3 Simple Breathing Exercises To Help You Unwind
The stress levels we have today are at least 100 times the stress levels of our grandparents. We get it from every angle as I’ve written about in another post (How Stress Hinders Your Weight Loss Efforts) Here I’ll outline 3 simple breathing exercises you can practice before going to sleep to help you unwind and have a deeper and higher quality of sleep.
1) Leg Tucks
Lie in bed or anywhere, really. Bend your knees, close your eyes and grab the back of your thighs right by your knees (to avoid compressing the knees). Take a deep breath into your belly and start pulling your knees towards your chest. Begin exhaling as soon as you start pulling your legs. Exhale very slowly and match the movement of pulling your legs to your breath. Time it so by the time your legs reach your chest, you completely exhale all the air from your lungs. Now slowly begin inhaling as you lower your legs. You can stop short of actually resting your legs on the bed (or floor) and begin exhaling and tucking your legs. The slower you do this the more relaxed you will become.
Do as many as you feel are beneficial (aiming for 12 or more, up to 100)
2) Deep Belly Breathing
For this, you will also need to get in the same position as above (lying on your back with knees bent) but keep your feet on the bed/ground. Close your eyes and take a deep breath into your belly, while imagining that you’re trying to touch your belly to the ceiling. Take as deep of a breath as you possibly can without elevating your rib cage. Work at keeping it contained all the air in your tummy. Exhale just as slowly expelling all the used air from your system. In your mind’s eye, imagine that your tummy sinks down towards your spine leaving no air behind.
Perform as many deep breaths as needed but aim for 12+.
3) Left Nostril Breathing
If you’re still awake after doing the above exercises, take your right thumb and place it at the opening of your right nostril, completely blocking it. Continue doing the Deep Belly Breathing through your left nostril only. This will target and activate your parasympathetic nervous system more effectively, signalling your body to produce more relaxation hormones.
Alternatively, if you’re at work or somewhere else where you feel “worked up”, you can do this sitting in a chair, in your car (make sure you’re parked!) or anywhere else. You’ll still get benefits as long as you stop before you actually pass out and hurt yourself falling down.
What other techniques do you use to help you feel relaxed?