Yoga Practice

2 Breathing Exercises You Need to Be Doing

I lived in Florida for most of my life, which means that my exposure to crazy pollution was pretty much zero. Tampa is a pretty clean city, and the lifestyle is such that you go from home to car to inside destination for almost everything you could need to do. And, if you’re destination is outside, it’s probably at the beach (clean), a park (clean), or some kind of outdoor market (clean).

Now that I’m in Nice and I commute everywhere by walking, I feel like I’m always dodging clouds of cigarette smoke from whoever is around me (still a fairly popular vice in this country), or holding my breath to walk through puffs of whatever the city bus is kicking off as it leaves a stop light. I’m slightly crazy too, so this makes me feel like I’m inhaling horrible contaminants all day and OMG HOW CAN I CLEANSE MY LUNGS/BODY OF THIS GARBAGE?!

So I figured I’d give you my own little routine that I’ve been doing to start my day off on the right foot AND try to exercise my lungs a bit so they’re ready to take on the day of filtering all the nonsense I’m surely inhaling in my everyday life. I’ll either do this while sitting at the beach, or right in my living room.


Here goes…

1) 8-4-8 Breathing
Inhale slowly and fully for 8 counts. Begin at the base of the diaphragm and move all the way up as you “fill” your lungs. Hold at the top of that breath for 4 slow counts. And exhale just as slowly for another 8, “emptying” from the base of the diaphragm up to the top.

2) Nadi Shodhana
This one is a bit more complex, but once you get it, I promise you’ll love it. Not only is it cleansing, but it’s extremely restorative, too.

The Chopra Center gives a great and simple explanation of how to do it:
1) Hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril.
2) At the peak of your inhalation, close off your left nostril with your third and fourth fingers, then exhale smoothly through your right nostril.
3) After a full exhalation, inhale through the right nostril, closing it off with your right thumb at the peak of your inhalation.
Continue performing Nadi Shodhana for the next few breaths, following the same pattern. Your breathing should be effortless, with your mind gently observing the inflow and outflow of breath.


Bonus #3) DRINK WATER.
I know it’s all the rage right now to talk about how sweating is really detoxifying, but truthfully, you eliminate most of your body’s toxins when you use the restroom. So make sure you’re eating well and drinking plenty of water. Your body will thank you!

What are your favorite ways to “cleanse”? I also want to get another essential oil diffuser because my other one broke, so I’m betting that would also work well! Would love to hear your thoughts on all of this, too!

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    Jenn M

    September 30, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Erin, we used to practice alternate nostril breathing in our Yin class on a fairly regular basis. Nothing like it.

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      Erin Motz

      September 30, 2015 at 8:00 am

      So true! I thought it was weird at first but it’s honestly fantastic once you find the rhythm 🙂

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    September 30, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I also use these breathing techniques to help with anxiety! They really bring down the heart rate and calm the mind.

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    October 2, 2015 at 6:26 am

    Hey, i love different types of pranayama but haven’t been able to get into a habit of doing those every day or at least at the end of every yoga session 🙁 I’ll have to do something about that! I like to cleanse with different herbal teas, warm lemon water in the morning, some bio barley/spirulina pills (they have helped me with long-term digestion troubles) and meditation for a quick mind cleanse 🙂

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