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Breathing Techniques

Hi there!  Welcome to the GLOHS Wellness blog!  My name is Vera and I am a yoga teacher and a business entrepreneur.  Very happy to be sharing my experiences with you on wellness.

I would like to share two very common breathing exercises with you.  I found them come in handy during stressful situations.  They help clear my head and calm my nerves before or after an important meeting.  Both Pranayama (the art of breathing) and Asanas (yoga poses) constitute to only two out of eight limbs of the overall yoga practice. These breathing exercises can be done in the office discreetly during a break or lunch. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana: Nadi = Channel Shodhana = Purification)

As you may know, our left brain governs the rational, analytical side of the brain.  Our right brain governs the creative, artistic side of the brain.  Breathing with alternate nostril restores balance and clarity to both sides of the brain and sends signals to our nervous system to condition our body to relax.  You will feel revitalized.  Here it goes: 

  1. Seated in a comfortable position
  2. Use your right thumb to cover the right nostril, inhale through the left nostril
  3. Then cover the left nostril with your ring finger, exhale through the right nostril
  4. Keep the right nostril open, inhale through the right nostril
  5. Then cover the right nostril with your thumb, exhale through the left nostril
  6. Go back to Step 2

For good results, repeat for at least five rounds. 
The short form: – Inhale Left, Exhale Right, Inhale Right, Exhale Left

You could start with two counts for each breath and slowly work up to about five to six counts each.  The higher the count the more you lengthen your inhalation and exhalation, thus relaxes your nervous system.   

Breath Retention (Kumbhaka: Inhalation, Exhalation and Pauses).

It is a scientific fact that ageing is proportional to our respiratory rate.  Rabbits or mice with higher breathing rates have a shorter lifespan than tortoises with one of the lowest breathing rates on earth and thus can live up to one to two centuries.  Humans are somewhat in the middle.  This breathing exercise helps us practice lengthening our inhalation, exhalation and also our state of rest (aka breath retention or pauses). 

Have you ever felt sweaty in your armpits after a meeting even when the office AC is blasting or felt the urge to grab the nearest chocolate bar and shove it in your mouth?  Then hopefully you will find the next breathing exercise useful, with a little help of imagery:

  1. Seated in a comfortable position
  2. Inhale for a count of four (Imagine creating space in different parts of your body)
  3. Then hold your breath for a count of four (Imagine a peaceful picture, e.g. the beach, a waterfall…etc.)
  4. Exhale everything out on a count of four (Imagine your body softening, releasing all the tensions from your body)
  5. When your lungs are completely empty, hold your breath for a count of four (Imagine a peaceful picture)

Repeat the above for three to four sets.  If four counts seem easy, gradually increase your count as you breathe and hold.  The higher the count, the more you lengthen your inhalation and exhalation.  This could also be practiced as a meditation with closed eyes when you have more time and privacy at home.

By Vera Lynn


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