Monday, March 14, 2011

Challenge 3 - Breath Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (Pranayama)

Pranayama is "breath" or the "extension of life force." The definition sounds more mystical than the action of breathing. When it comes down to it, you must breath to live and we live because we breath. Breathing exercises can help increase lung capacity, encourage more oxygen levels in the body, alleviate physical and mental disorders. (Citations: European Respiratory Journal, ScienceDaily)  Livestrong outlines the benefits of breathing exercises. Also, breathing exercises are free, low-impact, and convenient.

Purpose is breath control.

Challenge: Engage in 3, 5, or 10 minutes of pranayama before breakfast, lunch, and dinner this week. If you can only do it once during the day then try to do it mid-day and quiet your mind in the middle of the hustle and bustle.

Application: Belly breath at your desk, in the bathroom, waiting in line, or on public transportation. Close your eyes, breath through your nose, make your inhales & exhales even and steady, and fill your belly with air on inhale/empty belly on inhale.

Go Above and Beyond with other pranayama exercises, changes your breathing patterns:
  • Breath/Sound: Breath in deeply and on exhale chant the sound "Ommm" or any other natural sound that comes to you. Repeat.
  • Forceful Exhale: Brightens your brain. Inhale gently and naturally. Exhale forcefully while pushing up and in with the stomach muscles. Repeat and increase speed of exhales.
  • One nostril at a time: Use the thumb and pinkie fingers to hold down one nostril at a time. Alternative between breathing in through one nostril and out through another. Left, Right, Right, Left --> Right, Left, Left, Right. Repeat.
  • Three Part (Stomach, Ribs, Chest): Inhale expand/lift 3-parts and Exhale lower/contract 3-parts.
  • Back breathing: Rest in child's pose (sitting on heel, forehead to the ground), to gain full body breath, concentrate on breathing into your back/kidney area.

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