Happy Monday! Now: Breathe.

Hello, and welcome back to the work week. If you're like me, Mondays are sometimes a cause for slight mental, and sometimes physical pain. It sucks leaving the weekend behind, doesn't it?

Luckily, you're still breathing (must remember to add that to my gratitude journal). And the way you are breathing can make or break how your day (and life) goes. I spend the great majority of my waking hours taking shallow, uneven breaths, and as a result, anxiety abounds, even if there's no reason for it to exist in the first place. I've been trying to be more conscious about how deep my breathing is, but it's been a struggle. Then my mom reminded me of a short, simple breathing exercise that we both read about in the book Spontaneous Happiness, by Dr. Andrew Weil.

Weil's technique is called the "4-7-8 Breath", and it goes like this:

1 :: Place the tip of the tongue against the ridge behind and above the front teeth. Keep it there through the whole exercise.

2 :: Exhale completely through the mouth (and puckered lips), making a whoosh sound.

3 :: Close the mouth and inhale deeply and quietly through the nose to a (silent) count of 4.

4 :: Hold the breath for a count of 7.

5 :: Exhale through the mouth to a count of 8, making the same sound.

6 :: Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 for a total of four breaths.

A couple of notes:
:: Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice but do the exercise as much as you wish
:: After a month, if you are comfortable with it, increase to eight breaths each time and gradually slow your counts down. The minimum practice is then eight breaths twice a day, every day.

There are countless breathing exercises out there that I have tried to calm my poor little anxious body, but none have really worked that well (granted, I have not been the most persistent practicer), until this one. I have only been doing it for a few weeks - once in the morning right when I wake up, and once at night as I am about to fall asleep - but I have already noticed a difference. It's about more than just learning to breathing differently - it's about nourishing and even reprograming your central nervous system by changing the way you breathe. I've noticed that when I start the day with this exercise, my stomach is more relaxed and my breathing is more regular throughout the day. And for all you doubters our there: maybe it's just mental, but...who cares? It works. (Also, I doubt it's completely mental; breathing well is incredibly important to our physiological well-being.)

And hey! In five days it'll be the weekend again! Ready...set...breathe.

Happy Monday!

P.S. A couple more links to check out:

P.P.S. I was zero percent paid to write this post; these are my genuine opinions on the subject. Just thought you should know. And if you actually thought this was a sponsored post, bless your soul for thinking that much of my blog. Much love.