Exercise Good Breathing

Deep breathing may require conscious effort, especially when our lifestyles don’t lend themselves to it. “Most of us are slumped over our computers where we can’t expand our belly or pay attention to our breath,” Barnett notes. It takes determined mindfulness, she says, to make healthy breathing a habit. To that end, exercises can help.

Ashley Turner offers a visual interpretation of a deep breath. She suggests thinking of the breath as moving upward, then sideways, then down, then sideways again to form a square. Her exercise (to be repeated five times):

“Close your eyes. Turn your attention inward. Notice the body, where you are tense, where you are constricted. Close your mouth and inhale through the nose, focusing upward for four counts. Pause and visualize moving sideways for four counts. Now exhale down for four counts. And pause for four more counts to complete the square.”

Len Kravitz, Ph.D., coordinator of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque (unm.edu), offers the following advice: “For Pranayama breathing, always try to expand the abdominal area. One technique is to place a hand on the front of the stomach and, as you breathe, push on the hand. Try this in a standing position. Or, place the hands just below the ribs and, in a sitting or standing position, try to push the hands away from the ribs as you breathe.”

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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