Save these 3 conscious breathing exercises to find calm in the middle of chaos.
I have recently returned from two incredible weeks in Colombia celebrating a friend's marriage. On the way there, our plane was hit by severe turbulence to the point of feeling like it was actually going to fall (😳). So much so, that despite me being a somewhat experienced travel that doesn't scare easily, I was left with my palms sweating and slightly shaking.
Upon my return to the UK, I was obviously not looking forward to experiencing that kind of turbulence again so I was nervous and restless boarding the plane. It was a night flight and I knew I needed to sleep at least 3 to 5 hours so I could be somewhat ready for work the following day...
I settle on my seat, the meal is served, and soon the lights on the plane are turned off so people drift off to sleep. I am now in complete alert mode, trying to notice any turbulence and anxious about going through the same incident as the last flight.
At this point, I knew rest was not going to come easy...
I kept falling asleep only to be startled awake by the smallest movement. But jetlag is a killer and I *really* had to be somewhat aware and conscious to start working the following day, so I employed one of my favourite calming breathing techniques - abdominal breathing (which I'll describe later on, so keep reading!).
Soon, I was immersed in my breath and could no longer notice my surroundings, I managed to fall asleep and rest peacefully for about 4 hours (not bad, considering the plane discomfort)
Breathing exercises such as the one I used on the plane really work to slow down our thoughts and can be absolute lifesavers to survive our hectic lives.
In this post, I share a few of my top favourites that I use daily to find some peace of mind. They are:
Prānāyāma: the yogic way of breathing and the secret to a calm, controlled mind
The abdominal breathing exercise I used to calm myself down is only a small sample of the wisdom of Prānāyāma, one of the 8 limbs of yoga and a subject we always touch on and practice during our online yoga classes.
Put simply, Prānāyāma consists of energetic and conscious breathing exercises that aim to relax your mind (so you're able to access higher states of consciousness) and fill your entire being with the vital energy you need to live your best life.
➡️ Continue reading for three of these conscious breathing exercises that you can use daily for more peace or to put into practice when you next face a stressful situation:
# 1 Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing
Lay down on your back or sit in a comfortable position. Notice your abdomen placing one of your hands there. Breathe in feeling your abdomen expand; breathe out and feel it contract. Repeat this process, focusing completely on your breath.
The lower part of our lungs is able to store a greater quantity of oxygen which will contribute to a more oxygenated brain and therefore, a more relaxed mind.
# 2 Full Breath Retention
Once again, lay down or sit in a comfortable position. Then breathe in filling your entire lungs - from the diaphragm to the thorax. Hold your breath in, and then exhale emptying your lungs completely. Repeat this exercise for 5 to 10 minutes as means to lower stress and anxiety levels.
After you've become a bit more experienced you can add a rhythm to this exercise. For example, breathing in for 5 seconds, holding the breath in for 10 seconds, and exhaling for also 10 seconds.
# 3 Alternate breathing exercise
This one is slightly more complicated but incredibly effective if you're seeking balance, more energy and mental clarity.
Sitting down comfortably, with your right hand, close one of your nostrils, then breathe in filling your lungs completely. Hold your breath in for a few seconds and move to close your other nostril, exhaling through the nostril that was previously closed. Continue this process, alternating between nostrils with your lungs full.
NOTE: if you need more guidance and information about any of these exercises read our previous blog Learn how to breathe - 3 tips & tricks from a Yogi .
Finding a moment of peace in today's rushed society is incredibly challenging, but I hope these exercises can become powerful tools to bring calm and clarity to your hectic life.
Until my next blog post, love & light,
Learn to breathe consciously and bring calm to your chaotic and stressed mind.
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About the author
Hi! I'm Cat, the founder of Yogaful Studio. My mission is to elevate your body and mind so you can live a better life - with less stress, more purpose, joy, and love. So if you have a demanding job and a hectic life running miles an hour, this is the place for your to find rest, balance, and peace.