Keeping It Simple: Breathe

As we enter into the busy holiday season, I am reflecting upon what is the simplest easiest thing to do to enjoy the festivities and the people around me the most, and keep any stress at bay (I’m not one who by nature likes to shop or cook for potlucks, two things that holiday season often requires!).   If I had to pick one quick and easy thing that changes each day for the better every time I do it, it would be to start the day with a moment of deep breathing.

This my favorite breathing exercise, I love the simplicity of it, and it only takes a few minutes. The amount increase of ease, patience, relaxation, and enjoyment of life that happens all day long when I start the day like this is definitely worth the effort of a few minutes in the morning.   Here is how you do it:

“One Breath”

1. Sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor

2. Rest your palms on your knees

3. Breathe into your lower belly

4. Remember to not force past where you naturally feel resistance, be gentle

5. As soon as you finish inhaling, exhale, again not forcing, and as soon as you finish exhaling then inhale

6. This continuous breathing without ever stopping the breath is different than many other types of breathing exercises, and it is why it is called One Breath

7. Breathe up to about 30 breaths (or set a timer for 5 minutes, or even 2 to start!)

8. That’s it!

Even if my mind is so busy some days that I can barely track 30 breaths, by the end of attempting it, I feel much better. So do not worry about perfection, just take a brief moment to breathe.

One Breath was taught to me as preparation for other exercises, however the teacher, Max Christensen, said to pass it on, because it stands on its own to improve health.   One can feel as you do it how this can be true. I can feel my body relax, my posture naturally readjusts to breathe easier, and muscle tensions release.

Breathing into the belly triggers a parasympathetic response (our relaxed, rest and digest state), it resets our nervous system, and allows more nourishing blood flow to our organs.

If I start the day like this, it carries over. I find myself One-Breathing during the day- in traffic, in shopping lines, etc., sneaking a little extra health and relaxation into the day almost effortlessly.