I have found it very beneficial to get into the habit of shifting your awareness to your breath whenever you find yourself caught up in thoughts or feelings of anxiety, guilt, anger, or unhappiness.
Conscious regulation of breath is the single most effective relaxation technique I know. It is simple, requires almost no time, no equipment, and can be done anywhere. So, are you ready to give it a try? Come on, what can it hurt. Follow the instructions below and let the relaxation begin to flow. Are you ready? Ok, let us begin.
How do you feel? More relaxed? Great. Please note exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. It's not important how long you spend in each phase but it is important to keep the ratio of 4:7:8. If you have difficulty holding your breath, speed up the exercise but maintain the ratio of 4:7:8. With continued practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This particular breathwork technique is like a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. It is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. I would recommend you do it twice daily. However, for the first month of practice I suggest you do no more than four breaths at a time. You can increase to eight breaths later if you like.
After four breaths, you may notice a shift in consciousness, a feeling of detachment, lightness, or dreaminess. Don't be alarmed by this as it is a sign you are affecting your involuntary nervous system and neutralizing stress. You may be asking yourself the reason for keeping the tongue in a particular position. The answer is Yoga philosophy. Yogis describe two nerve currents in the human body, one positive, electric, and solar, the other negative, magnetic, and lunar. These begin and end at the tip of the tongue and the ridge behind the upper front teeth. Putting the two in contact is supposed to complete a circuit keeping the energy of the breath within rather than letting it dissipate. I'm not sure of the validity of this idea but since yogis have been doing this exercise for thousands of years, I find it worthwhile to follow their instruction.
Now that you know how to perform this valuable breathwork
technique, why not utilize it when something upsetting happens, before
you react in a situation, when you are aware of internal tension, or to
help you fall asleep. Everyone can benefit from this technique. So
please give it a try and enjoy the relaxing benefits.
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