Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tapping into Ourselves: Breathing in a Mindful Manner {guest post}

Welcome to another Thursday guest post here at Unapologetically You! Today I bring you Sarah from Brains+Burpees. Sarah is fun and inspirational. Her passion for living healthy lifestyle extends to both the body and mind. You'll love Sarah the moment you read her work. 

Thank you so much, Sarah, for being part of Unapologetically You!

Hello All! My name is Sarah-- a coffee fueled grad student and fitness enthusiast. For the month of January I have been hosting a Month of Mindfulness on my blog “Brains+Burpees”. I thought this would be a great way to kick of the new year! Today I wanted to continue on with the theme of mindfulness and talk a little bit about breathe.

So, a quick recap on what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is being aware with intention. It is focusing on being present and living in the here and now. Mindfulness is meant to calm our minds and allow us to really connect with the sensations and feelings around us in a non-judgemental way.

Now back to breathing. It is simple right? Most of the time our brain even takes care of breathing for us. When we think about our breathing in a mindful context, it becomes an incredibly powerful tool for us to use. We can utilize our breath to reduce stress and anxiety, to push through a workout, to calm our thoughts and bring us back to the here and now.

Breathing 101

First thing is first, how do we sit when we breath. Just like working out, if you do not do it with the correct form than you will not be training your body the proper way. The correct posture for breathing is sitting or standing with a neutral spine. Do not become stiff or rigid. Let your shoulders and arms relax. Keep your chest up and do not slump!

Create Awareness.
Part of becoming mindful is becoming aware.  Focus on how you are breathing. Are they short breaths or long? Are they shallow or deep? Take a moment to identify your natural pattern of breathing. Once you become aware of how you breath you will be able to acknowledge when you breathing pattern has changed.

How to Breathe.
When calming your mind how you breath is a critical element.  We must alter our breathing. Now that you have established an awareness of how you breath it will be easier for you to alter it. When calming our minds we want to breath slowly. The best way to breath is to inhale through your nose {inhaling for 6 seconds}, holding your breath {hold for 2 seconds}, and exhaling your breath through your nose or mouth {for 4 seconds}.  Practice this way of breathing.  How do you feel after 4 or 5 breaths? Refreshed, calm, or energized?

Feel Your Breath.
When you are using your breath to be mindful try to feel your breath. What does this mean? Think about how the air feels that you are inhaling. Is it cold or hot? How does your breath move you? Can you feel your breath expanding your lungs and your diaphragm rising? Focusing on the feeling of breathing allow you to take your thoughts on wherever your your mind has drifted.  It will bring your back to the present moment.

Keep your New Tool Handy

Now you have this awesome new tool! Make sure you don’t let it rust up and use it frequently. Your breath is powerful and you have the ability to utilize it whenever you need it. Our breath is a natural mood changer, a destresser and a calming agent.

The last thing I will leave you with is a quote by Joanne O’Malley:

“Everyone knows that training makes our bodies stronger, fitter and more flexible.  Now, neuroscience research shows that mindfulness training cultivates the innate capacities of the mind to be present, to step out of automatic pilot and to create space so we can be clearer, calmer, more focused, more creative, even more compassionate.”

"Our breath is a natural mood changer, a destresser & calming agent #mindfulness #sweatpink via @brainsnburpees"

Sarah, where were you a few years ago when I was struggling with major anxiety?? I so could have used you :) 

The information Sarah shared with us today is incredibly powerful. I'm looking forward to adding mindful breathing to my routine.

Thanks again, Sarah, for joining us today.

Make sure to head on over to Sarah's website and social media channels to say hi!

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Your turn! Do you include a mindfulness practice in your daily routine? What does your practice look like?