Decrease Stress, Increase Energy, and Have FUN with Breath of Joy


Do an internet search for “Breath of Joy” and you will find countless recommendations for this breathing technique when you feel sluggish and in need of a boost in energy.

Need motivation to get through the Friday work day? Do Breath of Joy.

Need motivation to get TO work on Friday?! Do Breath of Joy.

And while it’s true I have found this breathing technique effective for increasing the oxygen level in my bloodstream and therefore awakening my whole body, I find it even more helpful after I have accidentally heard something (anything) Trump has said or after my son has peed on the toilet seat. Again. And denied it. Again.

When I’m stressing this election year I do Breath of Joy. It looks silly, feels silly and often leads to a healthy dose of laughter.

And laughter is proven to activate and release your stress response, soothe tension, relieve pain, and improve your mood. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456?pg=1)

Not only that, but it’s easy!

I’ve attempted stress-“reduction” techniques that feel like I’m attempting to crack a hidden code in an ancient work of art. I have no use for that (I get a full dose of code cracking trying figuring out how to get my aforementioned 8-year-old interested in creative writing and my toddler not to throw her food).

In all seriousness, Breath of Joy clears and calms my mind and helps me access my ever-present (but sometimes covered up) wellspring of joy.

Next time you are anxious or annoyed, tired or tense, or simply in need of a good, deep breath stand in an open space and try this:

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent. Take three inhalations through your nose and one exhalation through your mouth, synchronizing your breath with the following arm movements.

Inhale to 1/3 capacity as you swing your arms out in front of you, keeping them parallel and at shoulder height.

Inhale to 2/3 capacity as you swing your arms directly out to the sides (like wings) keeping them at shoulder height.

Inhale to full capacity as you swing your arms straight up and overhead, making them parallel again.

Exhale through your mouth with a strong sigh as you bend your knees and swing your arms straight down and behind you.

Repeat five to ten times and then stand with your eyes closed and feel the sensations in your face, arms, hands, and heart.

AND HERE IS A MODIFICATION FOR KIDS!

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and parallel, knees slightly bent.

Inhale through your nose, quickly sweeping your arms up and overhead, and elevating up onto your toes.

Open your mouth and exhale making a “ha” sound as you swing your arms straight down and behind you, bending your knees deeply.

Repeat five to ten times and then stand with your eyes closed and feel the sensations in your face, arms, hands, and heart.

“After completing several rounds, the parasympathetic system (which sustains the body at rest) kicks in, leaving the mind calm and focused. These qualities make Breath of Joy especially effective in managing mood. The practice counters the shallow upper chest breathing of anxiety by inviting the breath to fill every milliliter of the lungs. Like a strong bright wind, it also sweeps away the sluggishness of depression and infuses the mind with a serene sense of clarity.” (yogainternational.com/article/view/breath-of-joy.com)

Whether kid or adult (or kid in adult frame) do not strain your body or breath; simply feel the rhythm. And if you have high blood pressure, migraines, or glaucoma, this breathing technique is not for you.

When is Breath of Joy most helpful for you? Use the comment section below to share your story!

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