If I told you you could do something to increase your energy levels, anywhere, at anytime without costing you a thing, would you believe me? Better yet, would you do it? What I am talking about it BREATHING. Not just your typical shallow breaths, but true deep inhales and exhales that bathe the cells in your body with the oxygen they need to thrive! Breathing is one of the body’s best way of detoxifying and revitalizing it’s system. However, we tend to only use 10-15% of our total lung capacity during the day! Taking a few moments a couple times a day to re-energize through breath is so important to our health. Here is a simple breathing exericise that you should do at least twice a day or whenever you are feeling bogged down by negative thoughts or stress:
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. When you take a deep breath in, the hand on the abdomen should rise higher than the one on the chest. This is called belly breathing and insures that the diaphragm is pulling air into the deepest part of the lungs.
- Exhale through your mouth and then take a slow deep breath in through your nose imagining that you are sucking in all the air in the room and hold it for a count of 7 (or as long as you can, no longer than 7)
- Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. As all the air is released with relaxation, gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely evacuate the remaining air from the lungs. It is important to remember that we deepen respirations not by inhaling more air but through completely exhaling it.
- Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breaths and try to breathe at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds (or 6 breaths per minute). At this rate our heart rate variability increases which has a positive effect on cardiac health.
Once you feel comfortable with this breathing exercise you can incorporate imagery through saying to yourself “breathing in relaxation” as you inhale and “breathing out stress” while you exhale. The idea is to bring in the feeling/emotion you want with inhalation and release those you don’t want with exhalation. In general, exhalation should be twice as long as inhalation. The use of the hands on the chest and abdomen are only needed to help you train your breathing. Once you feel comfortable with your ability to breathe into the abdomen, they are no longer needed. After just 5 deep breaths you will feel energized and rejuvenated! Try it yourself and I bet you will toss away those horrible energy drinks for this much healthier and cheaper pick-me-up!! In Health and Happiness, Lauren McBride