Written by Dr Sandra Miranda, ND
When we are under stress, we carry a great deal of tension in our physical and mental/emotional body. This leads to various hormonal changes that can affect our long term health. For example, during acute stress, our cortisol (stress hormone) increases and our body thinks it is “sugar”! Yes, so even if you are having the perfect diet, if you are stressed out and have high levels of cortisol, your body will think you just ate a bowl of cereal.
Deep breathing exercises are a super effective way to lower your cortisol levels on the spot! They have a marvelously calming effect on the nervous system, can help with insomnia, soothe headaches, improve digestion and most importantly can help to free your mind of anxiety and depression.
Try this technique:
1. Sit in a comfortably cross-legged position, back straight.
2. Raise your RIGHT hand and place your ring finger against your LEFT nostril, closing it off.
3. Inhale deeply and slowly through the RIGHT nostril to the count of four.
4. Close off the RIGHT nostril with your thumb and retain the breath for a count of 1-4 seconds.
5. Open the LEFT nostril and exhale to the count of 4-8 seconds. The longer you can make the exhalation, the better. Concentrate on completely emptying the lungs.
6. Breathe in through that same LEFT nostril to the count of 4.
7. Close off the nostril with the ring finger again and hold to the count of 1-4 seconds.
8. Exhale through the RIGHT nostril to the count of 4-8 seconds. This makes up one round.
9. Repeat these rounds of alternate nostril breathing five more times, or up to ten minutes if you are concerned about insomnia.
10. Practice a ratio of 4:4:8, if at all possible. Increase this to 8:4:8 eventually, then 8:8:8, after some months.
Do this technique whenever you need calming – even if it is in the middle of your working day. If you are upset, take 2 minutes and practice this technique.
Do not push yourself with the holding position for too long until you are comfortable doing so. Please don’t pass out on me!
I cannot emphasize the benefit of deep breathing! Try it- you will love it!