Exhale on a count of four’ is what I distinctly remember during my first experience of a yoga class. Though some may fall in love with the intense stretching and flow of yoga it was actually the deep breathing techniques that we were taught that made me think again about my day to day routine. As a Spa Manager, I am constantly on the go and it often feels like I don’t even stop to take a breath. Breathing is something that is so inherent to us that we only notice ourselves doing it when we begin to struggle.
We actually breathe around 20,000 times a day but most of us take short and shallow breaths. This can result in high levels of carbon dioxide in the body which while not life threatening, does show that someone is not inhaling enough oxygen and therefore limiting the supply of nutrients to the body. The consequence of this can be lethargy, a lack of mental clarity and poor skin quality. This is why all of our spa treatments start with deep breathing – the benefits of the treatment are then much greater. Breathing has a direct and powerful effect on not only the physical health of your body but also the state of your mind.
When taking deep ‘belly breaths’ it is important to engage the whole ribcage and abdominal muscles all while staying mindful and in the moment. Sounds simple right? With its endless benefits, deep breathing doesn’t have to be difficult with my top two deep breathing exercises:
To cool down:
Ever felt so hot that even a glass of cold water wouldn’t help you recover? Whenever I feel stressed or my temperature rising I engage in this ‘cool down’ breathing technique. Simply roll your tongue and breathe in through your mouth. You’ll feel the cold air run through your body. If you can’t roll your tongue, don’t worry. Simply breathing through gritted teeth will have almost the same cooling affect.
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
This is one for the yoga buffs that exercises both the left and right sides of the brain by inhaling deeply through alternate nostrils. While sitting comfortably in a meditative pose (crossed legged on the floor with a straight back), simply hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. Just before you have filled your lungs, close off your left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Continue to alternate between nostrils as you start to feel deeply relaxed.