Take a moment to acknowledge the power of your breath. From projecting over a crowd at a noisy networking event to helping you release a long sigh after a frazzled work day, breath is your life force. Learning how to use your breath as a tool, not just a concept your yoga teacher encourages, is where your power lies.
Our bodies are equipped with all we need to powerfully reframe our mind through our breath. Intentional breathing is proven to improve overall health including encouraging better sleep, decreasing depression and anxiety and stabilizing the heart, captured in this article by Scientific American.
Where to start? Learn to harness your breath (your life force) in a few simple steps.
It begins with awareness when you experience or feel:
- Tense, stressed or overwhelmed
- Tightness in your body (your neck, shoulders, hips or jaw are often the first place this occurs)
- Exhausted, constantly sleepy, unmotivated
Try this six-step routine:
- Feel your feet. Now, feel your feet against the floor. Take a moment to feel what you feel. (Note anything that might give you a sense of grounding, whatever that means for you.)
- Close your eyes (or gaze downward toward your lap) and inhale for three slow counts, exhale for three slow counts and repeat five to six cycles of this mindful breath.
- Continue breathing and let your jaw relax (move it a little side to side if it helps) and let your tongue relax down if it is touching your upper palate (gums).
- Mindfully and softly correct your posture, think about aligning your head on top of your neck and shoulders.
- Feel for any sensation of relaxing in your shoulders (try putting your hands down at your sides and feel the weight of gravity pull your arms downward).
- Relax your abs (let go of any tension you are holding or feel in there).
Give yourself another few mindful breaths to feel whatever sense of relaxation you may feel come over you. Think of this new relaxed state of being as your new “Power Pose”.
After 15 years of practicing yoga (let’s be honest, that was always on and off), I made a new commitment to myself. Five years ago, I was working in an executive level role in a global company and in the midst of deadlines, endless travel and a journey of infertility treatments. I was anxious, overwhelmed and stressed — all the time. I started a private yoga practice, acupuncture and a path to slowing down, literally. My long run days turned into long walk days and my hustle for work turned into a hustle for protecting my quiet time. And when I started my business two years ago, part of the commitment to myself was learning to continue that path. I’ve added a few more tools through Level 1 Reiki certification, longevity breathing workshops and studying QiGong and Tai Chi.
If I could go back to give the me of ten years ago one piece of advice, it would be to slow down. (Enter Billy Joel’s Vienna, if you haven’t listened to it, pay attention to those lyrics). No matter your path, give these mindful steps a try and consider the daily power you are bringing to your longevity.