- Jennifer Coulombe
Energizing Breathing Exercises to Conquer Your Day
“When you understand who and what you are, your radiance projects into the universal radiance and everything around you becomes creative and full of opportunity.” - Yogi Bhajan
All life starts and ends with our breath. However, most people do not breathe properly; quick, shallow upper chest breathing wins the race over slow, deep diaphragm breathing.
Proper breathing aids in promoting health and vitality, controlling mood, developing concentration, and creating the foundation for a vital and prosperous life.
Try one of these Kundalini Yoga breath techniques when you wake up and you’ll start your day in a relaxed state, ready to conquer anything! All of the breathing exercises should be done with the eyes closed, sitting in a relaxed cross-legged position.
1. Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing): Release fatigue and tension with this calming breath. Take the thumb of the right finger and close off the right nostril. Inhale deeply and slowly through the left nostril. Use the right pinkie finger to close off the left nostril and exhale slowly through the right nostril. Continue this alternate breathing for a minimum of three minutes, maximum 31 minutes. Also a great option to do right before bed to calm a busy mind.
2. Sitali Pranayam (The Cooling Breath): The act of drawing the air across the tongue and into the mouth is said to have a cooling and calming effect on the nervous system. Roll the tongue into a “U”shape with the tip just outside the lips. Inhale slow and steady through the U shaped tongue filling the diaphragm. Exhale through the nose. Continue for three minutes. If this is too difficult, you can also try Sitkari Pranayama which has the same effect. Open the mouth slightly with your tongue just behind the teeth. Inhale slowly through the space between the upper and lower teeth, letting the air come in over your tongue as you lift your chin up toward the sky. At the end of the inhalation, close the mouth and exhale through the nostrils as you slowly lower your chin back to neutral. Repeat for 8 to 12 breaths. Both Sitali and Sitkari Pranayama are a particularly good way to wake up if you feel tired in the morning or even during an afternoon slump when you want to improve your focus.
3. One Minute Breath: This exercise soothes fear and is said to help cognition. 20 seconds to inhale, 20 seconds to hold breath, 20 seconds to exhale. To start, inhale slowly, filling the lower abdomen, stomach area, lungs and then finally, the chest. Hold the breath in for 20 seconds and then slowly exhale for 20 seconds. Work your way up to 20-20-20; perhaps start with 10 seconds to inhale, 10 seconds to hold, 10 seconds to exhale (or five seconds is great too!). Continue for a minimum of three minutes.
4. Breath of Fire: Rapid breath of fire is enlivening and cardiovascular; it improves the strength of the lungs, heats the body, and promotes quick energy. Begin in a comfortable seat and sit up tall. Keep the mouth closed through this breathing exercise. Relax the muscles of the stomach.Take a deep inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose. Begin to breath rapidly through the nose and pump the naval point in and out with each breath. Maintain an equal emphasis on the exhalation and inhalation. The breath should be shallow so it can be quick.
Let us know if you’ve tried any of the above techniques and whether they’ve helped jump-start your day by leaving your comments in the section below!
Jennifer Coulombe, MBA, recently left her full time job to be true to herself and live out her destiny. A certified Kundalini Yoga teacher and new entrepreneur working on launching her first company, Sat Nam babe, a socially conscious line of leisure wear for our littlest babes under age five, Jen can also be found braving the New York City streets by bike, hanging out in her Brooklyn neighborhood and daydreaming about her next spontaneous travel adventure. If you liked her article, be sure to read her other articles: The Dog Days of Summer: How to get the Most out of this Precious Season, Kundalini Yoga: 5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Practice, Summer Solstice: How to Mindfully Spend the Longest Day of the Year, and 5 Tips to Find Balance at Work.