One Powerful Mindfulness Practice to reduce anxiety, depression, and chronic pain

Beginner YogaYogaYoga Therapy
June 21, 2022

I once told a client that we were going to do a mindfulness breathing practice, he responded with “Well you’re in luck! I already know how to breathe.” He was just being funny, but he was also telling the truth. We all know how to breathe. It’s automatic (autonomic). We don’t have to think about it, and it happens naturally. We can’t go more than a few minutes without taking in a breath of fresh air, but how often do we think about how we’re breathing?

Did you notice how you were breathing? Did you try to shape it, or change it? It’s ok if you did, but depending on your personality the idea of “mindful” breathing may put you into a state of panicked “AM I BREATHING PROPERLY!?” There are techniques behind breathing, and there will be another blog post on the physiology of breathing, but for now I’m going to keep this post on how to do THIS mindfulness breathing exercise.

This is a great practice to do when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or in physical pain. It’s also a great exercise to break up your day and give you a few moments of calm to yourself. I personally enjoy doing this practice as I fall asleep. If you’re Type A, following the video, or the instructions, on how to do this exercise will help you not get wrapped up in the “am I doing it right” mindset. And to help you ease your mind, there is no wrong way to do this practice <sigh> 😅

Mindful Breathing Practice:

This practice can be done anywhere and during any time of the day. The practice could be as short as one minute, and as long as you would like. If you have other things to do throughout your day, I recommend setting a timer between 2 to 5 minutes. The video practice is 3-minutes long and you don’t have to set a timer, but you may want to skip the intro and ending after you try the practice a few times. I recommend doing this practice at least once per day every day, although you can do it as often as you would like. And remember, there’s no wrong way to do this practice.

  1. Start in a comfortable position. You can be lying down, seated, or even standing.
  2. Soften your gaze, or if it’s comfortable, close your eyes.
  3. Notice your connection to the surface that supports you, allowing yourself to be supported.
  4. Draw your attention to the air as it enters your nostrils.
  5. Notice the air as it leaves.
  6. Notice the movement of air in and out of your nose for a few breaths before moving on to the next step.
  7. Now observe where the breath moves to in your body.
  8. Watch how the breath leaves your body.
  9. Watch this longer movement of air for a few breaths.
  10. Notice how the belly expands as you inhale.
  11. Notice how the belly softens and contracts as you exhale.
  12. Observe the belly move for a few breaths (or as many as you would like).
  13. Keep your focus on the in and out breaths but notice how your body begins to soften.
  14. Stay focused on the movement of breath for as long as you would like or until your timer goes off. If you notice yourself wandering off in thought, just pause, and bring your attention back to the movement of breath.

Not so bad right!? This practice is simple, yet powerful. When we pause to notice our breath it can take us out of the thinking mind and it brings us into the present moment. We know that when we live in the present moment we find more joy and pleasure in the things we are doing, in the moment and throughout our day. Bookmark this page and the video so you can easily come back to the practice as often as you would like. Sign up for my newsletter below for the latest yoga and yoga therapy tips and techniques, and you’ll also be emailed when the physiology of breathing is posted.

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