Ever wonder how many breaths you take per day? Studies show the average person inhales approximately 23, 040 times, yet the majority of that breathing is done from short, constricted chest breathes instead of deep belly breathing.
Stress, anxiety and hurry are typically to blame for our short breathing, but the impact is great. Being mindful of slow, deep breathing is one of the healthiest ways to manage stress, improve sleep, ease pain and stay present in our daily lives.
Here are two deep breathing methods to enhance mental and physical balance:
Yoga-esque: If stress and anxiety have you feeling amped, or you’d simply like to become more mindful of your breathing habits, yoga-esque breathing can help you become more grounded, focused and present in your daily activities. Plus, deep breathing through the nose helps enhance lung function while centering your mind and focusing your intentions, a fantastic habit to develop no matter what your level.
How To Do It:
- No matter what your body position or surroundings are, begin by taking a deep inhale through the nose.
- Inhale for 4-5 counts slowly.
- Exhale over a count of 8.
- Repeat 5-6 times, or as many as you need to center your thoughts, mind and body.
If you’re feeling extra agitated or burdened, try releasing the breath through the mouth with an audible ‘ah’ sound of release and relief. This can be an incredibly therapeutic way to calm the nervous system while releasing the tension, fear and negative emotion you’ve been storing in your body.
4-7-8: Borrowed from the ever wonderful teachings of Dr. Andrew Weil, this technique shifts the autonomic nervous system away from the sympathetic predominance, which is responsible for making our hearts race and our palms sweaty when we face a stressful situation. In short, this breathing exercise is one of the most effective ways to calm your mind and release tension in the body.
How To Do It:
- Sit up straight in a chair.
- Place the tip of your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process.
- Breathe in silently through your nose to the slow count of 4.
- Hold your breath to the count of 7.
- Exhale through your mouth to the count of 8, making a slight audible sound.
Repeat the 4-7-8 cycle another three times, for a total of four rounds.
Deep breathing methods are an excellent way to enhance mental and physical balance as well as increase energy and alertness while simultaneously soothing the nervous system, so next time you feel your tension in your body or tightness in your breathing, take a 2 minute pause to apply one of the breathing techniques listed above, allowing your mind, body and spirit to ‘just breathe’.
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