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The Ultimate Life Hack: Breathe
It’s funny that one of the most vital of all of our activities is, for many, one of the least considered. Few of us take the time from our hectic lives to think at all about how we breathe, or to even learn how to do so properly. The best ways to master the art of breathing are by practicing Yoga or Meditation. If all of that sounds too complicated and new-agey for you, just start off with this simple exercise:
- Sit “Indian Style” with a pillow under your bum. Sit up straight, with your chin bent slightly forward so that the back of your skull feels like it forms a vertical line with your spine.
- Close your eyes and press your left nostril closed with your left thumb. Inhale gently through your right nostril. Be patient and calm – it may be very difficult at first to breathe in, especially if you are prone to being congested, but if you are patient, you will be surprised at how your airways will start to open up.
- Once you have inhaled, let go of your left nostril, and close your right nostril with your left index finger. Exhale slowly through your left nostril.
- After you finish exhaling through your left nostril the third time, start inhaling through that same nostril, reversing the sequence: inhaling through the left, and exhaling through the right. Do this for three breaths as well.
As you breathe in, concentrate only on the sensation of your breath, and it’s effects on your body. You may be able to feel the blood vessels in your nostrils and face start to pulse as your heart beats – this is a good start, so concentrate on this sensation. After you have mastered this exercise, continue on after it simply breathing through your (unobstructed) nose.
Once you get used to concentrating on the sensation of your blood vessels pulsing, start to concentrate on your belly as you breathe in and out. You may even start to feel the food digesting in your very stomach!
Concentrating on your breathing will not only clear your mind of all of the inconsequential gunk that has built up in it, it will also stimulate blood flow through your whole body.
Not only is concentrating on the sensation of your breath important, but how you breathe can effect how you feel, as well. Feeling depressed? You may need to breathe more with your chest. Overly anxious? Maybe there isn’t enough belly in your breath. If you lie on your back with a hand on your belly and a hand on your chest, both of them should rise when you breathe, your chest slightly less than your belly.
Breathing is a simple – yet vital – life hack indeed. Next time you’re cussing out the Escalade that beat you to the closest parking spot to the door of your favorite strip-mall supermarket, just remind yourself that breathing is way more important.
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