Archive for the ‘Exercises’ Category
Thank you to Carol Denicker of North Shore Hypnosis for providing us with this deep breathing exercise.
Breathing is the primary language of your subconscious mind. This simple breathing exercise takes less than three minutes to do and is well worth the effort because it promotes deep relaxation.
Practiced daily, slow deep breathing can change your life for the better in many ways. After just 3 minutes (or ten slow, deep, mindful breaths) you will achieve a deeply relaxed state, mentally and physically where you can more easily focus, free yourself of anger, fear, stress, symptoms of anxiety and even minimize physical pain (when used in conjunction with imagery techniques).
Symptoms experienced during an anxiety or panic attack are usually a natural, harmless part of your body’s flight-or-fight reaction. The symptoms are a result of the hormone, adrenaline, which is released when your subconscious mind perceives a threat. Adrenaline is metabolized in less then 3 minutes. Taking 10 diaphragmatic breaths takes less than 3 minutes to do. So if you slow your breathing way down and counter your catastrophic thinking with coping statements you will feel relaxed and in control within 3 minutes.
Here’s How to Do It:
Make yourself as physically comfortable as possible either sitting or reclining with your spine straight and your arms and legs uncrossed. Allow your eyes to gently close.
Inhalation: As you take your first breath, say silently, to yourself the number “One”. Breathe in as deeply as is comfortable for you. Slowly inhaling through your nostrils, filling your lungs and expanding your abdomen. Along with the fresh air you are breathing, imagine you’re inhaling positive energy and fresh thoughts and ideas.
Exhalation: Breathe out slowly and fully through your mouth. Imagine you’re exhaling negative thoughts, ideas and energy. Allow all of the air to fully flow out of you. Before you begin the next inhalation say, silently to yourself, “Relax”.
Repeat the above as you count each of the 10 breaths. You may wish to imagine that each inhalation is slowly filling a brightly colored balloon in your belly, or that you are inhaling positive thoughts and energy and exhaling the negative. Breathe rhythmically… slowly… and fully. After you exhale the 10th breath slowly open your eyes and notice how relaxed you are.
If you change your breathing rate you will change your emotional state. You will relax!
The following is a guided meditation that was written for us by the good people over at The Meditation Den. If you are interested in learning more about meditation including guides, questions and answers, and other helpful advice then be sure to visit them.
This particular meditation is called The Great Tree Meditation. It is a good exercise for anyone whether they are a beginner or more advanced. During the course of this meditative exercise you will be releasing negative emotions and drawing in positive, creative energy so if you find yourself feeling emotional do not worry, that is certainly not uncommon.
As with any meditation make sure that you are somewhere peaceful where you won’t be disturbed for the duration of the exercise. If you are disturbed or distracted then you can either start again or continue from where you left off if you feel able to slip back into it.
- To begin get yourself in a comfortable position. While the lotus is the “classic” position for meditation, if this is uncomfortable for you then you can sit with your legs stretched out or site on a chair, or even lie down on a bed or sofa. The important thing is that you are comfortable and your back is straight, allowing for proper breathwork.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, allowing your muscles to relax and release any tension they may hold. Breathe deeply through your stomach so that it fully expands on inhalation and contracts to its normal size on exhalation.
- Experience the sensations that breathing brings. The coldness of the air as you inhale, and the warmth as you exhale. The air hitting the roof of your throat as it travels into your lungs.
- When you feel ready begin to focus on the points where your body is in contact with whatever is underneath it, be it floor, sofa, bed, etc. Imagine now that these points are your roots. Allow your roots to burrow deep, deep into the earth core – the heart of nature itself. You are part of nature. You are nature.
- As you exhale you are pushing out any blocked emotions and negativity you may hold, passing to earth so that it can heal you. And when you inhale you are breathing in a pure white light up through your roots that provides you with positive, healing energy.
- When you are ready begin to focus on the crown of your head. It is the head that houses the brain, and the brain which houses the mind, and the mind that houses your powers of creativity. Just as your roots burrowed down deep into the earth, now visualize branches full of lush green leaves sprouting from your head up high into the sky. The golden sun is shinning upon you.
- Now inhalation brings with it a new creative fire, new ideas and passion reinvigorated all passed down from the sun. As you exhale you are releasing any creative blocks that your mind has been holding up into the sky, letting them float away.
- You are now the Great Tree with deep roots to the earth and strong branches with beautiful leaves touching the sky. When you breathe in now you are enjoying the full benefits of being the Spirit Tree. You receive the creative energy from the sun and the emotional healing energy from the earth. And when you breathe out you are pushing away the negativity and mental blocks that stop you from being the divine self.
Continue to enjoy this meditation for as long as you desire.
Tai chi is a soft martial art and is commonly practiced as a means to improving health and relaxation. With slow, flowing movements, tai chi is said to improve the movement of energy around the body. Surprisingly considering the pace of tai chi you actually burn more calories practicing tai chi than you would surfing or lifting moderate weights. Due to the slow nature of tai chi it is extremely low impact, making it perfect for anyone who suffers from joint or bone problems.
There are actually hundreds of different forms of tai chi but the most popular ones are Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun and Wu-Hao and Fa styles. While most tai chi is slow paced there are variants that are much faster paced although these are typically only taught and practiced by masters of the slower forms.
The best way to learn tai chi is to scout your local area for classes. Almost all martial arts dojos will run a tai chi class, as do many community buildings. Tai chi is one of the most affordable martial arts to learn as there’s no special equipment required, all you need is to pay for entry into the class and that’s it. It’s best to wear loose fitting clothing to allow for full range of motion and circulation. Also tai chi is typically practiced barefoot or wearing flat soled shoes to enhance balance.
There’s no official accreditation system for tai chi teachers, however as I mentioned above, teaching tai chi is hardly a get quick rich scheme and I can’t imagine there are many, if any, teachers out there who don’t have a good knowledge of tai chi and are just looking to make an easy buck. Also because of the respect people have for martial arts, a dojo won’t employ a teacher they don’t have full confidence in.
Much like meditation, tai chi is something that is best done at least once a day. When you enroll in a class it will probably be run only once or twice a week. This leaves the rest of the week for you to practice what you have learned so far. Preferences vary, but many people like to practice tai chi in the morning as it is a gentle exercise that gets the blood flowing, and gives them a reason to wake up early.
Do remember that tai chi is a martial art and was originally used as a form of combat. Please treat it with the respect its tradition deserves, failure to do so could offend the teacher.
You can follow the tai chi exercises in the video below to get a good idea of what tai chi is, and if it feels right to you.