Relax, Focus, Calm Down BREATHE

BREATHING ACTIVITIES*
Did you know that breathing in specific ways can help you relax and focus – and calm down if you are angry or tense? Try some of these activities!

BALLOON BREATH
Take a breath as you normally do. What do you notice? Is it shallow or deep? Is it tight or fluid? Is it short and fast or long and slow? Most of us use only a small portion of our lung capacity. This robs us of some of the oxygen and energy we need to think and move. Balloon Breath requires abdominal breathing which automatically relaxes calms and focuses us.

To do Balloon Breath, place your hands on your lower belly. When you inhale, breathe all the way down into your belly. Your belly will expand into your hands like a balloon. When you exhale, feel your abdomen getting smaller or deflating like a balloon. Imagine the color of your balloon, and continue balloon breathing with your eyes closed for 5 – 6 rounds. Each time that you breathe in, fill up your whole torso with air, so that even your ribs and chest expand, and then breathe out slowly, letting all the air out.

HISSING (SNAKE) BREATH
Inhale deeply for 3-5 counts. Then, making an “S” or a hissing sound, breathe out very slowly, making the exhalation last as long as possible. When you have no more air left, close your mouth and inhale again through the nose. Repeat several times, exhaling slowly and steadily for as long as possible. This breath helps you slow down, focus, let go of tensions and return to a state of calm.

BEAR BREATH
Inhale through your nose for 3-5 counts, hold for 1-2 counts; exhale through the nose for 3-5 counts, hold for 1-2 counts and repeat. This breath should be done as slowly and smoothly as possible. It is calming, nurturing and cleansing.
Activate the power of your breath by choosing what you are breathing in such as light, energy, love, strength or a color.

HUMMING BREATH
Sit up tall. Close your eyes. Take a big breath in and sigh it all the way out. Breathe in and out one more time in order to let go of anything you no longer desire or wish to carry around. Imagine being a bee. Breathe deeply into your belly, and then as you exhale, hum. Let your face and lips be soft and feel the vibration in your face. You can even cover your ears and listen to yourself. Continue at your own pace for several breaths.

SOUNDING BREATH
Inhale and exhale slowly and fully through your nose while constricting the back of the throat just slightly in order to hear the sound of breathing. This breath calms the nervous system, balances the emotions and relaxes the body. Students are encouraged to breathe in this way throughout the day as a way to stay present, and to synchronize breath and movement.

As you listen to your sounding breath, feel the breath going up and down the spine. Feel your energy expanding. Breathe into your center, from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Breathe out energy into every cell. Imagine your breath as the ocean going in and out with the tide.

ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATH

Put middle fingers on your forehead and the ring and pinky fingers on the left side of your nose. Press the right side of the nose gently closed and breathe in through the left nostril for 4 counts; close both nostrils and hold the breath for 4 counts; lift your thumb and exhale out of the right nostril while pressing the left closed for 4 counts. Repeat this sequence 4 times. This breath balances both hemispheres of the brain and both sides of the body, calming the nervous system and clearing and relaxing the mind.

BUNNY BREATH

Inhale through the nose in 3 quick sniffs, pause, and then exhale out of the nose in a long sigh. This breath relaxes and cleanses, helping you to unwind when you are tense and need a release.

ELEPHANT BREATH
Stand with your feet more than a hip-width apart, hold your hands together and let your arms dangle like an imaginary elephant trunk. Inhale through the nose while raising your arms/trunk high up over your head and expanding your chest, then exhale out of the mouth while swinging your arms/trunk down and through your legs. On the next inhalation, raise your arms again, and on the exhalation swing down and through. Repeat 3-4 times. This is a strong breath that cleanse sold air from the lungs while expanding them and energizing the body.

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