One: Decrease stress
When you are stressed, your body automatically tenses. Your heart races, your blood pressure increases, and your muscle tightens. To break the change and move the body into a restful state, breathe deeply through one nostril at a time. Place your thumb on the right nostril to close it. Exhale and inhale through the left nostril 27 times. Then repeat with your index finger on the left nostril to close it and exhale and inhale through the right nostril. Repeat this 3 times a day.
Two: Boost your memory
Don’t remember where you left your keys? Take a moment to do the exercise above by only breathing through your left nostril. Studies show that breathing through the left nostril stimulates the parasympathetic system. “Left nostril breathing makes you restful and alert.” Repeat up to 4 times a day.
Three: Defog your brain
If you become fuzzy during the day in the office or during the evening driving, practice the exercise above by only breathing through your right nostril. Nerve fibers at the back of your right nostril activate your hypothalamus and other brain areas that control attention. Repeat up to 4 times a day.
Four: Energizing breaths
To fight fatigue, ramp up the pace of your breathing using “bellows breathing.” Sit comfortably. Inhale forcefully through your nose expanding your belly. Then exhale forcefully through your nose and contract your belly. Alternate, keeping your head and shoulders still. The result is feeling as if you have just taken a brisk walk. Repeat up to 3 times a day with 15 to 20 breaths per round.
Five: Restful breathing
When you wake up and can’t get back to sleep, think about Darth Vader and try to breathe like that. Known as “ujjayi”, the “breath of rest” mimics how we breath when we sleep. This technique has been successful with people with PTSD. It works by activating the vagus nerve which runs between the brain, the neck, and the abdomen. It links breathing with heart rate and relaxes many body functions. To try it, close your mouth and inhale through your nose. Exhale through your nose, constricting the back of your throat to make hushing/ocean sounds. Repeat 10 times.
Reference: Jennifer Matlack, The breathing cure. More Magazine. Volume 17, Number 3. April 2014.
For a list of Sheila’s books, check out http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003HWM3PI