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Health & Longevity

Play With Your Nervous System By Playing With Your Inhales and Exhales

By April 9, 2019 No Comments

Play is nature’s way of learning, and so this month I’d like you to play with your breath and your nervous system in an interesting way, to see what you learn, and to see what happens.

One of the rules of thumb in breathwork is: when you want to charge yourself up, focus on the inhale; when you want to calm yourself down, focus on the exhale.

By leaning into the inhale, you can turn on the sympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system. And by leaning into your exhale, you can switch on the parasympathetic branch.
As I often say, a healthy person should be able to breathe quickly and slowly, high in the chest and low in the belly. A healthy person should be comfortable with big powerful noisy breaths and also with very tiny subtle breaths.

This month, let’s experiment with extending the length of your inhales and exhales. Play with these exercises and let me know what you learn, feel, experience, or discover.

Practice in the sitting position.
And start with leaning into an energizing pattern:
Inhale to the count of 2 and exhale to the count of 2

Then inhale 3 and exhale 2
Inhale 4 and exhale 2
Inhale 5 and exhale 2
Inhale 6, exhale 2
Inhale 7, exhale 2
Inhale 8, exhale 2
Inhale 9, exhale 2
Inhale 10, exhale 2
Inhale 11, exhale 2
Inhale 12, exhale 2

Meditate for a few minutes on your energy.

And then practice leaning into a calming pattern:

Inhale 2, exhale 2
Inhale 2, exhale 3
Inhale 2, exhale 3
Inhale 2, exhale 4
Inhale 2, exhale 5
Inhale 2, exhale 6
Inhale 2, exhale 7
Inhale 2, exhale 8
Inhale 2, exhale 9
Inhale 2, exhale 10
Inhale 2, exhale 11
Inhale 2, exhale 12

Each of these rounds should take between 2 and 3 minutes.
Make sure to meditate between each round for at least 2 or 3 minutes.
Remember also that there is such a thing as the law of diminishing return. Slowing your breath down can reduce stress and anxiety, but forcing yourself to breathe too slowly will simply create stress and increase anxiety.

That’s why we practice with conscious awareness, and we remember to relax as we breathe. If for example you can only get up to a 2-6 count to start, that’s fine. Gently and gradually get comfortable with longer and longer inhales and exhales.

Finally, practice extending both inhales and exhales.

Inhale 2, exhale 2
Inhale 3, exhale 3
Inhale 4, exhale 4
Inhale 5, exhale 5
Inhale 6, exhale 6
Inhale 7, exhale 7
Inhale 8, exhale 8
Inhale 9, exhale 9
Inhale 10, exhale 10
Inhale 11, exhale 11
Inhale 12, exhale 12

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