Breath is the bridge between the body and the mind. Regulate breath, and the body and mind will follow.
There are moments when things happens. You get so upset you get tunel vision, you start hyper ventilating and...yes, you do/say/write something stupid. Believe me, I know. I've been there. Not one. Not ten, but hundreds of times. I used to work in advertising, an industry where things got awfully bad, awfully fast and for awfully stupid reasons: a celebrity didn't like the hem of a dress, a nail got chipped, your boss hated the font you used on a presentation.
Tired of so much drama creating havoc in my body, I tried loads of methods to calm down quickly. Many sucked, but these 3 simple breathing exercises really helped me regain a certain sense of calm and balance amidst emotional chaos. And the best, they work even if you don't have a meditation or Reiki practice!
BREATHING IN CALM
Sit down with a straight back, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Close your eyes and inhale deeply through the nose as you let your diaphragm expand outward, like an inflated balloon. Let your breath spiral downwards through your chest into your ribs, filling up your lungs. If your mind starts to wanter, keep returning to the sound of your breath. Exhale deeply through the mouth, guiding the navel towards the spine and release. Repeat this for 3 to 5 minutes.
RELAXING BREATH OR THE 4-7-8 BREATHING EXERCISE
This one is from Dr. Weil and it works wonders: it's like a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. On the plus side, it's super simple and can be done anywhere, On the con side, the whooshing sound it creates may want to make you scramble for privacy.
Sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of FOUR.
Hold your breath for a count of SEVEN.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of EIGHT.
This is one breath, now repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths.
If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep the ration of 4:7:8.
This breathing exercise is called Brahmari Pranayama. Brahmari in sanskrit means bee (you'll see why soon) and it's utilized to relieve stress.
Choose a comfortable seating posture.
With your index fingers, close your ears.
Hold your elbows up at shoulders level and close your eyes.
Inhale deeply through your nose.
Exhale through your mouth while creating a humming sound like a bee (come on, don't take yourself so seriously) until your lungs empty.
Inhale again through your nose and repeat this breathing exercise for 10-15 mins.
Nathalie Jaspar is the co-founder at Natky927 Wellness Collective, a group of professional Reiki practitioners supported by life coaches, clinical herbalists and yoga teachers in New York City and Miami.
Photo credit: Ashley Rose via Flickr