Stressed about Covid-19? Here are some 15-minute breathing exercises to help
Feeling extra anxious these days? Follow this simple routine to gain an upper hand in curbing worry.
Do you find yourself being more anxious these days? If so, there is no better time to start (or solidify) your breathing practice. Breathing or breathwork is the loose English translation of 'pranayama'. Every cell in our body needs oxygen to function properly. So, it's no surprise that studies show that a regular practice of controlled and mindful breathing can decrease the effects of stress.
Even a short routine of a few minutes a day has been proven to alleviate stress, depression and insomnia, and help you find a way to cope, especially during these unsettling times.
Abdominal breathing is at the centre of any yoga or meditation practice. It is known to manage the symptoms of health conditions as wide-ranging as stress, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and insomnia.
>Lie on your back or sit comfortably.
>Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
>Breathe in through your nose for about two seconds. You should experience the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains relatively still.
>Purse your lips (as if you're about to drink through a straw), press gently on your stomach, and exhale slowly for about two seconds. Your stomach will collapse inwards on exhale.
Repeat this several times, till you feel comfortable with the rhythm.
>Once you become comfortable with the practice of abdominal breathing, you can begin integrating this style of breathing more and more into your life, and throughout your day-to-day activities.
Numbered breathing is good for gaining control over your breathing patterns.
>Focus on inhaling deeply and completely.
>Exhale until you have emptied all air from your lungs.
>Inhale deeply for 4 counts.
>Hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale gently through the mouth for 8 counts.
If this is too much and you want something shorter, then try the following:
>Inhale for 2 seconds.
>Hold the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds.
>And exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds.
'Ujjayi' means victorious breath; it's also referred to as ocean breath due to the sound it creates. By focusing on the breath, it helps immensely in calming the mind.
>Take a steady inhale through both nostrils, and inhale until you reach your lung capacity.
>Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat. The exhalation sounds like an ocean wave.
If you're having trouble getting the right sound for your breath, try this:
>Exhale the sound "haaaaaa" with your mouth open. And now practise the same sound with your mouth closed. Once you have mastered this, use the same method for the inhale as well, gently constricting the back of your throat as you inhale.
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