck inside our homes, seeing the same select people. We reached points of complete lack of motivation - both physical and mental - and we dealt with the incessant, nagging anxiety of “do I have covid?”. It comes as no surprise that as a society, we took a huge step back from our collective norm (arguably for the better) but this shift left us reeling, feeling confused and bewildered and maybe even more disconnected than we felt pre-pandemic.

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 again! We finally get to see old friends, hug our grandparents, grab a drink with a coworker we haven’t seen in over a year and we can finally breathe freely at the gym/yoga studio — some of us have even returned to the office!

In general, I feel a massive weight has been lifted. However, this sudden “return to normal” can feel overwhelming. If you feel anxious or uneasy in social settings, know that you're not alone. Almost all of my friends have expressed some form of social anxiety with the world opening back up. We haven’t had to exercise the small-talk muscles in over a year and our hands are still raw and sandpapery from all that Purell they had to endure. In short, the post-pandemic PTSD is real.

When I start to feel these waves of anxiety 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 if it's just for just five minutes.

These systems of breathing can be done anywhere - at home in front of your desk before your big Zoom meeting, 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.

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תגובה אחת

Thank you for these! I am always forgetting to breath.

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