Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Breathing In What You Need, Out What You Don't

I was reminded of a great breathing technique in my yoga class the other day, so I thought I'd share it here. Alternate nostril breathing is easy to do and takes just a minute of your time (though you might end up spending several minutes a day doing it once you get into the rhythm of it.)

Here's how you do it: Place your thumb and ring finger on either side of your nose. Allow your index and middle fingers to rest between your eyebrows. Start by using your ring finger to close one nostril. Breathe through the remaining open nostril. Now, close the nostril with your thumb (the one you just breathed in through), open your ring finger nostril, and breathe out. Repeat the same process, but in reverse, breathing through your ring finger nostril, and exhaling out the thumb side. Simple, yes?

Once you've got the breathing rhythm down, you can add an intention to your breathing. Ask yourself what do I want to let go of, what do I want to make room for? An anti-anxiety intention might involve breathing in self-confidence, breathing out listening to anxiety. An anti-depression intention could feel like breathing in action, breathing out isolation. A sleep-inducing mantra might involve breathing in sleepiness or heaviness, breathing out restlessness. Breathing in messiness and exhaling perfectionism could fit for someone struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder. You can tailor your intention to fit your unique challenges of the moment. My never-finished intention for acceptance is to breathe in satisfaction for what I have, breathing out envy for what I don't.

You gotta breathe, right? Alternate nostril breathing can take some of the load off of you, and allow your breathing to give something back.


Aaron Hoopes said...

thanks for reminding people the importance of this.

Shannon said...

You're welcome. Breathe on!