As part of our month of micro rituals series this January 2023, we’re bringing you an edit of simple techniques to help boost your wellbeing; starting with a quick breathing practice that will help soothe a fatigued mind.
When we’re busy or stressed our inhalations typically become longer than our exhalations. This in turn exacerbates our stress levels keeping us in a state of high alert and creating imbalance in the autonomic nervous system.
Extended exhale breathwork is a controlled breathing practice that moves the nervous system from the fight-or-flight mode and towards rest-and-digest (the parasympathetic nervous system).
When the parasympathetic system is dominant, breathing slows down, heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers, and your body is guided back into a state of calm and healing.
Putting your body into a parasympathetic state can be achieved with yogic and pranayama practices; including this simple extended exhale breathing technique.
So next time you’re feeling flustered ahead of a meeting, are trying to unwind in the evening or simply seeking a moment of solace, give this practice a try.
- To begin, sit in a comfortable position with the shoulders relaxed and spine tall. Begin breathing smoothly in and out through the nose.
- Inhale through the nose for a count of 4 seconds. Pause at the top of your inhale. Exhale gently and smoothly, for a count of 6-8. Pause at the bottom of your exhale.
- Keep your breathing even and smooth.
- If the 4-6 count feels too long, try decreasing the breath lengths to 3 in and 6 out. (If longer breaths create any stress or anxiety, there is no need to push yourself. Find a pattern that works for you. The exact length of time isn’t as important as ensuring the exhales are longer in duration that the inhales)