PRACTICE U: FOR YOU!

 
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Breath work 101:
mmindful breathing techniques
for stress reduction & BETTER SLEEP

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image: flcker.com

image: flcker.com

THE DIAPHRAGM & LUNgs

It’s important to get oxygen into our lungs so that our minds and bodies can
function at their best. Understanding how the diaphragm and lungs work will
help to understand how breath comes into the body.

The Lungs are like balloons that expand out in all directions as they fill with air.
They deflate when air is pushed out of them. You can sense the lungs filling and expelling air by holding onto your ribs. Our rib bones expand as the intercostal
muscles that hold our rib bones together stretch with the inflation and deflation
of our lungs.

The Diaphragm is like a trampoline that relaxes down as the air enters the lungs when we INHALE. When the air leaves the lungs, during EXHALATION, the diaphragm moves up and you can imagine that it pushes the air up and out!

As we inhale, the lungs expand which we can sense by the expansion of the rib cage. The ribs expand because the intercostal muscles that hold
the ribs together move outward as the lungs fill with air. When we focus on the sensation of our breathing and our lungs expanding and contracting, we are able to relax as a result. Here are some simple Breathing or Pranayama exercises.

3 breathing exercises (pranayama)

 
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#1:
Easy Breath Foundation

We’ve seen dogs panting with their mouths open. That way of breathing revs up our nervous systems which builds stress in the body. To reduce stress, we keep our mouths closed and breathe in and out of our nostrils. Relax your jaw and keep face muscles soft and let the air move in and out. Advance this easy breath to what is called Jalandara by constricting the back of the throat thus making the breath more audible to sound like the ocean, or Darth Vader. Focus on the sound and sensations in your torso as you do.

#2:
Basic Breath Practice

Sit tall, lie down flat or be recline at an angle supported by pillows or props. Place both hands on your belly. Keeping your mouth closed and breathing through your nostrils, inhale to let air into your lungs and let your belly and rib cage fill out into your hands. When you exhale and push the air out of your lungs, gently push the belly back towards your spine. As you continue to breathe like this, notice that as the belly expands and contracts your chest naturally lifts and lowers as well.

 
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#3:
Full Breathing for Relaxation & Better Sleep

Sit tall, lie down flat or be recline at an angle supported by pillows or props. Place one hand on belly and the other on your heart. Through the nostrils, inhale and exhale 5 - 10 breaths, and experience the full expansion of your torso as a result of your breath.

OR

With one hand on your belly and the other on your heart, take in 1/3rd breath into your belly and pause, then take in 1/3rd more air filling up to your belly, then 1/3rd more air to completely fill up to your chest and hold. Then slowly let 1/3rd air out of chest, then another 1/3rd to belly, then the final 1/3rd of air completely out of belly, then repeat.