I don’t know about you, but when life gets crazy and stressful, sometimes the best way for me to handle it is to stop and take a deep breath!
“Breathing is the first act of life, and the last. Our very life depends on it.” Joseph H. Pilates
Breathing, besides the obvious fact that it keeps us alive, also can improve our mood, help relieve stress, and also energize us, but it is something that we can sometimes take for granted. I have activity-induced asthma which means whenever I exert myself and elevate my heartrate, I typically have difficulty catching my breath. Because of this, I am routinely doing research and trying new techniques to find better ways to control my breath in different circumstances. Here are some that I’ve found helpful:
1. For running or cardio activity – I’ve found it best to breathe to the beat of your feet. For instance, whenever I run, I typically use a 5 or 7 count breathing cadence. So, I breathe in for 3 footsteps and out for 4 footsteps. By spending more time breathing OUT, your body will naturally re-fill the air more quickly, thereby being more efficient and effective. Try to stay with odd-number counts as this also helps prevent side-stitches (bonus!)
2. For Pilates, I use a different form of breathing. Since the breath is one of the six basic principles of Pilates, you focus on lateral breathing by expanding your lungs and rib cage, while keeping your belly tight. This helps to keep your deep core muscles active and engaged making the most of your movements.
3. For stress relief – I recently found a new technique that I’ve already put into practice with a lot of success! It is called 4-7-8 breathing. You breathe in through your nose to a count of 4, hold your breath to a count of 7, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth to a count of 8. When you first try this, it is recommended to only do this cycle 4 times. After a week or so of becoming more accustomed, you can work your way up to 8 cycles. I have personally found this extremely helpful whenever a stressful situation arises at work or if I’m trying to relax and unwind in bed at night.
These are just a few of the ways that I have found helpful. I’d love to hear other ways that have worked for you. Leave a comment with your tips!!