Don't Hold Your Breath, Mama
Let's start with a little breathing exercise. After you read this, close your eyes and notice your breath- just notice, don't change anything. How does your chest feel? And your shoulders? Is the breath short and choppy or is it long and steady?
Go ahead... I'll wait.
When you open your eyes, jot down any sensations that come to mind... We'll come back to this.
As a yoga instructor we spend a chunk of every class focusing on our breath and discussing proper breathing techniques, especially the diaphragmatic breath or, deep belly breathing. Many people though, have a hard time accessing this breath- feeling strained when asked to breathe deeply.
As a society, we tend to hold our breath, letting it become shallow and rapid, especially under periods of stress. In return, the muscles of the shoulders and chest become utilized more heavily than they should, causing muscular dysfunction, tightness, and unease.
And after a while of breathing like this, it becomes a vicious cycle- your breathing pattern is disrupted causing dysfunction which causes upper back and neck issues (and other kinetic chain issues), making you further agitated, shortening the breath... and so on and so forth. Stress--> poor breathing --> stress--> poor breathing... and on, and on, and on.
Now, let's try something else: close your eyes again. As you inhale through your nose, count to three. Pause, count to three. Exhale for three and then pause, and count to three again. As you inhale really draw the breath down and try to get your belly to expand and your to feel "full". Continue with this pattern for four full breaths.
Again.. go for it... I'll wait.
Scribble down the sensations that come to mind.
What do you notice? Do you feel less stressed? Anxious? Do the shoulders feel lighter?
Now mama, I'm writing this for you today because, even as a yoga teacher, I find myself holding my breath- when I'm knee deep in laundry or, my freshly mopped floor has yogurt all over it. Or sometimes, when I'm attempting, for the third time, to put my son to sleep and the screaming won't stop. I have to remind myself to stop and breathe.
It's a hard adjustment, but it only takes a moment. A moment to reset, a moment to clear your mind.
So here is your reminder:
I promise it will make a world of difference if you do this a few times a day. I promise it will change the way you perceive the situation you are in and the energy you are feeling. I promise.
Today, as a special bonus, I've put together a pdf of some exercises that can help you find and control your breathing easier. I'd like to share my '5 Breathing Techniques for Busy Mamas' worksheet with you. Click on the sneak peak below, share your email and I'll send you the rest of the document in an email!
I hope you feel lighter already!