Yoga, meditation and all athletic activities depend on our ability to control and pay attention to our breath, the very foundation of life. But even if you are not engaged in a regular practice, adopting a few simple breathing exercises can provide enormous benefits for both your body and mind.
Benefits of breath work
- The positive health benefits of conscious breathing include:
- Reduced stress and tension
- Reduced anxiety, depression and negative emotions
- Improved cognition
- Improved concentration
- Enhanced creativity
- Increased feelings of love, peace and joy
- Sense of inner calm
- Improved overall health
A simple breathing exercise
Breathing meditation calms the mind, body and spirit. Simply paying attention to your breath will make you aware of shallow breathing, and as you do, you’ll begin to breathe more deeply. As your breathing deepens, your mind will follow, becoming clearer and more tranquil.
- Pick a place where you can be alone or undisturbed. It can be an empty room, a garden, a park—anywhere you can take a few moments of quiet concentration.
- Stand or sit in a comfortable position.
- Keep your spine and neck straight.
- Relax your shoulders and open your chest.
- The eyes may be closed or open—whichever you prefer
- Try to empty your mind of distracting thoughts and feelings.
- Breathe slowly and deeply.
- Focusing on the gently rhythm of your breath, let your body and mind relax.
- If distracting thoughts and feelings surface, don’t judge them, just let them go.
One step further
Your breath work will be even more productive if you combine it with meditation and yoga asanas as part of a complete holistic practice.