Take a Minute to Breathe

Do it every day, a couple times a day. Don’t wait to be motivated.
Get curious, take a few breaths. Then, you might get motivated.

Is breathing conscious or unconscious? Does it happen to me or do I make it happen? You’ve probably already guessed, or already experienced, the answer. It’s both. Being intentional about your breath for just one or two minutes per day makes you feel better in that moment. It also trains your breathing muscles and nervous system to run more smoothly in the background—even when you’re not paying attention. I am so interested in how small, consistent inputs can make a big health impact. Last week, I started my own experiment to with a daily breathing practice to see what that small input could do. Please join me. Let’s see where it leads!

Check out two different breathing exercises described below. Choose the one that appeals to you and stick with it. You are simply paying attention to the breath and counting. Doing it consistently is the only thing that matters.

If you feel dizzy at any point, pause the breathing exercise and let your breath come in and out naturally at your own pace until you don’t feel dizzy. Then you can restart again, if that feels okay to you.

4-7-8 Breathing

Start with a full exhale, then:

  • Breathe in for a count of 4 (through your nose)
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Breath out for a count of 8 (through your mouth – see video for details).

Repeat 4 times.

If you struggle to hold your breath for that long, find a rhythm that’s right for you. Listen to your body. If you need to, try a simpler version of this exercise by breathing in for a count of 2, hold for a count of 2 or 3 and slowly breathe out for a count of 4.

Watch the video and follow along as Andrew Weil guides you through the exercise.

Box Breathing

Imagine a box. The four sides represent the four parts of box breathing. Start with a full exhale, then:

  • Breathe in for a count of 4 (through your nose).
  • Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  • Exhale for a count of 4.
  • Hold for a count of 4.

Repeat 4 times.

Watch the video and follow along.

Curious about specific physiological benefits of intentional breathing?

The internet has lots of articles and videos about the benefit focusing on the breath. Feel free to hit up Google for more info….right after you’ve done your first round of 4-7-8 or box breathing.

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