ZEN TIP TUESDAY #30
A big warm welcome to Lucile Hernandez, a Yoga Teacher and Mindfulness Coach, who is sharing some breathing techniques that will help us to relax and get into a more zen-like state of mind. These are simple little techniques that can benefit us all. Originally based in New York City, travel loving Lucile is now mostly based in Paris whilst enjoying a digital nomad kinda lifestyle. Enjoy the read, and a sincere thank you to Lucile for sharing these tips with us. You can learn more about Lucile and where to connect with her in her bio at the end of this post.
If you would like to contribute your very own ‘Gem of Zen’ as part of the Zen Tip Tuesday series please go here to find out how (you might also like to visit all the Gems of Zen we have so far). I would love to hear from you!
Exhausted and feeling overwhelmed with all that’s happened to you this week? You know you want to get some time to relax – maybe flop down on the couch, binge-watch on Netflix or even go to a fancy spa to get the pampering you deserve. While you can do all those, it’s good to know that there are more effective relaxation techniques that can be done on your own at home: You do not need to rely on anyone else than yourself to unwind and relax! As a Yoga Teacher and Mindfulness Coach, I’ve been using the breath to achieve a state of Zen for a long time and it is one of my favorite tools for well-needed self-care!
To be in a Zen state of mind – to be present and to have a sense of peace and well-being regardless of your situation – all you need is to work on your breathing. If you’re like most people, especially those who live a busy life, you probably don’t really give much thought to breathing. These simple breathing techniques that will help you achieve mental clarity and live a vibrant life filled with happiness.
When you work on your breathing, you are actually activating your body’s natural relaxation response, helping you to slow down, slow your heart rate and breathing rate, lower your blood pressure, which will help bring you back into the state of balance. For beginners, this can be achieved through different simple techniques that you can do anywhere: I’ve been doing these at work for a long time and no one has noticed yet!
#1. Diaphragmatic breathing: Deep belly breaths
Deep belly breaths are one of the simplest breathing techniques that can be a powerful tool to combat stress. You can practice this anywhere and it’s easy to learn as well. Give yourself a few minutes to sit comfortably in a quiet place and begin slipping into the Zen state of mind.
To practice deep breathing:
- Sit straight on your back and make sure you are comfortable. Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly.
- Start breathing in through your nose. Feel your stomach; it should rise as you breathe in. The chest, on the other hand, should move only very little.
- Exhale through the mouth, letting out as much air as possible. Feel your stomach; you should feel it fall as you exhale. As with the previous step, the hand should also move little.
- Continue breathing using the steps above and feel a sense of total release in your body. This simple technique allows you to fully let go and surrender to the now.
#2. Counted Breaths
Counted breathing helps you regulate your breath as you meditate. This allows you to work out your lungs so you can prolong the time you breathe in and out. Counted breaths is also a form of exercise for the mind that will build concentration and clear your thoughts of any distractions.
To do this, engage in deep breathing, breathing in and out through the nose to activate the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. Start inhaling, mentally counting up to 4 in your head, then exhale to the count of 4.
As you practice this technique, you will eventually see improvement and you can count up to 5 or to a higher number. Another variation, particularly good if you are feeling stressed out is to count to 4 on the inhale and to 7 on the exhale. Longer exhales will instantly quiet your mind and bring relaxation to your body. In any case, this will help you develop your focus and mental clarity.
Start with these two very simple techniques to master breathing. Spend 15 to 20 minutes regularly – anywhere in your home or even at the office – to practice. You can even have a timer beside you. If you can’t achieve that blissful state of Zen instantly, don’t worry. Getting distracted by unwanted thoughts is part of the breathwork process. But instead of controlling those unwanted thoughts, gently use them as an opportunity to learn about yourself, building awareness and patience.
I hope I’ve inspired you to finally start breathing! These two simple techniques have brought me so many benefits, and I am so happy I could share them with you! Let me know in the comments, do you usually pay attention to your breathing? What kind of breathwork techniques have you tried?
Lucile is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Mindfulness and Holistic Health Coach. She focuses on mindful habit building for women entrepreneurs or aspiring to have an innovative business. She writes about it and gives concrete resources on her blog.
Here’s where you can connect with Lucile: