This week began my six week meditation series I'm offering. My goal in this series is to showcase that meditation can be for anyone and that there are endless techniques to choose from. Too often people think that they can't meditate because they envision just sitting still. Meditation can be that, but it can be so much more. It's a practice designed to give us space. Space to unwind, relax, and open ourselves up to our own inner wisdom. It creates a connection to ourselves and something bigger. When I first began I was just dappling in it, but now it's such a huge part of my life I couldn't imagine living without it. It's something to turn to when I'm stressed, happy, anxious, depressed, looking for guidance, or when I've run out of answers. It's a passion of mine that I've been wanting to share and I'm so excited about this chance to do so.

Our first class was on breath work and I thought I'd share what we went over. Our breath is a powerful tool we can tap into to help shift us into a different space. Each technique listed below is aimed at a different result. Try them out and see if any feels good to you.

Connecting to a Full Breath

Most of us don’t use our full lung capacity and so we become shallow breathers. By learning how to deepen our breath we are able to provide more oxygen to our cells, calm our minds and de-stress, and have more energy. This technique helps us learn how to tap into a full capacious breath. Practice this either lying down or sitting in a chair with your back supported.

  • Begin by placing your right hand over your left side / rib area. Inhale and exhale pushing into that hand, focusing on bringing the breath to the left side. Notice how you can control where the breath goes.
  • Next place your left hand over your right side / rib area. Inhale and exhale focusing on bringing the breath to your right side.
  • Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Focus on bringing your breath to the front of the body. Let the breath move your hands up and down.
  • Then let your hands relax at your sides. Focus on breathing into the back of your body. Notice how breathing with this focus will create pressure against the chair, if sitting, or against the floor, if lying down.
  • Lastly, breathe into the back, front, and sides, taking a full capacious breath. Inhale and exhale like this for a minute or so.

Breath of Fire / Bellows Breath

A yogic breathing technique known to raise energy and increase alertness. It calms the mind while stimulating the body, increasing oxygen and decreasing carbon dioxide.

  • Inhale and exhale rapidly through the nose focusing on the exhale, the inhale should be a natural reaction. Mouth is closed, but relaxed.
  • The exhale comes from quickly pulling in the navel to move the diaphragm. The breath should be audible. Eyes are closed and focused at the third eye point.
  • This technique is challenging so in the beginning only do this for 30 seconds to a minute and 30 seconds.

Minute Breath

This exercise is good for the brain. It’s believed to balance both brain hemispheres and calm the mind. It’s also said to help improve our intuition.

  • Breathe in an equal pattern of inhales, holding the breath, and exhales up to 20 seconds each.
  • Begin by practicing breathing in for 5 seconds, holding for 5 seconds, and exhaling for 5 seconds. Keep increasing the seconds until the breath equals a full minute.
  • Continue with that pattern for 11 minutes.

Square Breathing

This breathing technique is a powerful tool to de-stress and get rid of anxiety. Use this as your first line of defense to combat anxiety.

  • Breathe in to a count of four.
  • Hold in to a count of four.
  • Breathe out to a count of four.
  • Hold out to a count of four.
  • Repeat for 5-10 minutes.

4-7-8 Breath

This technique is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system and is best for relaxation or sleep.

  • Bring the tip of your tongue to the tissue just behind the upper teeth and keep it there for the entire exercise.
  • Begin by exhaling out the mouth around the tongue with a whoosh sound. Inhale quietly for a count of four through the nose, hold the breath for a count of seven, and then exhale out the mouth making a whoosh sound for a count of 8.
  • Repeat 3 times for a total of 4 breaths.