Yoga For Women – Three Basic Breathing Exercises to Beat Stress
As a busy working woman your life is full. There are bills to pay, clothes to wash, dreams to pursue, maybe children to care for, work projects to complete and me-time to fit-in.
With so many tasks and activities to complete in a day, how do you mange to stay calm and stress-free. During the course of your day, there will be times when you feel frustrated, upset, overwhelmed and maybe lonely.
Sometimes, the full glory of life hits you right in the face and you do not know what to do.
Maybe you are going through a difficult time in your relationship and you feel drained and low on energy, or your child may be being bullied at school and you wonder how best to support her through this.
When you feel overwhelmed and concerned about personal or work matters, what can you do to keep the gremlins at bay and remain focused, upbeat and creative? How do you maintain your sense of inner calm and tranquility with so many opposing and conflicting demands made on your time?
Your breath is your link to improved health, emotional stability and well-being. Learning how to breathe correctly is vital to help keep you balanced and calm. Ancient yoga philosophy says we are all born with a set number of breaths – therefore, it makes sense to use the breath we have efficiently.
Practice the following three basic yoga breathing exercises anytime during your day, when you feel stressed, tired or exhausted. Better still, why not try waking up a few minutes earlier, picking a breathing practice and trying it out before you engage with your day. That way, you start the day on a much clearer and more focused way.
As with all yoga breathing exercises, be gentle, respect and listen to your body. If you feel uncomfortable, stop the exercise and return to normal breathing.
1. Counted Breath
Sit comfortably, with a nice straight spine and your feet firmly resting on the floor, close your eyes and take a long steady breath in through your nose and slowly breathe out through your nose. Do this for 3 more times as it helps to calm and clear your mind. Next breathe in slowly for a count of three and slowly breathe out for a count of six. Repeat this sequence of breathing in for 3 and out for 6 for 3 – 7 rounds. Slowly open your eyes and be aware of how calm and relaxed you feel.
2. Rainbow Breathing
Sit in a comfortable position, with your spine straight and body relaxed. Close your eyes and visualise a rainbow. See all seven colours of the rainbow. Choose any colour or combination of colours from your rainbow. Imagine slowly breathing in this colour/s through your nose and slowly breathing it out. Allow each breath to gradually deepen and travel throughout your body. Feel the tension in your body leave you as breathe your colour in and around and through your body. Continue with this practice until you feel ready to get up and reconnect with your day.
3. Deep Yogic Breathing Either sit comfortably, arms relaxed, nice straight spine and feet resting firmly on the floor or lie down on your bed. Place your right palm on your lower abdomen and your left palm on your upper chest, just below your collar bones. Breathe slowly in through your nose and as you do so, consciously focus on sending your breath from your right hand up to your left hand, be aware of the hands raising on the in-breath and slowly lowering on the out breathe. Repeat this deep yogic breathing for 3 – 7 more times, each time, allowing the breath to be fuller and deeper.
From personal practice and experience, I find the Deep Yogic Breathing Exercise particularly useful to help me unwind at night-time. When I go to bed, I lie on my bed, put my hands in place and just breathe slowly and deeply; my focus on my hands, moving up and down with each breathe, until I fall asleep. Try it and see how it works for you.
As you practice these breathing exercises, you will find your favourite exercise. Stick with it and see what difference it makes to your mood.