Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Heavens knows we all could use some feelings of calm, now more than ever. Take a minute for yourself – it’s not a waste of time nor something you can’t fit into your next hour. You need to settle your soul a bit; it’s so very important. Make the time, say ‘no’ to everyone and everything else pulling at you for a few minutes, give yourself permission to just breathe and move a bit with mindfulness.
We can’t wait to welcome you back to ABC Fit Studio soon. Look at our website when you’ve got time (AFTER you breathe) and plan what classes you’ll want to take. We have dozens. Stay well.
Cathryn, Julianne, and the entire ABC Fit Studio Team.
Breath is a direct line to our parasympathetic nervous system (think rest and digest). Through slow deep breathing, we activate the relaxation response and ease anxiety and tension in the body.
Step one in calming stress and anxiety through breathing is simply becoming aware of your breath. To start, sit in a comfortable spot with the spine long. If you are in a chair, place your feet flat on the floor. If sitting is too uncomfortable for you, try this exercise while lying down.
- Close your eyes, take a deep breath in, and pay attention to your breath as it flows into and out from your body.
- Try placing your right hand over your belly and you’re left hand over your heart. Notice the gentle expansion of the torso as you inhale and contraction as you exhale.
- Breathe slowly and deeply, observing the natural rise and fall, for 7 breaths.
- Return to normal breathing and observe any changes in the mind/body.
Pursed-lip breathing is a simple technique to slow down one’s breathing, promoting a sense of relaxation. It has also been shown to relieve shortness of breath and, over time, strengthen the lungs.
- Close your mouth, slowly inhale through your nose while counting to two.
- Purse your lips like you were about to whistle or blow out a candle.
- Slowly exhale through your pursed lips while counting to 4.
- Repeat for 4 or 5 breaths. Repeat this periodically throughout the day.
Stretches to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Tension
When we experience stress and anxiety, the body responds by clenching the muscles, often most notably the neck and shoulders. This can contribute to constricted breath and lead to greater discomfort. Practice these simple stretches to relieve shoulder and neck tension and breathe a little easier.
½ Neck Circles
- Sit up straight, inhale to lengthen your spine.
- Exhale, drop your right ear toward your right shoulder. Breathe slowly as you lift and lower your chin, creating half circles for 2 breaths.
- Pause with your right ear at your right shoulder, take 3 deep breaths here.
- Inhale and bring your head back up to center. Repeat on the left side.
Seated Back Bend
- Sit up straight at the forward edge of your chair, interlace your hands lightly behind your head with your elbows out wide.
- As you inhale, lift your gaze and chest slightly, opening the elbows wider, creating a curve from your head to your tailbone.
- Hold the arch and take three full deep breaths.
- Return to neutral. Rest for a few seconds and repeat two more times.
- Begin on your hands and knees in a “table-top” position. Ensure your knees are directly below your hips and your shoulders are directly over your wrists. Gaze down at the floor with your head centered between your shoulders.
- As you inhale, lift your chest and sit bones toward the ceiling as your belly moves toward the floor. Gaze straight ahead.
- Exhale, round your spine up toward the ceiling, releasing your head toward the floor.
- Repeat 4 times, syncing breath and movement.
Legs up the Wall
Calms the mind. Promotes restful sleep.
- Begin the pose by sitting with your left side against the wall.
- Gently turn your body to the left as you bring your legs up the wall.
- Lower your shoulders and head on the floor. Shift your weight side to side and scoot your buttocks close to the wall. Allow your arms to relax by your sides with your palms up. Relax your legs.
- Close your eyes. Hold the posture for 5 minutes breathing mindfully.
- To release, slowly push yourself away from the wall and slide your legs down to the right side. Use your hands to press you up to seated.
Looking to try something new and to belong to something spectacular? We have just what you need! Our space, instructors, and clientele are second to none! Come witness the benefits of pilates and yoga and watch your body (and your confidence!) transform!
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