Have you ever noticed how animals keep fit? My cat Max is in great shape. When he gets up from a nap, he automatically stretches. When he needs to get his ya-yas out, he chases dust bunnies. And he’s certainly strong enough to pounce up his cat tree. He gives his body what it needs, when it needs it. No grueling gym workouts necessary . . .
Another way to relax and restore natural breathing patterns is to practice forced breathing. Forced breathing involves consciously squeezing more air out of your lungs by using the muscles between your ribs.
Take a deep breath in through your nose — let it out through your mouth — and as you let it out, squeeze out more air, and more air, and more air, and even more air . . . squeeze it all out! Use your whole belly to continue to press out more air. Then, inhale.
Continue several rounds of forced breathing.
Whether you shower in the a.m. or p.m., use the therapeutic effect of warm water to help you wind up or wind down your day.
Position: Standing in the shower with warm water flow centered on upper back and feet hip width apart.
Simple exercise: Drop your chin to your chest and interlace your hands in front of your body to round and feel a stretch in your upper back and shoulders.
Benefits: Stretches upper back and shoulders; feel stress melt away and energy increase.
Have fun, get creative, and share your ideas . . .
When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you approve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not today, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day a time. That’s the only way it happens and when it happens, it lasts.
– John Wooden
By the way, Wooden knew about success, big time. He coached the UCLA men’s basketball team to ten NCAA championship wins in a 12-year period.
Sometimes it helps to shake things up. When you want to get a little crazy with your breathing, try focusing on the exhale.
Simple Exercise: Breath and pay attention to the pattern of your breath, consciously focusing on its natural flow – in/out, in/out, in/out. Now reverse, switching your focus to the exhale. Breathe out/breathe in, out/in, out/in. Continue focusing on the out breath for a few minutes.
It’s like changing the accent an a word. For example, look at the word present.
pre-SENT: Allow me to pre-SENT you a new way to focus.
PRES-ent: Give yourself a PRE-sent by breathing.