It’s hard to forget that you need to work out when you’re constantly bombarded with new exercises and diet trends, but the same doesn’t hold true for the mind. Our brain is the most complex organ in our body, but it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. With most of us juggle multiple tasks each day in our work and personal lives, it’s important to incorporate small things into our schedules to help ease the mind. The best thing to do?  Possibly to just take a break and breathe.

If you’ve ever practiced yoga, you know that learning to control your breath is among the first techniques you are taught — this is where Pranayama comes into play. Pranayama is the conscious awareness of breath and the formal practice of controlling breath. When we focus on our breathing, it naturally calms our mind which is so important for those who are always on the go. What’s great about these techniques is that you don’t need to be a yoga enthusiast to use them.  Due to the many benefits, such as helping to purify the blood and respiratory system and also ensuring proper flow of oxygen, it is a simple practice we can all use. Whenever you find yourself needing to put your mind at ease, use these three Pranayama techniques.

If you find yourself getting a little emotional, set aside three minutes, find a comfortable spot and position to sit in. Make sure your spine is up right, stick your tongue out forming a “U” shape, inhale deeply through your tongue, and exhale through your nose.   This is known as the Cooling Breath technique.

For a more intermediate to advance exercise, try the Breath of Fire technique.  Allot yourself no more than seven minutes (30 seconds on, followed by a few deep breaths before starting the next 30 seconds). Take precaution as this is typically not recommended for someone with health concerns, pregnant, or menstruating.  Find a place to sit where you can sit up nice and tall.  The breaths you’ll be taking in this exercise will be short and of equal length.  You will want to keep your mouth closed, exhale while pulling in your abdomen, then inhale immediately.

If you need to increase your focus and lower stress, get in a comfy seated position and set aside five to ten minutes. Rest your left hand on your knee and take the thumb of your right hand to cover your right nostril. Next, take a slow deep breath through your left nostril, then briefly cover your left nostril with your ring finger of your right hand before releasing your thumb and slowly exhaling through the right nostril.  At the end of the exhale, pause before inhaling again through the left nostril. You will want to repeat this for the entire five to ten minutes. I know this can be a little tricky to follow, but there are many videos out there that will provide a quick tutorial on how to achieve this Alternate Nostril Breathing technique.

Although quite simple and not very time consuming, these methods have a powerful impact.  If you commit to these breath control techniques, you will reap the physiological benefits and learn the art of truly letting go. Here’s to letting go of unnecessary tension and allowing more clarity in our lives!

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